Experience water at Kew Gardens
Water is one of the four elements that has inspired the floral displays in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. See displays dripping with watery-hued flowers, and find colourful sculptures amongst the mangrove roots.
Water is vital for all known forms of life. Mangroves depend on their unique watery habitat and have adapted to it by developing stilt-like roots. In turn, mangroves protect the habitat by buffering the shore from storm waves and providing a nursery for young fish. Many people depend on mangroves for their livelihood.
Red mangrove - a 'living armour'
Come and see red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
This amazing plant has stilt roots adapted to withstand total submersion in salt water and the action of tidal waves. They act as ‘living armour’, protecting tropical coastlines by dissipating the energy contained in storm waves breaking on the shore.
Kew's work with mangroves
Kew has worked with fishing communities in mangrove habitats around the world, replanting mangrove trees to save their livelihoods. Many fishing villages depend on these trees; their tangled roots are essential nurseries for young fish. People also use mangroves to make boats and termite-proof houses.
One third of mangroves have been lost since 1980, because of pollution, spreading coastal populations, salt and charcoal production and clearance for agriculture and shrimp farms. But people are starting to recognise the mangroves’ importance, and restore them.
About the water displays
Wander through our Caribbean habitat situated amongst the mangrove roots. It illustrates the importance of these extraordinary plants.
Birds like the roseate spoonbill and Wurdemanns’s heron eat shellfish such as the mangrove crab. In turn, crabs help mangrove forests grow by digging burrows and aerating the soil.
Some humans rely on these habitats for their livelihoods too, and you will find a sculpture of a fishing village by artist Cristina Ottonello in amongst the mangroves.