Stop #2: Our Mangrove Nursery
MRC is a state-licensed aquaculture nursery with mangroves in a variety of sizes, from propagule seedlings to 20-foot-tall mature trees. MRC staff can provide plant delivery and installation services for your restoration project upon request. Our nursery at the Lagoon House is where mangroves begin their journey to a shoreline. We collect and germinate propagules and pot them into larger and larger pots. We care for them for at least three years here and at our nursery in Sebastian until they are a healthy size for use in restoration projects.
Mangroves improve water quality, protect shorelines, and control erosion. They also provide a wildlife habitat and are nurseries for many species of aquatic organisms.
There are three types of mangroves in our nursery and they grow in different locations along the shoreline:
Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) — grow closest to the water
Pencil-shaped propagules germinate on the tree, drop off, and can float for up to a year before rooting. Prop roots increase stability of the tree as well as oxygen supply to underground roots. Red mangroves are the first line of defense in stabilizing a shoreline and act as a nursery for many aquatic organisms.
Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) — grow between red and white mangroves. They buffer the coastline from high winds and storm surges. Their bark is scaly and dark.
Propagules are about the size of a lima bean. The underside of the leaves is lighter than the top. They are able to take up saltwater, use the water, and excrete the excess salt out onto their leaves. The pneumatophores (which means “air-breathing roots”) act like snorkels, allowing the tree to get air, even though it is standing in seawater or soggy mud.
White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemose) — most inland mangroves, the least common and most salt tolerant.
The propagules are about the size of an almond. Leaves have a notch at the tip and nectaries at the base.
The nectaries secrete a floral nectar that attracts pollinators and ants. White mangroves have a mutualistic relationship with ants that live around the trees. The ants benefit by eating the nectar from the leaves and flowers, and the mangrove benefits by having the ants eat pests that may cause serious damage.