University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #EES-57

Native Trees for South Florida1

A.W. Meerow, T.K. Broschat and H.M. Donselman2

In recent years, the subject of native plants has taken on new significance in Florida horticulture. Reasons for this include the loss of natural areas to development, coastal deterioration due to disturbance of native vegetation, and the naturalization of exotic plants that in some cases, may out-compete native species. Fortunately, relatively few of the hundreds of exotic ornamentals that have been introduced into the state fall into the latter category. Two in particular, Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolious) and punk tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia) 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 (Coccoloba uvifera), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola), live oak (Quercusvirginiana), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba), and silver buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) 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 are believed to require less irrigation and fertilization than exotics. However, recent research does not support this contention. Just because a tree is native to south Florida does not mean that it is native or adapted to all soil types and hydrological conditions found in south Florida. 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.

  2. Low maintenance: Native plants are considered to be resistant to pests and diseases in Florida because they have evolved under constant exposure to these organisms. While this is generally true for native pests, exotic pests, to which native plants have no evolved resistance, are regularly introduced, often with catastrophic outcomes. Thus plant diversity in the landscape is an important means of minimizing the risks from such pest or disease outbreaks. Of course, any newly planted tree, whether native or exotic, will require regular irrigation until it becomes established.

  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 increase in population places 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 and are required for restoration of disturbed areas within nature preserves.

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 and fertilization 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?

1. 

The paurotis palm (Acoelorraphe wrightii) is a native, clumping palm that makes an attractive vertical accent in close spaces.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

2. 

Pigeon plum (Coccoloba diversifola), a hardwood hammock-dwelling relative of the sea grape, makes a fine, slow-growing urban tree.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

3. 

The geiger tree (Cordia sebestena) has spectacular orange flowers and a high salt tolerance.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

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 vertically 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, rainfall, 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.

Nutritional requirements (Table 1) should be interpreted as: High: the species will typically suffer from moderate to severe deficiencies of one or more elements and plant growth and quality will be strongly affected. Regular fertilization may be required to keep these plants alive. Medium: Most plants will show mild to moderate deficiency symptoms of one or more elements. Regular fertilization will be required to completely eliminate deficiency symptoms. Low: Nutrient deficiencies are rarely encountered and fertilization is unnecessary.

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).

4. 

The silver buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus) is a very salt- and drought-tolerant species.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

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 Require-

ment

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

Leucothrinax morrisii

Key thatch palm

15-30

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High

Medium,

High

High

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

False Mastic

45-70

Slow

Wide

ST,T

High

High

High

Low

Myrcianthes fragrans

Simpson's stopper, 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

Medium

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

ascendens

Pond cypress

60

Medium

Wide

C,N,ST

Medium

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 Charac-

teristics

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

potassium and 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 reddish 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.

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 defoliated by geiger beetles.

Dipholis salicifolia

Willow-leaved bustic

Evergreen

Round

White

Insignificant

Year-round

Residences; parks

 

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 tree.

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

A tough pyramidal-shaped tree.

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.

Leucothrinax morrisii

Key thatch palm

Palm

Single-trunked

White

Showy

Spring

Residences; parks; medians

Slow-growing fan palm.

Lysiloma latisiliqua

Wild tamarind

Deciduous

Weeping, spreading

White

Insignificant

Spring, summer

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

This tree has a weeping form.

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

False Mastic

Evergreen

Round

Greenish-yellow

Insignificant

Spring, summer, fall

Shade; perimeters; parking lots; medians; residences

Female trees have messy fruit.

Myrcianthes fragrans

Simpson's stopper, 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. Susceptible to laurel wilt disease.

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

Deciduous

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 mahagoni

Mahogany

Evergreen

Round

Greenish-yellow

Insignificant

Spring

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

Mahogany webworm often defoliates tree briefly.

Taxodium ascendens

Pond cypress

Deciduous

Oval, pyramidal

Green

Cone

Spring

Parks; shade; residences; boulevards

Pyramidal growth habit when young. Has small, juniper-like leaves

Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress

Deciduous

Oval, pyramidal

Green

Cone

Spring

Parks; shade; residences; boulevards

Pyramidal growth habit when young. Has soft, feathery leaves.

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, February 2009 and March 2011. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

A. W. Meerow, former associate professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Ft. Lauderdale-REC; T.K. Broschat, Professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Ft. Lauderdale-REC, H.M. Donselman, former associate 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 UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.