Mangroves are a family of about 70 different species of trees worldwide. Mangroves grow in the tropics only and mainly in coastal areas. Mangrove forests have an important function in our ecosystem as natural coastal protection; the extended root systems of every mangrove tree are a nursery. Mangrove forests are among the most productive terrestrial eco systems. Mangrove plants require a number of physiological adaptations to overcome the problems of anoxia, high salinity and frequent tidal inundation. For instance, to adapt to the anaerobic mud, some mangroves have developed pencil like roots which come out into the air and is called Pneumatophores (breathing roots).
They provide critical habitat for a diverse marine and terrestrial flora and fauna. It provides habitats for fish, crabs, oysters, lobsters and shrimps. Their roots provide attachement surfaces for marine organisms such as colourful sponges. Mangroves plants filter out pollution, stabilize sediments, hold nutrients, protect the shoreline from erosions and provide food, nesting and nursery areas for a variety of animals. These plants are specially adapted to harsh environmental conditions and protect shorelines. They are a source of honey, firewood and medicines.
Fruits of some Mangroves are used in making pickle. Bark of some Mangroves are used for treating several ailments and it also produces substances used in tanning and dye making. Oil from seeds of some Mangrove species are used in making Soaps in Rajasthan. Meswak is a popular Mangrove which is scientifically proven to help in preventing tooth decay. Some Mangroves produce high quality honey which is commercially of high value.