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Botanical Name : Rhizophora mangle
Species: R. mangle
Common Name: Red mangrove
Habitat : Red mangroves are found in subtropical and tropical areas in both hemispheres, extending to approximately 28°N to S latitude.(Tropical America from Bermuda through West Indies to Florida. Northern Mexico south to Brazil and Ecuador including Galapagos Islands and north-western Peru. Western Africa from Senegal to Nigeria; Angola, Melanesia, Polynesia (Little, 1983).) They thrive on coastlines in brackish water and in swampy salt marshes. Because they are well adapted to salt water, they thrive where many other plants fail and create their own ecosystems, the mangals. Red mangroves are often found near white mangroves (Laguncularia racemosa), black mangroves (Avicennia germinans), and buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus). Through stabilisation of their surroundings, mangroves create a community for other plants and animals (such as the mangrove crab). Though rooted in soil, mangrove roots are often submerged in water for several hours or on a permanent basis. The roots are usually sunk in a sand or clay base, which allows for some protection from the waves.
Rhizophora mangle grows on aerial prop roots, which arch above the water level, giving stands of this tree the characteristic “mangrove” appearance. It is a valuable plant in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas coastal ecosystems. In its native habitat it is threatened by invasive species such as the Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius). The red mangrove itself is considered an invasive species in some locations, such as Hawaii, where it forms dense, monospecific thickets. R. mangle thickets, however, provide nesting and hunting habitat for a diverse array of organisms, including fish, birds, and crocodiles.
Red mangroves are easily distinguishable through their unique prop roots system and viviparous seeds. The prop roots of a red mangrove suspend it over the water, thereby giving it extra support and protection. They also help the tree to combat hypoxia by allowing it a direct intake of oxygen through its root structure.
Tree 5–20(-30) m tall, 20–50(-70) cm in diameter with arching stilt roots 2–4.5 m high. Bark gray or gray-brown, smooth and thin on small trunks, becoming furrowed and thick; inner bark reddish or pinkish. Leaves opposite or elliptical, acute at tip and base, entire, without visible veins, thick, leathery, glabrous, 6–12 cm long, 2.5–6 cm wide, shiny green upper surface, yellow-green, black-dotted underneath. Petiole 1.5–2 cm long. Stipules paired, leaving ring scar. Flowers mostly 2–4 on forked stalk 4–7 cm long in leaf axil, pale yellow, ca 2 cm across. Bell-shaped hypanthium ca 5 mm long with 4 widely spreading, narrow, leathery, pale yellow sepals 12 mm long; petals 4, 1 cm long, curved downward, whitish but turning brown, cottony on inner side; stamens 8, stalkless. Ovary inferior conical, 2-celled with 2 ovules each cell; style slender; stigma 2-lobed. Berry, ovoid, 3 cm long, dark brown. Seed 1, viviparous, becoming cigar-shaped, to 25 cm long and 12 mm in diameter (Little, 1983). They are a darker shade of green on the tops than on the bottoms. The tree produces pale pink flowers in the spring.
Since natural regeneration is so good, this species is not often cultivated, but it has been planted, for example, to stabilize the banks of brackish aquaculture enclosures. Direct seeding yields ca 90% survival in Rhizophora and Avicennia. Air-layering and the planting of propagules have both been successful in Florida (NAS, 1980a).
Per 100 g, the leaf is reported to contain, 10.7 g protein, 3.4 g fat, 77.0 g total carbohydrate, 14.5 g fiber, and 8.9 g ash (Duke and Atchley, 1983 in ed). Per 100 g, the leaf meal is reported to contain 5.6 g H2O, 7.5 g protein, 3.6 g fat, 59.3 g NFE, 13.9 g fiber, 10.1 g ash, 1.350 mg Ca, 140 mg P, 15.2 mg Fe, 650 mg K, 600 mg b-carotene equivalent, 88 mg Mg, 30 mg Mn, 3.5 mg Cu, 0.52 mg Co, 4.3 mg Zn, 54 mg I, 13 mg thiamine, 19 mg riboflavin, 240 mg niacin, 32 mg folic acid, 5.3 mg pantothenic acid, and 46.0 mg choline (Morton, 1965). I suspect that the vitamins are off by a magnitude or two. Something is wrong with the amino acid figures as well, but perhaps the proportions are worth repeating, arginine 1.1 : lysine 0.9 : methionine 0.421 cystine 0.301 : glycine 0.801. Another analysis of the leaf tablets shows, per 100 g, 790 mg S, 8.3 mg Cu, 920 mg Na, 8.3 mg B, 224 mg chlorophyll, 0.68 mg folic acid, 5.2 ppm cobalt, and 144 ppm F (Morton, 1965). Fresh leaves contain 65.6% moisture and ca 0.1% chlorophyll. Dry bark contains 10–40% tannin, aerial roots ca 10.5%
The red bark of the South American mangrove tree has been used for many years by the natives as a febrifuge but more recently it has been claimed that it is a specific in leprosy. They administer a beginning dose of one fluidrachm (3.75 mils) of the fluidextract twice a day which is gradually increased until the patient is taking a fluidounce and a half (45 mils) daily.
Red mangrove is a folk remedy for angina, asthma, backache, boils, ciguatera, convulsions, diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia, elephantiasis, enuresis, epistaxis, eye ailments, fever, filariasis, hemoptysis, hemorrhage, inflammation, jaundice, leprosy, lesions, leucorrhea, malignancies, scrofula, short wind, sores, sorethroat, syphilis, tuberculosis, uterorrhagia, and wounds. One Cali doctor reported a cure of throat cancer, with gargles of mangrove bark The bark of the tree is boiled (1 handful of chopped bark in 1 gallon of water for 10 minutes) and used as a hot bath for very stubborn or serious sores, skin conditions, leprosy and swellings.
Other Different Uses:
Timber of the mangrove is used for cabinetry, construction, piling, poles, posts, shipbuilding, and wharves. Duke (1972) notes that in Panama it is being studied for its telephone pole potential. In the Choco it is being exploited for the pulp industry. Cattle will eat mangrove leaf meal after CaCO3 has been added to raise the pH. Morton (1965) even describes a wine made from mangrove leaf and raisin.Amerindians ate the starchy interior of the fruit and hypocotyl during hard times (Morton, 1965). Dried hypocotyls have been smoked like cigars. Dried leaves have been used in Florida as a tobacco substitute. African children use the dried fruits as whistles (Irvine, 1961). In Costa Rica, concentrated bark extracts are used to stain floors and furniture, a habit shared with Africa’s Ashantis. Cuna Indians make fishing lines from the brown branches. Although some have speculated that Rhizophora plantings can be used to extend or preserve precarious shores. Hou resurrects a quote suggesting the contrary “mangrove follows the silting up of a coastal area rather than precedes and initiates the accumulation of mud or other soil…it establishes itself merely on accrescent coasts” (Hou, 1958). Morton (1965), however, notes that the American Sugar Company introduced it in 1902 as a soil retainer on the mud flats of Molokai. According to Garcia-Barriga (1975) Kino de Colombia, resin from the red mangrove, has several medicinal uses.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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