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Native Trees for South Florida1

A.W. Meerow, H.M. Donselman, and T.K. Broschat2

In recent years, the subject of native plants has taken on new significance in Florida horticulture. Some of the reasons for this include the loss of natural areas to development, coastal deterioration due to disturbance of native vegetation, and concern about water use to support exotic landscapes composed of introduced species. The introduction of exotic plants that naturalize and, in some cases, out-compete native species, has become of great concern in various parts of Florida. Fortunately, relatively few of the hundreds of exotic ornamentals that have been introduced into the state fall into this category. Two in particular, Brazilian pepper (Schinusterebinthifolious) and punk tree (Melaleucaquinquenervia) have become noxious weeds in central and south Florida.

Many counties are considering landscape ordinances that require that a percentage of native plant materials be used in all future developments. Several have already implemented such ordinances. This will result in a need for wider availability of native plant materials. Woody landscape plant producers, landscape architects, and home gardeners in Florida need to become informed about and prepared for the production and cultural needs of native plants.

In actuality, native plants are not really new to our nursery industry. Many native trees are already well-represented in the inventories of south Florida nurseries. Such "staples" of Florida horticulture as sea grape (Coccolobauvifera), cabbage palm (Sabalpalmetto), mahogany (Swieteniamahagoni), bald cypress (Taxodiumdistichum), southern red cedar (Juniperussilicicola), live oak (Quercusvirginiana), southern magnolia (Magnoliagrandiflora), gumbo limbo (Burserasimaruba), and silver buttonwood (Conocarpuserectus var. sericeus) are all native to the state.

Arguments for the Use of Native Plants

A number of claims both for and against the use of native plants have been proposed. Some claims made in favor of native plants are:

  1. Energy efficiency: Because native plants are adapted to our soils, temperatures and rainfall patterns, they require less irrigation and fertilization. This argument can be true if several factors hold, namely that the right native has been chosen for the site to be landscaped, and the original soil profile and hydrology at the site have not been altered. For example, a wetland species like pond apple, Annonaglabra, is not going to prosper if planted on dry, limestone fill. All too often, native topsoils have been removed and water flow patterns changed during development. If such is the case, an attempt to recreate the original composition of trees and shrubs may fail. Of course, any newly planted tree, whether native or exotic, will require regular irrigation until it becomes established.

  2. Low maintenance: Native plants are resistant to pests and diseases in Florida because they have evolved under constant exposure to these organisms. Plants do not evolve in isolation. The resistance to pests and diseases is sometimes as much a result of interactions between the plants that make up a vegetational association as it is because of the individual genetic resources of any one particular species. Native plants may not demonstrate any "advantages" in this respect when planted in disturbed sites or mixed with species not usually associated with them. And certainly, as with any new planting, regular care during establishment is necessary.

  3. Ecological-educational factor: The use of native trees in landscapes preserves the state's natural resources. This argument is perhaps the best one for wider use of native plants. Florida's continued rise in population does place enormous pressures on our native vegetation. The educational benefits of native plant landscapes are of great value, particularly in teaching new residents about our state's natural bounty.

Arguments Against the Use of Native Plants

Claims made against the landscape use of native plants include:

  1. They are slow-growing. Plants differ in their growth rates as much as in any other characteristic. Native plants range as widely in this category as exotics. In many cases, slow growth rates can be improved with regulated nutritional levels during production. Cultivar selection and evaluation programs also can improve slow growth rates. In some situations, slow growth rates may be advantageous; for example, slower growing trees will require less pruning to control size or prevent interference with power lines.

  2. They are unattractive. Native plants include attractive trees like satin leaf (Chrysophyllum oliviforme)and more homely species such as wax myrtle (Myricacerifera). Both have a niche in landscape situations.

  3. Their propagation is difficult, therefore native plants are expensive. Certain plants become widely available in the trade in part because they are easy to produce. This knowledge comes about through research, in both the private and public sectors. It is true that many choice native species are tricky to propagate successfully, but on the whole, this is due to the fact that few research efforts have been applied in that direction. This is now beginning to change.

