Mangroves as house plants

fishpond_boy(Kaneohe, Hawaii)November 25, 2004

Aloha kakou!! Just found this forum and website. Pretty cherry. Kay......Im wondering if anyone either 1) uses mangrove as a house plant, 2) uses mangrove in their aquarium, or 3) has seen it in restaurants or other establishments as a decorative plant?

I'm trying to see if this plant has some sort of use besides choking our Hawaiian coastlines. I've heard that the seedlings can be placed in a shallow pot or vase and make nice decorations. I've also seen a few in chinese and korean restaurants as a decorative plant.

From what I understand, the plant is very hearty in a pot and requires very little maintenance. Whaddya think?

Mahalo for your help and tips!!!!

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Matt G(z11 HI)

Yea, Ive seen a fish tank with archer fish and mangrove seedlings in it. To me it looked quite amazing. I heard that mangrove seedlings are sometimes sold for about 5 bucks. They may be attractive but its quite ironic to think about the fact that getting rid of this plant is a pain in the butt, and of course costs money and manpower. I have worked at He'eia fishpond removing mangroves and its amazing how much work it takes just to kill these plants.

You seem to understand the invasive properties of mangroves. I don't think using them as ornamentals is a bad idea. They're pests but at least we are using the pests we have instead of bringin in new ones. Plus they are quite attractive when they arent growing wild. They are also easy to get - they're all over the place. You just need some knowledge on plant propagation. There is also another mangrove that we were cutting down at He'eia fishpond, the oriental mangrove (Bruguieria gymnorrhiza). This one is not as invasive as the other mangrove, it doesnt produce aerial roots, and it has very attractive unique looking flowers that can be used in leis. I don't know much about the cultivation of this species.

[The more common mangrove is known as American or red mangrove (Rizophora mangle)]

Yea its a pest but, we might as well make use of it. And I have seen it being used for ornamental purposes. But I think experimenting would be a good thing to do.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2004 at 3:26AM
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JerryatTreeZoo(Z10 So Fla)

I thought mangrove was a Hawaii native. It is pretty pantropic in its distribution. If it is not native and humans took another few thousand years to find Hawaii, it probably would have gotten there on its own.

Here in Floriduh, mangrove is protected. You cannot remove them and you need to get a permit just to prune them. Its a change to hear them called a pest.

I have grown Red Mangrove in a 1 gallon fishtank with a betta and a plecostoma. Effortless, it just needs lots of light. And no cover on the aquarium. I got it from a lady at a plant show where every mangrove had a betta with it in a small bowl with colored rock chips. I also grow one in a small pond in my backyard. I keep it in a fabric container.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2004 at 10:16PM
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Mangroves are used in marine aquariums. It's kind of a new thing but seems to be picking up some following. A guy named Mark Peterson is something of a pioneer of a new filtration technique called Reverse Daylight Photosynthesis (RDP). He relies fairly heavy on mangroves and several types of macroalgae in a sump/refugia to remove nutrients and impurities from the water before it is returned to the main tank.
I'll be moving back to Hawaii in August and can't wait to collect some mangroves for the same purpose. I've added a link to another (marine aquarium)forum. Mark's post has a few photos and some explanation of what he's done. He's added several more mangroves since the photos were taken. It's really kind of impressive.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mark Peterson's Mangroves

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 11:29PM
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Deweydave(z11 HI)

Mangrove in Hawaii in a word are a PEST! Sorry to pop your bubble you mangrove lovers planning to use this as a plant in your aquariums. Well, okay. But in the Hawaiian coastal native habitat it is NOT welcome! I live 5 minutes from Pearl harbor and I have seen what it is doing to our coastline. NOPE! It is not native. It is far too agressive and destroys our native riparian landscape, displacing native plants and animals that really should be there for a balanced ecosytem. It does not belong here...period.
This is a major WEED in Hawaii. This is the straight up facts about this wonderful plant. Just not here friends. Okay? Malama ka aina (Take care of the land).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 3:13AM
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fishpond_boy(Kaneohe, Hawaii)

Thank you Jaybear for the comments about mangrove and its uses in aquariums. Since the original post, I've done some research about the plant being used in aquariums and you are right....its gaining popularity in terms of being used as a natural filtration method.
And deweydave, you dont have to tell me about mangrove and how it wreaks havoc on the Hawaiian coastlines. The same properties that make the plant so highly protected and coveted in Florida also make it the perfect pest for our near shore environment.

Anyways, if anyone knows of any seed companies that need mangrove seedlings, please help steer me in the right direction. The place where I work has more than I know what to do with.

Fishpond Boy

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 3:10AM
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Matt G(z11 HI)

I posted earlier. There's one thing I must say. As much as I hate mangroves I am not against their cultivation.

It's better to cultivate a widely naturalized species than a speceis that has not yet been introduced to Hawaii or a species that is has become newly naturalized and are found in only a few localities. There are some plants that should definately NOT be cultivated (e.g. Miconia calvescens, Salvinia molesta).

