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Publication #CIR833

Native Trees for North Florida 1

Alan W. Meerow and Jeffrey G. Norcini2

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 to development of natural areas in the state, coastal deterioration due to disturbance of native vegetation, and concern about water use to support exotic landscapes. The introduction of exotic plant pests 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.

Many counties are considering landscape ordinances that require a percentage of native plant materials be utilized 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 designers, and home gardeners in Florida need to become informed about and prepared for the production and cultural needs of this type of plant material.

Native plants are not new to the Florida nursery industry. Many native trees are already well-represented in the inventories of north Florida nurseries. Such "staples" of north Florida horticulture as cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola), live oak (Quercus virginiana), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), and dogwood (Cornus florida) 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 for landscape performance of native plants are:

Energy efficiency. Because they are adapted to our soils, temperature, and rainfall patterns, native plants require less irrigation and fertilization.

This argument can be true only if several factors hold, namely that the right native has been chosen for the site to be landscaped, and that the original soil profile and hydrology at the site have not been altered. All too often, native topsoils have been removed and water flow patterns have been changed during development. If such is the case, an attempt to recreate the original composition of trees and shrubs may fail or require a great deal of extra maintenance to succeed.

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 can sometimes be as much a factor of interactions between the plants that make up a vegetational association as 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.

Ecological-Educational factor. Their landscape use preserves endangered natural resources of the state.

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, particularly in teaching new residents about our state's natural bounty, have great value.

Arguments against the Use of Native Plants

Claims made against the landscape use of native plants include:

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 increased nutritional levels during production. Cultivar selection and evaluation programs also 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.

They are unattractive.

Native plants include attractive, showy trees like southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and more homely species such as wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera). Both have a niche in landscape situations. Many native trees have a subtle beauty all their own.

Their propagation is difficult, therefore 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 difficult to propagate successfully, but on the whole, this is due to lack of research efforts and unavailability of information.

They are generally unavailable.

Even with the limited knowledge of native plant propagation, there are currently over fifty nurseries listed by the Association of Florida Native Plant Nurseries, with a combined plant inventory of over 500 species. A number of native species are already represented in the inventories of many nurseries.

Landscape Situations for Native Trees

In certain landscape situations native plant usage is particularly desirable. These include:

New development with pre-existing vegetation in which a tree canopy has been retained.

Showy exotics 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 to "naturalize" the area can create a more harmonious and aesthetic effect.

Environmentally sensitive areas, such as the coastal strand, barrier island, 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.

Public areas (parks, beaches, nature centers).

Native plants should be a priority in public areas for their environmental and educational value.

Site Factors to Consider When Choosing Native Species

Careful consideration to the characteristics of the planting site must be used when choosing native plant materials for landscaping. First, some concerns relating to the past history of the site must be answered.

What was the original vegetation of the area?

This knowledge will give an indication of which native plants will perform best on the site. Assuming that the answer to the next question is no, native species that once grew in a given location are likely to do best when replanted in comparison with species from very different types of native vegetation.

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 else require a great deal of maintenance to do so.

Secondly, considerations must be paid to the present condition of each planting site. If fill soil was added during construction, its composition can vary over a short distance. 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 these factors will influence the degree of success with which particular native species will perform in a landscape.

What landscape functions need to be fulfilled?

Certain aesthetic factors come into play when choosing materials natives, just as they do with exotic plant materials. Should the trees primarily provide shade, barrier effects, or beauty in the form of flowers of fruit, or is low maintenance the main criterion for plant selection? The size of the lot also restrict the use of some species whose mature dimensions require a lot of space.

Planting Native Trees

Planting native tree species is no different than planting exotics. Consider first the time of year the tree is to be planted. Containerized trees can be planted any time. Trees that are balled-and-burlapped can be planted in winter and spring. Bare-root trees should be planted only in the spring.

Amending the backfill soil is not recommended. The crown of nursery stock should be situated at the same level in the soil as occurred 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 (removing one or several, well-distributed 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 well irrigated after planting, and a 2- to 4-inch 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. If it rains on a regular basis in the first six months after planting, additional watering may not be needed during that period. If not, periodic irrigation will be necessary. Generally, supplementary irrigation is required during the first year after planting. The frequency of irrigation (weekly, to several times per week during the first month) 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 one or two times per year may be desirable, at least during the first year after planting.