  4. They are generally unavailable. Even with the limited amount of in-depth knowledge on native plant propagation, there are currently more than 50 nurseries within the state listed by the Association of Florida Native Nurseries, with a combined plant inventory of more than 500 species. A substantial number of native species are already represented in the inventories of "traditional" nurseries.

Landscape Situations for Native Trees

In certain landscape situations, native plants are particularly desirable. These include:

  1. New development with pre-existing vegetation in which a tree canopy has been retained. Some showy exotics can look out of place in landscapes in which a great deal of pre-existing native vegetation has been spared the bulldozer's blade. In such developments, the use of additional native materials may create a more harmonious and aesthetic effect.

  2. Environmentally sensitive areas such as the coastal strand, barrier islands, and wetlands. These areas have suffered a great deal of mismanagement and shortsighted development. Many of the plants native to these environmentally sensitive areas are particularly adapted to the specialized conditions found there. The use of these native plants may actually help to slow further deterioration of some of these environments.

  3. Public areas (parks, beaches, nature centers). Native plants should be a priority in public areas for their environmental and educational value.

Considering Site Factors

The characteristics of the planting site must be carefully considered when choosing native plant materials for landscaping. First, some concerns relating to the past history of the site must be addressed.

What was the original vegetation of the area? This knowledge will indicate which native plants will perform best on the site. Assuming the native soil and hydrology have not been modified, native species that once grew in a given location are likely to do better when re-planted than species from very different types of native habitat.

Have the native soil and/or hydrology been modified? During development, topsoil is often removed and original drainage patterns disturbed. Fill soil of very different quality may have been brought in to replace the topsoil removed. If such is the case, it may be impossible to re-establish the same species that once grew on the site, or it may require a great deal of maintenance to do so.

Additional consideration must be given to the present condition of the site. Does the site accumulate standing water? What is the soil type: muck? white sand? coral rock? Is there salt spray exposure on the site? Will the landscape plants have to be integrated with turf, and possibly be subjected to turf-oriented irrigation practices? All of these factors will influence the degree of success with which particular native species will perform in a landscape. The size of the lot also may restrict the use of some species whose mature dimensions require a lot of space.

Finally, certain aesthetic factors come into play when choosing natives, just as they do with exotic plant materials. What landscape functions need to be fulfilled? Should the trees primarily provide shade, barrier effects, beauty in the form of flowers or fruit, or is low maintenance the main criterion for plant selection?

Planting Native Trees

Planting native tree species is no different from planting exotics. Amending the backfill soil (the soil originally excavated from and then returned to the planting hole) is not recommended. The top of the root ball of nursery stock should be placed in the soil at the same depth at which it grew in the field or the container. Large masses of circling roots in container stock should be slit lengthwise to stimulate lateral root production. It may be necessary or desirable to reduce top growth; this should be accomplished by thinning out (the well-distributed removal of one or several branches at their point of origin), rather than heading back (cutting all top growth back to approximately the same level). Thinning cuts will preserve the natural shape of the tree.

The trees should be regularly irrigated after planting, and a mulch of organic material is recommended. A top-dressing of a slow-release fertilizer can be applied within the dripline of the tree before the mulch is placed down. If rainfall is received on a regular basis in the first few months after planting, this may be sufficient for establishment of small container stock (1 gallon size). If not, periodic irrigation will be necessary. Larger plants may require a year or more to properly establish in the landscape. The frequency of irrigation (weekly, to several times per week during the first few months) will depend on temperature and the water-holding capacity of the soil. Irrigation frequency can be reduced in successive months. Generally, the production of new growth is the best indication that a tree is becoming established. Supplementary fertilization 1 to 2 times per year may be desirable, at least during the first year after planting. Some native plant producers recommend using fertilizer formulations with good trace mineral analyses traditionally designed for palms, particularly if the native trees are being planted on fill soils.

