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LEXICON

 

 

mangrove

Name of a tropical tree or shrub growing in coastal wetlands near brackish and salt water areas of estuaries, including coastlines and shores. There are many varieties of mangrove, including the Sonneratia and Avicennia, the Rizophora species and the larger Bruguiera trees. Sonneratia and Avicennia have a long cable root system underneath the ooze as well as prickle roots, the so-called pneumatophores, growing above the surface of the shore-mud (fig.) and used for taken in oxygen through special pores during low tide. These pneumatophores also excrete excess salt making the shrub tolerant of high salinity. The Sonneratia and Avicennia differ in the colour of their leaves, with those of the Sonneratia usually being lighter in colour. Rizophora on the other hand are characterized by their distinctive long stilt-like buttress roots (fig.) that grow above ground (fig.) and which enable the sturdy tree to thrive in soft mud and prevent it from falling over during strong tides. The bruguiera trees grows in rather compacted mud which is inundated with water only during high spring tides. Mangrove has large round seed pods that grow separate from each other dangling from thin woody wires. The unusual seed pods of the bruguiera trees are equipped with dagger-shaped appendages (fig.) that enable them to penetrate the mud when they drop, so they won't drift away with the tide. Due to this mangrove forests often colonize large coastal areas, such as the Bay of Phang Nga in Southern Thailand. Its tangled root system form a natural habitat for many animals, such as mudskippers (fig.); mangrove crabs (fig.), including certain fiddler crabs (fig.); Yellow-ringed Cat Snakes; Mangrove Pit Vipers (fig.); Small-clawed Otters and Crab-eating Macaques, which in Thai are called ling sahaem (fig.), after the mangrove they often live in. Mangrove wood is burned to make charcoal (fig.). The different varieties in Thai are: lamphu (ลำพู) and lamphaen (ลำแพน) for species in the group Sonneratia, including the Mangrove Apple (fig.), prohng (โปรง) for Ceriops, sahaem (แสม) for Avicennia, gohng gahng (โกงกาง) or phang kah (พังกา) for Rizophora, and gohng gahng hua soom (โกงกางหัวสุม) for the Bruguiera, especially the Bruguiera gymnorrhiza. The gohng gahng or Rizophora have several subspecies which are commonly found in Thailand, including gohng gahng bai lek (โกงกางใบเล็ก) or ‘small leaves gohng gahng’ (Rizophora apiculata) and gohng gahng bai yai (โกงกางใบใหญ่) or ‘large leaves gohng gahng’ (Rizophora mucronata). The prohng or ceriops are also dived into two main species, i.e. prohng daeng (โปรงแดง) or ‘red prohng’ (Ceriops tagal) and prohng khao or ‘white prohng’ (Ceriops decandra). Often mangrove is generally referred to as ton gohng gahng (ต้นโกงกาง) for the tree and pah gohng gahng (ป่าโกงกาง) for the forest, regardless of the species, but also the term pah chai len (ป่าชายเลน) is frequently used, which literally means ‘wetland forest’ and refers to a forest at the estuary of a river, i.e. most likely mangrove. Besides this there are many other species, some of them found worldwide, including black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), white mangrove (Excoecaria agallocha) and red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). The latex or milky sap of white mangrove is known for causing blisters on contact with the skin and even temporary blindness if it contacts the eyes. Besides its nickname milky mangrove, it is therefore also given the epithet blind-your-eye mangrove, in Thai ton tah toom (ต้นตาตุ่ม), literally ‘sore eyes tree’ or ton tah toom taleh (ตาตุ่มทะเล), ‘sore eyes coastal tree’.