The Black Mangrove

The Black Mangrove
Black Mangrove (Avicennia germanica)

Black mangrove is the most widespread of the native mangroves in the U.S. . It occurs from Texas to Florida in coastal areas. It is the hardiest of the mangroves. The plant grows along lagoons, inlets, tidal waves, bays, and in low marshy coastal areas where it grows behind the red mangrove. The salt tolerant plant can form dense groves and thickets.

Best suited to zones 10 and 11, black mangrove requires full sun. The long lived trees can be a century in age. The sun loving plants prefer a salty, moist soil.

The main flowering period typically takes place in June and July in Florida for about six to eight weeks. However, this tree can bloom at other times of the year as well.

Black mangrove is the most valuable mangrove species for pollinators. It produces lots of nectar, which is visible to the naked eye. This is about the heaviest nectar source of all when weather conditions are favorable. Wherever it is native, it is an important nectar plant in coastal areas.

The flowers are sure to attract pollinators. These are excellent sources of pollen and nectar. The nectar flow is very much affected by weather. During dry spells, the bees cease to work the flowers apparently due to the fact that the plants become covered in a salty residue.

This can bring a surplus honey crop with an average of around a hundred pounds per colony. However, in its heyday before much of Florida’s coastal areas were developed, some beekeepers harvested as much as 380 pounds of honey per colony.

The premium quality, clear white honey granulates very rapidly, developing fine grains. When it comes to honey descriptions, this depends totally on the reference one is using. The color of the thin bodied honey appears to vary widely.

If this is a pure unifloral honey, it ranges from light to white, water white, and extra light amber to light amber. The mild flavor has been described as “salty or brackish.” This honey has also been described clear white and premium quality with a mild flavor. Others report it is dark colored and low quality with a a brackish or salty flavor that isn’t very sweet. Black mangrove honey can ferment if it is stored for long periods.

Description of Black Mangrove

A member of the verbena family, black mangrove can be an evergreen bushy shrub or tall tree with a short trunk, depending on the location. With a rounded, dense crown and spreading branches, it is generally 10 to 40 feet in height with a slightly smaller spread. The plant generally branches close to the ground.

One of the distinctive features of black mangrove is the roots, which arise above the water level and provide the plant with oxygen. The fissured, deep brown bark becomes scaly with age. The young twigs and young foliage are hairy.

The leathery, opposite leaves have slightly rolled edges. Five inches long and 1½ inches wide, these range from oblong or oval to elliptic. These are deep green to greenish-yellow. The underside is lighter colored and hairy.

The scented blossoms with a yellow base form cone-like, dense flowered heads on short, branched, terminal clusters. The small flowers, ¼ inch long, contain four petals, a bell-like tube, four stamens, a single pistil, and a cup-like calyx.

The fleshy, egg shaped fruit, two inches long, contains a single seed that is actually an embryo plant without a seed coat.

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