How to Use the Selection Table

Table 1 and Table 2 of native tree species suitable for use in south Florida will help in making the right choices for various landscape situations. The list is by no means a complete inventory of the subtropical or tropical tree species that are native to the state. However, the list is representative of those native trees that have proven themselves in the landscape, are available from nurseries, or are judged worthy of wider use and availability. The trees in the tables are arranged alphabetically by scientific name, accompanied by one or more common names (same list of trees in both tables).

Special attention should be paid to environmental factors such as soil pH, light requirements, and drought and salt tolerances (Table 1 ). Table 2 offers information on plant type, shape, flower color, flower characteristics, flowering season, and uses for the native trees listed. In Table 1 , drought tolerance refers only to Florida conditions and should be interpreted as follows:

High: will not require supplemental irrigation after establishment; Medium: may require occasional irrigation during periods of unusual water stress; and Low: will require supplemental irrigation during periods of drought.

Salt tolerance (Table 1 ) should be interpreted as follows: High: will withstand direct salt spray and soil salinity; Medium: should be protected from direct salt spray but will withstand moderately saline conditions; and Low: sensitive to salt.

Under the category of Hardiness Zone, subtropical refers to the transitional area between central and tropical Florida where an occasional winter frost will occur. Tropical refers to southernmost mainland Florida and the Keys where winter frosts are rare to nonexistent. To illustrate, silver buttonwood is categorized in Table 1 as a subtropical/tropical tree with a high tolerance for salt and drought. Before installing a large-scale landscape using native trees listed as tropical only, it is best to confer with your county cooperative extension service agent about minimum winter temperatures expected in your area. If a particular species can be used in central and north Florida as well, this has been indicated (Table 1 ).

Obtaining Native Plants

Native plants should not be transplanted from the wild without the permission of the landowner, and never from public lands. In general, it is best to leave wild populations intact, unless the plants face destruction from development. Superior clones in native populations should be identified where possible, and nursery stock propagated vegetatively or from seed. The advantages of seed vs. clonal propagation is that a degree of the genetic diversity of the species is maintained in cultivation.

There is a place in Florida horticulture for both superior exotic and native ornamentals. The "native plant movement" should not be looked upon as a threat, but as an impetus to add to the diversity of landscape materials at our disposal in Florida.

Tables

Table 1. Height, growth rate, soil pH, hardiness zone, salt tolerance, drought tolerance, light requirements, and nutritional requirements of native trees for south Florida.

Scientific

Name


Common

Name


Natural Height

(in feet)


Growth Rate


Soil

pH


Hardiness Zone*

Salt Tolerance


Light Requirement


Drought Tolerance


Nutritional Requirement


Acacia farnesiana


Sweet acacia
10-12
Medium

Wide

C,ST,T

Medium


High


High


Medium


Acer rubrum
Red maple
35-50

Fast

Wide

C,N,ST

Low


High


Low


Low


Acoelorrhaphe wrightii
Paurotis palm, everglades palm
15-25

Slow

Wide

C,ST,T

Medium


Medium, high


Medium


Medium


Amphitecna (Enallagma) latifolia
Black calabash
20-30

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Annona glabra
Pond apple, alligator apple
25-40

Medium

Wide

C,ST,T

Medium


High


Low


Low


Ardisia escallonioides
Marlberry, marbleberry
15-25

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


Medium, high, low


Medium


Low


Avicennia germinans
Black mangrove
20-30

Medium

Wide

T

High


High


Low


Low


Bourreria suculenta var. revoluta
Strongbark
20

Medium

Wide

ST, T

Medium


High


High


Low


Bumelia spp.
Buckthorn, saffron plum, bumelia
20-40

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST,T

Medium, low


Medium


Medium, high


Medium


Bursera simaruba
Gumbo limbo, tourist tree
40-60

Medium

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Canella alba
Wild cinnamon
20-35

Slow

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Chyrsophyllum oliviforme
Satin leaf
30-40

Slow

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Citharexylum fruticosum
Fiddlewood
25-30
Slow

Wide

C,ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Clusia rosea
Pitch apple, autograph tree
25-30
Slow

