Rhizophora mangle L.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Timber of the mangrove is used for cabinetry, construction, piling, poles,
posts, shipbuilding, and wharves. Duke (1972) notes that in Panama it is being
studied for its telephone pole potential. In the Choco it is being
exploited for the pulp industry. Cattle will eat mangrove leaf meal
after CaCO3 has been added to raise the pH. Morton (1965) even describes a
wine made from mangrove leaf and raisin. Amerindians ate the starchy interior
of the fruit and hypocotyl during hard times (Morton, 1965). Dried hypocotyls
have been smoked like cigars. Dried leaves have been used in Florida as a
tobacco substitute. African children use the dried fruits as whistles (Irvine,
1961). In Costa Rica, concentrated bark extracts are used to stain floors and
furniture, a habit shared with Africa's Ashantis. Cuna Indians make fishing
lines from the brown branches. Although some have speculated that Rhizophora
plantings can be used to extend or preserve precarious shores. Hou resurrects
a quote suggesting the contrary "mangrove follows the silting up of a coastal
area rather than precedes and initiates the accumulation of mud or other
soil...it establishes itself merely on accrescent coasts" (Hou, 1958). Morton
(1965), however, notes that the American Sugar Company introduced it in 1902 as
a soil retainer on the mud flats of Molokai. According to Garcia-Barriga
(1975) Kino de Colombia, resin from the red mangrove, has several medicinal
One Cali doctor reports a cure of throat cancer, with gargles of mangrove bark
(Garcia-Barriga, 1975). Reported to be astringent, emmenagogue, expectorant,
hemostat, styptic, and tonic, red mangrove is a folk remedy for angina, asthma,
backache, boils, ciguatera, convulsions, diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia,
elephantiasis, enuresis, epistaxis, eye ailments, fever, filariasis,
hemoptysis, hemorrhage, inflammation, jaundice, leprosy, lesions, leucorrhea,
malignancies, scrofula, short wind, sores, sorethroat, syphilis, tuberculosis,
uterorrhagia, and wounds (Duke and Wain, 1981; Morton, 1981).
Per 100 g, the leaf is reported to contain, 10.7 g protein, 3.4 g fat, 77.0 g
total carbohydrate, 14.5 g fiber, and 8.9 g ash (Duke and Atchley, 1983 in ed).
Per 100 g, the leaf meal is reported to contain 5.6 g H2O, 7.5 g protein, 3.6 g
fat, 59.3 g NFE, 13.9 g fiber, 10.1 g ash, 1.350 mg Ca, 140 mg P, 15.2 mg Fe,
650 mg K, 600 mg b-carotene equivalent, 88 mg Mg, 30 mg Mn, 3.5 mg Cu, 0.52
mg Co, 4.3 mg Zn, 54 mg I, 13 mg thiamine, 19 mg riboflavin, 240 mg niacin, 32
mg folic acid, 5.3 mg pantothenic acid, and 46.0 mg choline (Morton, 1965). I
suspect that the vitamins are off by a magnitude or two. Something is wrong
with the amino acid figures as well, but perhaps the proportions are worth
repeating, arginine 1.1 : lysine 0.9 : methionine 0.421 cystine 0.301 : glycine
0.801. Another analysis of the leaf tablets shows, per 100 g, 790 mg S, 8.3 mg
Cu, 920 mg Na, 8.3 mg B, 224 mg chlorophyll, 0.68 mg folic acid, 5.2 ppm
cobalt, and 144 ppm F (Morton, 1965). Fresh leaves contain 65.6% moisture and
ca 0.1% chlorophyll. Dry bark contains 1040% tannin, aerial roots ca 10.5%.
Tree 520(-30) m tall, 2050(-70) cm in diameter with arching stilt roots 24.5
m high. Bark gray or gray-brown, smooth and thin on small trunks, becoming
furrowed and thick; inner bark reddish or pinkish. Leaves opposite or
elliptical, acute at tip and base, entire, without visible veins, thick,
leathery, glabrous, 612 cm long, 2.56 cm wide, shiny green upper surface,
yellow-green, black-dotted underneath. Petiole 1.52 cm long. Stipules
paired, leaving ring scar. Flowers mostly 24 on forked stalk 47 cm long in
leaf axil, pale yellow, ca 2 cm across. Bell-shaped hypanthium ca 5 mm long
with 4 widely spreading, narrow, leathery, pale yellow sepals 12 mm long;
petals 4, 1 cm long, curved downward, whitish but turning brown, cottony on
inner side; stamens 8, stalkless. Ovary inferior conical, 2-celled with 2
ovules each cell; style slender; stigma 2-lobed. Berry, ovoid, 3 cm long, dark
brown. Seed 1, viviparous, becoming cigar-shaped, to 25 cm long and 12 mm in
diameter (Little, 1983).
