A small, erect, evergreen tree 6 to 10 m tall with knee-like above-ground breathing roots. These knee roots comprise a sponge like system of air chambers, which act as an air reservoir when the roots are submerged. These roots are also covered with numerous pores, which allow air but not water to enter the root. Bark is light to dark grey or pale pink in colour and scaly at the bottom. Leaves are simple, opposite in arrangement, lanceolate in shape, about 7 to 12 cm long, shiny, dark green in colour with pointed apex. Inflorescence is a three-flowered cyme with about 1 cm long peduncle and axillary in position. Flowers are small, white in colour with 8-lobed greenish-yellow calyx, which is persistent, forming a cap-like structure above the propagules. Propagules are spindle shaped, 10 to 15 cm long, 0.5 to 1 cm in diameter, smooth, slightly curved, cylindrical and green to purplish-green in colour, which are buoyant and dispersed by currents.
Distribution: Red Mangrove is a species of mangrove found on coasts and riverbanks in East Africa and the Indo-Pacific region.
Red mangrove is found either as a dominant or co-dominant species in many of the mangrove ecosystem of the Maldives. It also found in the form of pure stands. A large number of young seedlings are found growing in the areas wherever this species is dominant.
It grows on light, medium and heavy soil but prefers silty clay soil and high- and mid- tidal zone for better performance. Its optimum soil salinity ranges from 8 to 34 ppt. It is propagated by propagules. Unlike in Avicennia spp., propagules of Bruguiera spp. are spindle shaped because hypocotyl penetrates the seed coat and elongates (called as viviparous propagules). Matured propagules are purplish-green in colour which can be collected from water or plucked from trees. They can be directly planted in the selected locations by inserting them up to one-third of their length into the soil. Nursery-raised seedlings 20 to 30 cm height can be also used for outplanting. Direct planting of propagules are economical and less time consuming
Mangroves in general are under threat from coastal development, and this species, which grows on the landward edge of the mangrove area, may be more threatened by rising sea levels than are other species because it may be unable to move further inland. There may be a decline in populations of this species due to habitat loss or harvesting, but it is a common species of mangrove with a very wide range, and is not declining at a sufficient rate to be included in any threatened category, so it is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being of "least concern".
Rhizophora mucronata has multiple uses. It is used to help prevent coastal erosion and in restoration of mangrove habitats. The timber is used for firewood and in the construction of buildings, as poles and pilings, and in making fish traps. The fruits can be cooked and eaten or the juice extracted to make wine, and the young shoots can be consumed as a vegetable. The bark is used in tanning and a dye can be extracted from both bark and leaves. Various parts of the plant are used in folk medicine.
In the Maldives, propagules are consumed after removing the skin and boiling them three to four times, first with ash to remove the bitterness and then with salt for taste. It is considered as a famine food and it was once planted in large areas in some islands, primarily for use during famine. It is also considered as a timber tree. Timber is hard and strong and used for boat building. Timber is normally buried in sand at the edges of the sea for about six months to prevent easy decay. Poles are used for house construction.