Wide

T

High


High


High


Low


Coccoloba diversifolia
Pigeon plum
25-30

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Coccoloba uvifera
Sea grape
15-30

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Coccothrinax argentata
Silver palm
10-20

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


Medium, high


High


Low


Conocarpus erectus
Buttonwood
30-50

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Cordia sebestena
Geiger tree
20-25

Medium

Wide

T

High


High


High


Low


Dipholis salicifolia
Willow-leaved bustic
30-50

Medium

Wide

ST,T

Low


High


Medium


Low


Eugenia spp.
Stoppers
15-20

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


Medium, high


High


Low


Exostema caribaeum
Princewood
20-25

Slow

Wide

ST,T

Low


High


Medium


Medium


Ficus aurea
Strangler fig
40-50

Fast

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Ficus citrifolia
Shortleaf fig
40-50

Fast

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Gordonia lasianthus
Loblolly bay
30-40

Medium

Wide
C,N,ST

Low


High


Low


Medium


Guaiacum sanctum
Lignum vitae
10-20

Slow

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Guapira discolor
Blolly
35-50

Medium

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Guettarda elliptica
Everglades velvetseed
10-20

Medium

Alkaline

T

Low


Medium


Low


Medium


Guettarda scabra
Rough velvetseed
15-30

Medium

Alkaline

T

High


High


High


Low


Gymnanthes lucida
Crabwood
15-30

Slow

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Hibiscus tiliaceus
Mahoe, sea hibiscus
30-45

Fast

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Hypelate trifoliata
White ironwood
30-40
Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Ilex cassine
Dahoon holly
25-40

Medium

Acid

C,N,ST

Medium


High


Medium


Low


Ilex krugiana
Tawnyberry holly
25-40

Medium

Wide

T

High


Medium


Medium


Medium


Ilex vomitoria
Yaupon holly
20-25

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST

High


Medium, high


High


Low


Juniperus silicicola
Southern juniper
25-30

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST

High


High


High


Low


Krugiodendron ferreum
Black ironwood
20-30

Slow

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Languncularia racemosa
White mangrove, white buttonwood
40-60

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


High


Low


Low


Lysiloma latisiliqua
Wild tamarind
40-50

Fast

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Magnolia grandiflora
Southern magnolia
60-100

Medium

Acid

C,N,ST

High


High


High


Medium


Magnolia virginiana
Sweetbay
40-60

Medium

Acid

C,N,ST,T

Low


High


Low


Medium


Mastichodendron foetidissimum
Mastic
45-70

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Myrcianthes fragrans
Twinberry
20-30

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


Medium, high


High


Low


Myrica cerifera
Wax myrtle
15-25

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST

High


High


High


Low


Nectandra coriacea
Lancewood
30-40

Medium

Wide

C,ST,T

Low


High


Medium


Medium


Persea borbonia
Red bay
50-60

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Pinus clausa
Sand pine
60-80

Slow

Wide

C,N,ST

High


High


High


Low


Pinus elliottii var. densa
South Florida slash
80-100

Fast

Wide

C,ST,T

Medium


High


High


Low


Piscidia piscipula
Jamaican dogwood, fish-poison tree
35-50
Fast

Wide

T

High


High


High


Low


Plantanus occidentalis
Sycamore
70-110

Fast

Wide

C,N,ST

Low


High


Low


Medium


Prunus myrtifolia
West Indian cherry
15-40

Medium

Wide

T

Low


High


Medium


Medium


Psuedophoenix sargentii
Buccaneer palm, cherry palm
10-15

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


Medium, high


High


Medium


Quercus laurifolia
Laurel oak
60-100

Fast

Wide

C,N,ST

Low


High


High


Low


Quercus virginiana
Live oak
50-80

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST

High


High


High


Low


Reynosia septentrionalis
Darling plum
20-30

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Rhizophora mangle
Red mangrove
30-80

