Friday, January 20, 2006


We’re taking a short break from exploring Pennsylvania today to step into the beautiful world of Placencia, Belize.

Here are some mangroves for my blogging pals Trailhead and Gil (and for everyone to enjoy, of course). I fell in love with the mangroves in Belize – something about them really sings to me. Perhaps it’s because they look so much like an aquatic version of my beloved rhododendrons. Or maybe it’s because they are so captivatingly beautiful, and home to so many creatures. Whatever it is, I think you’ll agree that they are amazing!

We took a couple days to cruise through the mangroves with a local guide: Bernard of Ocean Motion Guide Service owned and operated by Bernard and Leslie. We traveled up the Monkey River and through the Placencia Lagoon. Among those roots we found fish, birds, bats, insects (some amazing butterflies), and huge, lounging iguanas. There are three types of mangroves in here (although they’re hard to distinguish in the pictures): the red, the black, and the white.

Mangroves propagate with these long bean-pod-like fruits which grow from the mangroves’ white flowers and sprout while still on the trees. The little sprouts drop into the water and catch hold of a bit of mud, and voilà, a new mangrove is born! Our navigator Bernard careened us through the narrow tunnels between the clumps of mangroves at amazing speeds, slowing only at the narrowest hair-pin turns! What a ride!

Bernard was extremely knowledgeable about the environment and culture of Belize, and told us so much about the plants, animals, and people, that these days I wish I’d taken notes!


  1. Do they need a tropical environment and are the flowers seasonal?

  2. Yes, mangroves (to my knowledge) are tropical. From what I know, they also grow around Southeast Asia, Southeast India, and even Florida! I'm sure they grow elsewhere too, so folks, by all means add to my list if you know other places where the mangroves grow!

    The flowers are indeed seasonal, and I was told that the mangroves in Placencia bloom white flowers in May... I've been to Belize twice - once in early March, and once in Mid-June... my next trip will have to include May! Amazingly, the Pacific Rhododendrons also bloom in May (although different rhododendrons are known to bloom at different months of the year).

  3. Yes!! So they ARE like the ones in the Florida Keys! We spent an entire day kayaking among them last time we were there. Occasionally we'd slip out of our kayaks and don our snorkel gear. You're so right about the tons of different life forms that call them home.

    Now I need to get to Belize.

    Thanks so much for this post -- it provided a nice little pushback to the seasonal affective disorder. :)

  4. Hi Jade,

    Thanks for the mangrove article.

    I grew up in the Philippines where my playground when I was a little boy was the mangrove tree. The island where I grew up was surrounded by mangroves. Looking at your photos reminded me of the good old days. :) I am attaching an article about this unique and exotic tree.
    Philippine Mangroves


  5. Hey Gil, thanks for the article! I'll take some time this afternoon ro read it... the images you sent the other day were absolutely gorgeous - after seeing those, I thought you might enjoy the mangrove pictures :) Some day I hope to have the opportunity to explore the Phillipines and many of the countries of the western Pacific!

    Trailhead - glad these pictures gave you a breather. I do hope you get the opportunity to visit Belize. There is much to see both on the coast and inland... I did a lot of exploring, but took very few photos. However, my memory is full of beautiful places, intelligent, kind people, and lots of rich history.


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