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 2:31AM
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Deweydave(z11 HI)

Actually Cyanea I am rather shocked to hear this about your view of mangrove! I know you and so far you have been a staunch advocate for our native pants. I work to help restore our native Hawaiian riparian areas. MANGROVE DOES NOT BELOND IN HAWAI'I NEI. KUKUNAOKALA KAPU!

Perhaps you should personally take a better look at what mangrove is doing to our kama'aina coastline.

Ka poe malama 'aina


    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 2:06AM
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Do you know anybody who sells and ships mangroves to Germany?
They are great for aquariums and as hoeseplants!
Please contact me, I am interested in buying quite a lot of them.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 11:39AM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Let's ship them all to Stefan! Yay! Too bad that there's probably tons of restrictions to mail them to Germany, though.

They do seem to be one of the few plants to be able to grow in seawater. And they do GROW! Sheesh! If they become "valuable" plants, though, do you think anyone will actively cultivate the buggas?

Eh, Hukilau Boy, when you get done with pruning, sell them on eBay. eBay folks like our yard clippings. Just don't sell any to anyone in Hawaii! Maybe you could mail away all the mangrove on Oahu!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 9:18PM
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hey deweydave sorry to bust your bubble but red mangrove is native to hawaii. actually it more native than most plants there already. many of the plants in hawaii were brought by the polynesians or as ornamentals. florida could look just like hawaii provided there was a small army of meticulous japanese men pruning and preening the vegetation and removing anything unattractive to replace it with something more attractive. i have recently moved from california to south florida, my girlfriend is oahu born and raised. we take trips there alot. get a book called plants and flowers of hawaii by s.h. sohmer and r. gustafson. it goes into depth as far as what the true native hawaiian plants are.

if it were not for people the islands would be mostly grass (which explains why sugar cane does so well there) and yes, mangroves along the coastlines.

mangrove propagules naturally float all over the pacific and colonize coastlines all over it. they protect the coastline from erosion which if you guys get a hurricane sometime in the next few decades you will learn again. its what prevents florida from losing huge amounts of land to the sea. mangroves would also probably been really handy in protecting people during the tsunami by sumatra but people remove them since they think they're unattractive but support an amazing amount of biodiversity.

when i was in oahu i grabbed a bunch of red mangrove propagules floating down the coast at kailua. i sprouted them up and they sat above my toilet growing in pots for 2 years till we finally moved to south florida. they are doing exceptionally well now. not like i dont have an endless supply of propagules with all the mangroves down here.

im not sure about cuttings but red mangroves can grow quite easily from propagules which are like long seeds that drop into the water with a sprout on top. children here call them 'sand pencils'

if anyone has any non-native mangroves say from indonesia or australia or africa i would be very very interested in some seeds or propagules. im trying to 'collect them all'. there are only 3 varieties of mangroves in south florida (white, black, red) but tons of very interesting species with all sorts of various root shapes in australia. im actively seeking the orange mangrove at the moment.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 11:49AM
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fishpond_boy(Kaneohe, Hawaii)

Whoa......Cixel.......I'm glad that you got backed up your comments with a reference because I'm definetly going to have to check on that. As far as my research tells me (which so far is all on the internet) the mangrove is NOT NATIVE. If you say that the plant is NATIVE and was here before Hawaiians arrived, why are there not dense mangrove forests on the Hawaiian coastlines like Florida or Africa or countries in S.East Asia? Why do our mangrove forests only display growth indicative of 75 to 100 years of growth? Why, when looking at photos of Kaneohe Bay (where it is very prevalent now) over the past 75 years, do we notice very rapid spread and growth of mangrove along the coastline? Why wasnt it there before as you say it was? And why was the growth so rapid only in the past 75 years?

I am not disputing your claim, I only question it. The research I have done about mangrove in Hawaii indicates mangrove seedlings where distributed along Hawaiian coastlines beginning in 1902. This was a tactic done by the Hawaiian Sugar Companies to prevent dirt, which was being lost into streams due to massive erosion in the sugar cane fields, from smothering our coral reefs. Resource managers saw that the plant held the dirt within its roots and near land in other places around the world and decided the plant would be ideal to keep the dirt from going out into the ocean. In my opinion, it was a band-aid to a huge problem.

So, my research indicates the plant has in fact only been in the islands about 100 years. Which would explain photographs of our coastlines being slowly invaded by this tough, resistant, and adaptable plant decade by decade.

Another point about mangrove getting to Hawaii: ocean currents. Yes, mangrove seedlings have been known to stay viable after floating in the ocean up to one year. But, you cannot just say that they "float in the Pacific". There are currents that move in a cyclical pattern. The most common ocean current that sweeps by Hawaii travels up the coast of Asia, passes by Japan, moves across the Pacific below Alaska and then drops down to Hawaii. Debris from Japan has been found regularly on Hawaiian shores. Therefore, we are talking a HUGE DISTANCE and VERY LONG TIME FRAME within which the mangrove seedlings "floated" from S.East Asia where they are very prevalent and made it to Hawaii.