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


High


Low


Low


Roystonea elata
Florida royal palm
60-125

Medium

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


Medium


Medium


Sabal palmetto
Cabbage palmetto, sabal palm
45-70

Slow

Wide

C,N,ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Salix caroliniana
Coastal plain willow
20-30

Fast

Wide

C,N,ST

Low


High


Low


Low


Sapindus saponaria
Soapberry
35-45

Medium

Wide

C,ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Schaefferia frutescens
Florida boxwood
20-40

Slow

Alkaline

T

Medium


Medium


Medium


Medium


Simarouba glauca
Paradise tree
35-50

Slow

Wide

T

Medium


High


High


Medium


Swietenia mahogani
Mahogany
35-60

Fast

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Taxodium distichum
Bald cypress
60-100

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST

Medium


High


High


Low


Tecoma stans
Yellow elder
10-20
Fast

Wide

ST,T

Medium


High


High


Medium


Thrinax morrisii
Key thatch palm
15-30
Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


Medium, high


High


Low


Thrinax parviflora
Florida thatch palm
20-25

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Thrinax radiata
Thatch palm
15-25

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High


Medium, high


High


Low


Tilia floridana
Florida basswood
30-60

Fast

Acid

C,N,ST,

Low


Medium


Low


High


Ximenia americana
Tallowwood plum
20-25

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Hercules club, toothache tree
25-50

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST

Medium


Medium


High


Medium


Zanthoxylum fagara
Wild lime
20-30

Medium

Wide

ST,T

High


High


High


Low


*C=Central; ST=Subtropical; T=Tropical; N=North

Table 2. Plant type, foliage and flower color, flower characteristics, flowering season, uses and notes for native trees for south Florida.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Plant Type


Shape


Flower Color


Flower Characteristics


Flowering Season


Uses


Notes


Acacia farnesiana
Sweet acacia
Evergreen
Oval, round


Yellow


Showy, fragrant


Year-round


Parks; medians


Small, thorny, bushy tree. Flowers used for perfume.


Acer rubrum
Red maple
Deciduous
Oval


Red


Showy


Winter, spring


Shade; perimeters; parking lots; medians; boulevards; residences; buffers


Excellent red fall color. Good for wet sites.


Acoelorrhaphe wrightii
Paurotis palm, everglades palm
Palm
Upright, clumping


White


Insignificant


Spring


Medians; residences; buffers


Susceptible to manganese deficiencies.


Amphitecna (Enallagma) latifolia
Black calabash
Evergreen


Round


Yellow


Insignificant


Spring


Parks; residences


Not particularly wind resistant.


Annona glabra
Pond apple, alligator apple
Evergreen


Oval


Whitish-yellow


Insignificant


Year-round


Buffers


Good for swampy sites.


Ardisia escallonioides
Marlberry, marbleberry
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant, fragrant


Fall


Residences; buffers


Often shrubby. Attracts wildlife.


Avicennia germinans
Black mangrove
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant, fragrant


Spring


Parks; residences (along estuaries); perimeters


Grows in brackish water sites.


Bourreria suculenta var. revoluta
Strongbark
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant


Year-round


Residences


Can be a large shrub. Native to the Keys.


Bumelia spp.
Buckthorn, saffron plum, bumelia
Deciduous, evergreen


Round


White


Insignificant


Fall


Perimeters; parks; parking lots


Several native spp. reach tree size; not all are cold hardy; thorny.


Bursera simaruba
Gumbo limbo, tourist tree
Deciduous


Round


Green


Insignificant


Winter, spring


Shade; perimeters; parking lots; boulevards; residences


Large branches will root directly in the ground. Attractive bark.


Canella alba
Wild cinnamon
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant


Spring, summer


Residences


An attractive native flowering tree. Not readily available.


Chrysophyllum oliviforme


Satin leaf
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant


Fall


Shade; parking lots; medians; boulevards;

residences; parks


Leaves glossy on top and bronzy satin below.


Citharexylum fruticosum
Fiddlewood
Evergreen


Round


White


Insignificant, fragrant


Year-round


Parks; boulevards;

residences


Forms with hairy leaves also occur.


