The problem with mangroves

The problem with mangrove observations is that the term “mangrove” is an ecological one, not a taxonomic one. So often, I see someone has uploaded a picture and IDed it as “Mangroves,” perhaps not realizing that in iNat terms, that takes it to Rhizophoraceae. And then someone else comes along, and identifies it more specifically as the Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) or the White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). And so the observation gets bumped all the way back to Dicots, because those are different families (Acanthaceae and Combretaceae, respectively).

Is there a solution to this? If the original observer knew that it was a mangrove (in the ecological sense), then bumping it back to Dicots is a terrible disservice. Is there a possible solution to this?


There was an interesting discussion on this very point at Ultimately given most solutions would be to create a grossly polyphyletic ID option, there isn’t a straightforward answer.

Also see for a possible solution


both groups (e.g. “slime/molds” to say it’s either a slime mold or fungi and not merely state of matter: life) or tags (“mangrove”) might be straightforward strategies to help.

I ran into this problem when I uploaded my observation of mangrove trees in St Lucia on the eastern coast of South Africa. I had done some quick googling beforehand so that I could suggest the most appropriate species, but it turns out there are six different mangrove species native to the country! Not only that, but they belonged to different families. In the end I simply put it as ‘Dicots’ and trusted that other people would be able to identify it for me.

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