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The term “mangrove” refers to certain species of plant life or to the entire plant community which includes individual mangrove species.

Mangrove shoreline in the Florida Keys. Photo © Cathleen Bester / Florida Museum
Mangrove shoreline in the Florida Keys. Photo © Cathleen Bester / Florida Museum

The term “mangrove” does not refer to a specific taxonomic group of species, but to all halophytic (plants growing in saline soils) species of tropical trees and shrubs. This catchall, diverse group includes 12 families and more than 50 species. Although unrelated, all are adapted to life in wet soils, saline habitats, and periodic tidal submergence.

Another use of the term “mangrove” includes the entire plant community including the individual mangrove species. Terms such as tidal forest, tidal swamp forest, mangrove community, mangrove forest, mangal, and mangrove swamp are synonymous with “mangrove”.

Florida mangroves. Photo © Cathleen Bester / Florida Museum
Florida mangroves. Photo © Cathleen Bester / Florida Museum