Clusia rosea
Pitch apple, autograph tree
Evergreen


Round


Pink and white


Showy


Summer


Parks; residences


Has stilt roots. Leaves very tough and leathery.


Coccoloba diversifolia
Pigeon plum
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant


Spring


Residences; parks;

parking lots; medians; boulevards


Attractive bark. Variable leaf shape and size. Good small native tree.


Coccoloba uvifera
Sea grape
Evergreen


Round, spreading


White


Insignificant


Summer


Edible fruit; buffers; parks


Edible fruit used for jelly. Good seaside plant. Broad spreading.


Coccothrinax argentata
Silver palm
Palm


Single- trunked
White


Showy


Summer


Residences; medians; parks; parking lots


Excellent slow-growing native palm. Other similar species available.


Conocarpus erectus
Buttonwood
Evergreen


Round


Orange, purplish-green


Insignificant


Summer


Residences; parks; boulevards; medians; parking lots


Good seaside plant. A silver-leafed variety is widely grown.


Cordia sebestena
Geiger tree
Evergreen


Oval


Orange


Showy


Year-round


Residences; parks;

boulevards


Frequently attacked by geiger beetles that feed on leaves.


Dipholis salicifolia
Willow-leaved bustic
Evergreen


Round


White


Insignificant


Year-round


Residences; parks


Many species, some with edible fruits.


Eugenia spp.
Stoppers
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant


Spring, summer


Residences; parks


Many species, some with edible fruits.


Exostema caribaeum
Princewood
Evergreen


Oval


White


Showy, fragrant


Spring, summer


Parks; residences


Hard wood used for cabinetwork.


Ficus aurea
Strangler fig
Evergreen


Spreading


Orange


Insignificant


Summer


Parks; shade


This native ficus often begins its life as an epiphyte.


Ficus citrifolia
Shortleaf fig
Evergreen


Round


Yellow


Insignificant


Year-round


Residences; parks; boulevards


A native fig without aerial roots. Well-adapted for south Florida.


Gordonia lasianthus
Loblolly bay
Evergreen


Oval


White


Showy, fragrant


Summer


Residences; shade; parks; boulevards


A good native for wet areas. Only for northern part of south Florida.


Guaiacum sanctum
Lignum vitae
Evergreen


Round


Blue


Showy


Year-round


Residences; parks


A small, slow-growing native tree. G.officinale is similar.


Guapira discolor
Blolly
Evergreen


Round


Greenish-yellow


Insignificant


Spring, summer


Residences; shade; boulevards; parks


A drought-tolerant native tree.


Guettarda elliptica
Everglades velvetseed
Evergreen


Oval


Yellow


Showy


Spring


Parks; residences; shade


A small, tropical hammock tree with some shade tolerance.


Guettarda scabra
Rough velvetseed
Evergreen


Oval


White


Showy
Winter, spring


Parks; parking lots; residences


An attractive, salt-tolerant coastal native for south Florida.


Gymnanthes lucida
Crabwood
Evergreen


Oval


Red


Insignificant
N/A


Residences; parks


A small native tree that is not readily available.


Hibiscus tiliaceus
Mahoe, sea hibiscus
Evergreen


Round, spreading


Yellow, red


Showy
Year-round


Parks; buffers; problem tree


Wood can be weak. Requires shaping to be tree-like; weedy.


Hypelate trifoliata
White ironwood
Evergreen


Round


White


Insignificant
Spring, summer


Residences; parks


A small native tree. May not be readily available.


Ilex cassine
Dahoon holly
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant
Spring


Parks; perimeters; residences


Red-berried native holly. Grows in boggy sites.


Ilex krugiana
Tawnyberry holly
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant
Spring


Parks; residences; shade


A native, tropical holly.


Ilex vomitoria
Yaupon holly
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant
Spring, summer


Residences; parks; buffers


Selected varieties available.


Juniperus silicicola
Southern juniper
Evergreen


Pyramidal


Brown


Cone
Spring


Perimeters; parks; residences; buffers


This native pyramidal tree is well-adapted to Florida landscapes.