Last point, this plant is a pest in Hawaii. Although it may protect our shores from hurricanes or tsunamis, it has MUCH MUCH WORSE effects upon our near-shore marine environment. It changes the ecology of estuary areas, chokes out coral reefs which are home to native fish and seaweeds, changes sand beaches into mud flats, decreases oxygen levels in the water, changes water movement and currents along the shore, blocks wave action necessary for marine life, etc. etc. etc. Honestly, I could go on much further.

That is why I believe mangrove is NOT NATIVE to Hawaii. We would have seen the effects much earlier.

That all being said, mangrove is a great plant in areas where it is native. It creates a great environment for certain types of plants and marine life. Unfortunately, it does more harm than good in Hawaii.

I work at a Hawaiian fishpond, an ancient type of "fish farming" technique. My pond is 88 acres. In the past 50 years, mangrove has encroached and "filled in" approximately five acres already. What about in 100 years? 200 years? Will anything be left? Will a once productive fish farm become a mud flat? That is why we dont like it. And we have tons of it already.

But, thats just my opinion. Sorry to be so long. Thanks for listening!!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 4:03AM
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I have been reading about getting hold of some red mangrove seeds and can only find sellers from florida where the are protected and require permits ect. I wanted to know if anybody knew any suppliers in hawaii that are willing to ship to the united kingdom

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 7:48PM
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i believe exporting seeds or certain live plants from Hawaii is against US Agricultural regulations because Hawaii has many insects that could ruin agricultural crops these pest may have laid eggs or hide in the plant or its a big no, no ,big fines if you are caught maybe even jail time

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 5:55PM
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did you know that mangroves actually help the coral reefs, as well keep your coast line intact.. They are really important florida found that out the hard way.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 11:00AM
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Drew, you should read the previous post, like fishpond_boy's comment. Yes, mangroves is beneficial in it's native habitat, but detrimental to native species when it's not.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 8:06AM
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CiXeL, you are incredibly ignorant and obviously didn't read "Flowers of Hawai'i" or at the very least were incapable of comprehending its contents. First of all, you obviously know nothing about the native plants or the natural history of Hawai'i otherwise you would know that there are over 1200 species of plants native to Hawai'i. Of these, 90% of these species are found nowhere else in the world. They encompass a variety of plants including such temperate genera as rubus (rasperries- 2 species), Vaccinium (Blueberries-3 species), and viola (Violets- 7 species) and also a number of tropical and sub-tropical genera including Metrosideros (5 species)and Hibiscus (7 sp.) . These 1200+ species all evolved from less than 300 colonizing species arriving from all across the Pacific including the Americas (Native Mints) and the Artic (Violets), and many times radically changed from their ancestors (Silverswords) thus making Hawai'i a treasure-house for understanding evolutionary processes. Hawai'i is called the nickname "The Endangered Species Capital of the World" for a reason. We are home to half of the endangered plants in the USA and so much of our environment has been destroyed by humans and their introductions, especially in the last 200 years.

Let me provide you with the definition of native since you don't know it. provided the following concise definition:" Native Arrived in the Hawaiian Islands without the aid of humans (indigenous), or evolved in the Hawaiian Islands (endemic). " I will further add that Indigenous implies that the given plant is naturally found elsewhere as an endemic plant is only naturally found in a certain area and nowhere else. None of the mangroves fall into this definition as there is no evidence for them in pre-human contact Hawai'i, nor in pre-contact Hawai'i (Show me one Hawaiian language reference to them being native), and their very recent introduction to the islands is well documented. Thus, they are NOT native.

"if it were not for people the islands would be mostly grass (which explains why sugar cane does so well there) and yes, mangroves along the coastlines."

CiXeL it is pretty well established that grasslands were a rare part of pre-human contact native Hawaiian ecosystems. There are relatively few grasses when compared to native woody plants and ferns. Furthermore, sugarcane only does well in certain parts of Hawai'i and this has most to do with climate (amount of sunshine), available water, and soil-type. Also, to build the sugar plantations, native dry forest and wet forest along with native scrub-lands were cleared away, not grasslands. Mangroves are not native, the currents work against its arrival here even the coconut never made it to the main Hawaiian islands before human arrival for this reason.

"florida could look just like hawaii provided there was a small army of meticulous japanese men pruning and preening the vegetation and removing anything unattractive to replace it with something more attractive."

I have no idea where you got the idea for this, and quite frankly it show you know nothing about gardening in Hawai'i.

BTW, I am from Kailua, please never come back to my town, at least not until you learn a thing or two about the land that you're going to use and abuse.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:49AM
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