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Information on Koh Lanta Island:
Mangrove Forests of the East Coast

The word mangroves comes from the Portuguese word "mangue". Over the centuries, the name changed to mangrove and is today either used for this typical plant community , that grows along tropical coasts between the levels of high and low tide, but also to describe several vegetable species, that has adapted to the salty soil and the special conditions in a tidal area like Avicennia, Rhizophora, Sonneratia, Laguncularia, Xylocarpus and Heritiera.

Mangrove forests are limited to the high-humid climates between the tropic of Capricorn in the North and the tropic of Cancer in the South. They can be found at all shallow coasts, where a periodical change of fresh and sea water occurs and a certain different between high and low tide exists.

Two other typical plants of the coastal forests of South East Asia, the Nipa Palm (Nipa fructicans) and the spike-leafed fern Acrostychum, belong to the oldest higher plants on Earth and have not much changed during the last 60 Million years. The Nipa Palm is producing a sweet syrup, when the flowers are cut and in Thailand the leaves are used for cutting cigarette paper out of them.

The problem of staying in the soft mud
is solved by arched roots and the pneumatophores, coming out of the ground, are important for the supply with oxygen. The fruits of the plants are adopted in different ways to this special biosphere. Some are constructed like an arrow to fix into the mud, others are able to develop roots within hours, so that the next tide cannot wash them away.

For numerous animals the mangrove swamps are nursery or permanent living area and therefore from ecological significance.


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