Krugiodendron ferreum
Black ironwood
Evergreen


Round


Greenish-yellow, green, yellow


Insignificant
Spring


Residences; parks; boulevards


Slow-growing; dense-wooded.


Laguncularia racemosa
White mangrove, white buttonwood
Evergreen


Oval


Green


Insignificant, fragrant


Spring


Shade; parks; perimeters; residences; buffers


Grows best in warm coastal areas.


Lysiloma latisiliqua
Wild tamarind
Deciduous


Weeping, spreading


White


Insignificant


Spring, summer


Residences; shade; boulevards; parks; parking lots; medians


This outstanding tree has a weeping shape.


Magnolia grandiflora
Southern magnolia
Evergreen


Oval


White


Showy, fragrant


Spring


Residences; parks; shade; perimeters; buffers; medians


This hardy tree has large, leathery leaves and showy flowers.


Magnolia virginiana
Sweetbay
Deciduous


Oval


White


Showy, fragrant


Summer


Residences; shade; parks; medians; boulevards


Good for wet sites. Attractive silvery leaves.


Mastichodendron foetidissimum
Mastic
Evergreen


Round


Greenish-yellow


Insignificant


Spring, summer, fall


Shade; perimeters; parking lots; medians; residences


Female trees have messy fruit.


Myrcianthes fragrans
Twinberry
Evergreen


Round


White


Insignificant, fragrant


Year-round


Residences; parks; medians; boulevards


A native shrub that can be pruned into a small tree.


Myrica cerifera
Wax myrtle
Evergreen


Oval


White


Insignificant


Summer, spring


Residences; parks; buffers; problem tree


Can be weedy. Root suckers profusely and stains masonry.


Nectandra coriacea
Lancewood
Evergreen


Oval, round


White


Insignificant


Year-round


Shade; perimeters; residences; buffers


A small native tree for the Keys.


Persea borbonia
Red bay
Evergreen


Oval, round


Green


Insignifcant


Spring


Residences; parks; shade; boulevards


Good for wet sites. Insect galls disfigure leaves.


Pinus clausa
Sand pine
Evergreen


Oval


Brown


Cone


Spring


Parks; shade; residences


Very tolerant of dry, sandy soils.


Pinus elliotti var. densa


South Florida slash
Evergreen


Oval


Brown


Cone


Spring


Parks; residences; buffers; boulevards


Intolerant of grade changes, irrigation, and traffic above the root system.


Piscidia piscipula
Jamaican dogwood, fish-poison tree
Evergreen


Spreading


Whitish-lavender, white, lavender


Showy


Spring


Parks; residences; medians


Bark and other tree parts have been used to stun fish. Native to the Keys.


Plantanus occidentalis
Sycamore
Deciduous


Oval, round


Green


Insignificant


Spring


Parks; residences; shade; boulevards


Large deciduous tree for moist sites. Exfoliating bark.
Prunus myrtifolia
West Indian cherry
Evergreen


Round


White


Insignificant


Spring


Parks; residences; shade


A tropical substitute for cherry laurel

(P. caroliniana)


Pseudophoenix sargentii
Buccaneer palm, cherry palm
Palm


Single- trunked
Yellow


Insignificant


Summer


Residences; parks


A very slow-growing, small native palm.
Quercus laurifolia
Laurel oak
Evergreen


Oval


Green


Insignificant


Spring


Shade; residences; parks; boulevards


A fast-growing, but comparatively short-lived tree.
Quercus Virginiana
Live oak
Evergreen


Spreading


Green


Insignificant


Spring


Shade; boulevards; residences; parks


A wind-resistant, long-lived oak.
Reynosia septentrionalis
Darling plum
Evergreen


Round


Greenish-yellow


Insignificant


Spring, summer


Residences; parks; boulevards


Fruits are edible.
Rhizophora mangle
Red mangrove
Evergreen


Round, pyramidal


Yellow


Insignificant


Year-round


Parks


A native stilt-rooted tree or shrub growing in salt or brackish water.
Roystonea elata
Florida royal palm
Palm


