Mangrove forests are present in the coastal channels and winding rivers around the tip of south Florida. The term "mangrove" does not signify a particular botanical relation, but rather is used to identify several species of salt-tolerant trees that thrive amidst the harsh growing conditions of the coast.
Red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle), identified by their stilt-like roots, and the black (Avicennia germinans) and white mangroves (Laguncularia racemosa) thrive in tidal waters, where freshwater from the Everglades mixes with saltwater. Everglades National Park boast contains the largest contiguous stand of protected mangrove forest in the hemisphere.
Mangrove habitat serves as a valuable nursery for a variety of recreationally and commercially important marine species. During the dry months, wading birds congregate here to feed and nest. And during the summer months, these mangrove forests provide the first line of defense against the howling winds and storm surge of hurricanes.