Reported from the African, American, and Polynesian Centers of Diversity, red
mangrove, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate diseases, insects, pests,
salt, and waterlogging (NAS, 1980a, Little, 1983). (2n = 36 in other
species of Rhizophora)
Tropical America from Bermuda through West Indies to Florida. Northern Mexico
south to Brazil and Ecuador including Galapagos Islands and north-western Peru.
Western Africa from Senegal to Nigeria; Angola, Melanesia, Polynesia (Little,
Estimated to range from Tropical Moist to Rain through Subtropical Moist to
Rain Forest Life Zones, red mangrove is reported to tolerate annual
precipitation of 14.9 to 23.0 dm (mean of 7 cases = 18.8), annual temperature
of 21.6 to 25.6°C (mean of 6 cases = 23.5), and estimated pH of 6.0 to 8.5.
Mostly on brackish and saline silt of depositing shorelines.
Since natural regeneration is so good, this species is not often cultivated,
but it has been planted, for example, to stabilize the banks of brackish
aquaculture enclosures. Direct seeding yields ca 90% survival in Rhizophora
and Avicennia. Air-layering and the planting of propagules have both been
successful in Florida (NAS, 1980a).
No data available.
In Florida, red mangrove is said to fix 4 MT carbon/ha/yr (Murry and Benemann,
1981). Cannell (1982) cites data showing that Rhizophora mangle spaced
at 1,100 trees/ha, averaged 78 m tall, and an LAI of 4.4. The stem wood and
bark on a DM basis weighed 28 MT/ha, proproots 14.4 MT, the branches
12.7, the foliage 7.8, and the roots estimated at 50 MT/ha for a total
standing biomass of ca 113 MT/ha. The current annual increment (CAI) of stem
wood and stem bark was 3.07 MT/ha/yr, foliage 4.75 (Cannell, 1982). Litterfall
was 0.84 g/m2/day wood, 1.3 g/m2/day leaves. Thus the
annual foliage fall was close to 5 MT/ha/yr. These data were taken in a
mangrove swamp in Puerto Rico. Standing biomass of the Pacific mangrove (R.
brevistyla), from the more fertile Pacific side of Panama, was 280 MT/ha.
Following the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity is estimated
to range from 5 to 20 MT/ha (with 9 reported in Puerto Pico). Wood (sp. grav.
0.91.2), an important source of charcoal, described as excellent for fuel and
charcoal (Little, 1983).
Durable in the soil but susceptible to attack by dry-wood termites (Little,
1983). Morton (1965) reports a Cerospora (sic) leaf spot in Florida.
Agriculture Handbook No. 165 notes Anthostomella rhizomorphae on leaves.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Agriculture Handbook 165. 1960. Index of plant diseases in the United States.
- Cannell, M.G.R. 1982. World forest biomass and primary production data.
Academic Press, New York.
- Duke, J.A. 1972. Isthmian ethnobotanical dictionary. Publ. by the author.
Harrod & Co., Baltimore.
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Duke, J.A. and Atchley, A.A. 1984. Proximate analysis. In: Christie, B.R.
(ed.), The handbook of plant science in agriculture. CRC Press, Inc., Boca
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Garcia-Barriga, H. 1975. Flora medicinal de Colombia. Botanica Medica. Talleres
Editoriales de la Imprenta Nacional. Bogota.
- Hou, D. 1958. Rhizophoraceae. p. 429493. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (ed.),
19551958, Flora Malesiana. series 1, vol. 5, P. Nordhoff Ltd., Republic of
- Irvine, F.R. 1961. Woody plants of Ghana. Oxford University Press, London.
- Little, E.L. Jr. 1983. Common fuelwood crops: a handbook for their
identification. McClain Morton, J.F. 1965. Can the red mangrove provide food,
feed, and fertilizer. Econ. Bot. 19:113123.
- Morton, J.F. 1981. Atlas of medicinal plants of middle America. Bahamas to
Yucatan. C.C. Thomas, Springfield, IL.
- Murry, M.A. and Benemann, J.R. 1981. Freshwater plants. p. 407470. In:
McClure, T.A. and Lipinsky, E.S. (eds.), CRC handbook of biosolar resources.
vol. II. Resource materials. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL.
- N.A.S. 1980a. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production.
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
Last update Thursday, January 8, 1998 by aw