Single- trunked, columnar
Yellow


Insignificant


Spring


Parks; residences; boulevards; perimeters


Trunk diameter more uniform that the Cuban royal palm.
Sabal palmetto
Cabbage palmetto, sabal palm
Palm


Single- trunked
White


Insignificant


Spring, summer, fall


Residences; parks; boulevards; parking lots; medians; perimeters


Our state tree. Small plants are difficult to transplant.
Salix caroliniana
Coastal plain willow
Evergreen


Round


Green


Insignificant


Spring


Parks


Grows in wet areas around lakes and ponds.
Sapindus saponaria
Soapberry
Deciduous


Oval, round


White


Insignificant


Winter, spring


Parks; residences; boulevards


Fruit contains a soap-like material used in some tropical countries.
Schaefferia frutescens
Florida boxwood
Evergreen


Oval


Green


Insignificant


Spring


Perimeters; parks


Useful as a large, informal hedge.
Simarouba glauca
Paradise tree
Evergreen


Oval


Yellow


Insignificant


Spring


Residences; parks; boulevards


Does well in exposed locations. New foliage is red.
Swietenia mahogani
Mahogany
Evergreen


Round


Greenish-yellow


Insignificant


Spring


Residences; shade; parks; boulevards; medians; parking lots


Tolerates high winds. Mahogany webworm often defoliates tree briefly.
Taxodium distichum
Bald cypress
Deciduous


Oval, pyramidal


Green


Cone


Spring


Parks; shade; residences; boulevards


Pyramidal growth habit when young. Var. nutans common and more upright.
Tecoma stans
Yellow elder
Evergreen


Round


Yellow


Showy


Year-round


Residences; parks; boulevards


Must be trained and shaped into a tree.
Thrinax morrisii
Key thatch palm
Palm


Single-trunked


White


Showy


Spring


Residences; parks; medians


A slow-growing native. Other species of thrinax are cultivated.
Thrinax parviflora
Florida thatch palm
Palm


Single- trunked
White


Showy


Spring, summer, fall


Residences; parks; medians


A slow-growing native palm. Rarely cultivated.
Thrinax radiata
Thatch palm
Palm


Single- trunked
White


Showy


Spring


Residences; parks; medians


An excellent slow-growing native palm. Not widely available.
Tilia floridana
Florida basswood
Deciduous


Round


Yellow


Insignificant


Spring, summer


Buffers; parks; residences; shade


Sprouts vigorously from base. Good nectar source for bees.
Ximenia americana
Tallowwood plum
Evergreen


Oval


Yellow


Insignificant


Year-round


Parks; residences


Spiny stems, edible fruits.
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Hercules club, toothache tree
Deciduous


Round


White


Insignificant


Spring


Buffers; perimeters; parks


Thorny.
Zanthoxylum fagara
Wild lime
Evergreen


Round, spreading


Green


Insignificant


Year-round


Parks; residences


Has recurved prickles. Foliage has lime aroma when bruised.

Footnotes

1. This document is EES-57, one of a series of the Florida Energy Extension Service, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Published: August, 1989. Revised: April 1999, October 2003. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2. A. W. Meerow, associate professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Ft. Lauderdale-REC; H.M. Donselman, former associate professor; T.K. Broschat, Professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Ft. Lauderdale-REC, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.The Florida Energy Extension Service receives funding from the Energy Office, Department of Community Affairs, and is operated by the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences through the Cooperative Extension Service. The information contained herein is the product of the Florida Energy Extension Service and does not necessarily reflect the view of the Florida Energy office.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension service.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean.


Copyright Information

This document is copyrighted by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of the State of Florida. UF/IFAS retains all rights under all conventions, but permits free reproduction by all agents and offices of the Cooperative Extension Service and the people of the State of Florida. Permission is granted to others to use these materials in part or in full for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given to the UF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and date of publication.

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