The Important Role of Mangroves

Mangrove trees play an important role in maintaining a healthy environment for the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and the plants and animals that depend on it. Mangroves are in peril around the world, with an estimated one third of the world’s mangrove forests lost in the past 50 years (Alongi 2002). Much of this loss is due to human destruction including overexploitation, coastal development, changes in water flow and damaging oil spills and pollution.

Why Save Mangroves?

  • This complex root environment is home to developing fish, sharks, turtles, frogs, sponges, queen conch, barnacles, shrimp, crabs, and even juvenile spiny lobster, as well as home to birds of prey like ospreys and wading birds like herons.
  • Healthy mangrove forests maintain sufficient fish populations, providing food and habitat for more than 90% of commercial fishery species and more than 70% of Florida’s sportfish species.
  • Among the most carbon-rich habitats on the planet, mangrove forests take greenhouse gases such as CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in carbon-rich soil around their roots.
  • Mangroves filter sedimentation, nutrients and toxins including phosphates, nitrates, and ammonia, improving water quality by balancing pH and increasing dissolved oxygen, which is vital for seagrass, marine life, and humans.
  • These amazingly strong trees stabilize the shoreline from erosion and provide a buffer zone from heavy waves and storms.

Types of Mangroves

Red Mangrove

Red Mangrove

Rhizophora mangle

Found nearest the coast, Red Mangrove grows to about 20 feet tall and are characterized by arching roots and propagules known as long hanging seed pods. These pods can root immediately or float in the water until they find more suitable ground to grow.

Black Mangrove

Black Mangrove

Avicennia germinans

Growing inland from red mangroves, Black Mangrove is characterized by circular propagules and exposed roots, which burrow underground and send up pneumatophores that often stick out above the water like snorkels.

White Mangrove

White Mangrove

Laguncularia racemosa

Tidal areas, lagoons and ponds are home to White Mangrove, which displays rounded leaves and small, oval propagules. Two glands at the base of each leaf act as excretion glands removing excess salt and sugar which attracts helpful insects.

Adopt-A-Mangrove Program

Brevard Zoo has planted hundreds of mangroves in the IRL, and many are thanks to our Adopt-a-Mangrove program! Red Mangroves take anywhere from 5-to-7 years to fully mature for planting along the shoreline.

Adopt-a-Mangrove is a program that allows anyone in Brevard County to help raise Red Mangroves for lagoon restoration. Participation is available to homeowners as well as volunteers in clubs, schools, and local organizations. Brevard Zoo can provide a presentation with mangrove propagules and pots to get you started.

Adopt a Mangrove FAQ's

1. How do I care for my Mangrove? 
For basic red mangrove care, please see our Red Mangrove Care Guide.

2. How long do I keep my plant?
Mangroves take 5-to-7 years to fully mature, however, you can bring your mangrove back to Brevard Zoo at any time when you are done caring for it. We will keep it in our in-house nursery until it is ready for planting.

3. My mangrove is fully grown, what next?
If your plant is fully grown, fill out the fully grown mangrove form to put yourself on the contact list for our next planting schedule. Or if you prefer, bring your mangrove to the front office of Brevard Zoo during our regular hours.

4. Where will it be planted?
Restoration planting happens along the Indian River Lagoon. Locations are determined based on permitting and availability.

5. Is there a specific way to care for them?
Mangroves are a protected species and have specific trimming regulations. Check out our mangrove trimming guidelines! 

Returning Your Mangrove

If you have adopted a mangrove and believe it could be ready to be returned, please contact us at