Using the Native Tree Selection Tables

The tables which list native tree species suitable for use in north Florida will help in making the right choices for various landscape situations. These lists are by no means a complete inventory of the tree species native to the northern part of the state, but 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 two tables list the characteristics and environmental requirements of various native trees.

Special attention should be paid to environmental factors such as soil pH and light requirements, and drought and salt tolerances.

Drought tolerance refers to Florida conditions only 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

  • Low: will require irrigation during periods of drought.

Salt tolerance 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

  • Low: sensitive to salt.

Under the category of "Hardiness Zone," if a particular species can be used in central and south (subtropical and tropical) Florida as well, this has been indicated. 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.

In general, the best guide to determining which natives to use in a landscape situation is to become familiar with the species in the wild, and also to observe which species are performing well in nearby landscapes. Understanding the characteristics of the natural communities in which a particular species grows will provide insight into the cultural conditions necessary for that species to thrive in the landscape.

Obtaining Native Plants

Native plants should not be transplanted from the wild, unless the plants face destruction from development. Superior clones in native populations should be identified where possible, and nursery stock propagated vegetatively or by seed from them. The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) regularly publishes a bulletin called The Palmetto containing horticultural information on natives. You can obtain a copy by writing to:

FNPS
PO Box 278
Melbourne FL 32902-0278
Phone: (321) 271-6702 (cell)
FAX: (815) 361-9166
Email: info@fnps.org
Web: http://www.fnps.org
The best source of information on obtaining Florida native plants is Native Plant and Service Directory which is published by:
Association of Florida Native Nurseries
Phone: (877)352-2366
Email: info@afnn.org
Web: http://www.afnn.org

There is a place in Florida horticulture for both superior exotic and native ornamentals. The "native plant movement" should be looked upon as an impetus to add to the diversity of landscape materials at our disposal in Florida.

Tables

Table 1. 

Characteristics.

Scientific Name

Common Name

Natural Height

Plant Type1

Tree Shape2

Flower Color

Flower Characteristics

Flowering Season3

Acer rubrum

Red maple

35-50 feet

Decid

O

Red

Showy

W,Sp

Acer saccharum

Silver maple

40-70 feet

Decid

O

Pink

Inconspicuous

Sp

Acer saccharum var. Floridanum (A. barbatum)

Florida sugar maple

20-40 feet

Ever

R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Aesculus pavia

Red buckeye

15-25 feet

Decid

R

Red

Showy

Sp

Betula nigra

River birch

45-65 feet

Decid

O

Brown

Insignificant

Sp

Bumelia spp.

Buckthorn, Saffron plum, Bumelia

20-40 feet

Decid, Ever

R

White

Insignificant

F

Carpinus caroliniana

American hornbeam

25-35 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Carya aquatica

Water hickory

60-100 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Carya glabra

Pignut hickory

80-120 feet

Decid

R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Catalpa bignonioides

Catalpa

25-45 feet

Decid

R

White

Showy

Sp

Celtis laevigata

Sugarberry

40-60 feet

Decid

R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Cercis canadensis

Redbud

20-30 feet

Decid

R

Pink, White

Showy

Sp

Charmaecyparis thyoides

Atlantic white cedar

30-90 feet

Ever

O

Purple

Cone

Sp

Chionanthus virginicus

Fringe tree

10-30 feet

Decid

R

White

Showy, Fragrant

Sp

Cornus florida

Flowering dogwood

20-30 feet

Decid

R

White

Showy

Sp

Crateagus spp.

Hawthorns

15-25 feet

Decid

O,R

White

Showy

Sp

Diospyros virginiana

Persimmon

30-60 feet

Decid

O

White

Insignificant

Sp

Fagus grandifolia

American beech

50-100 feet

Decid

R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Fraxinus caroliniana

Water ash

40-60 feet

Decid

R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis

Thornless honey locust

20-50 feet

Decid

R

Orange

Inconspicuous

Sp

Gordonia lasianthus

Loblolly bay

30-40 feet

Ever

O

White

Showy, Fragrant

Su

Halesia caroliniana

Silverbell

15-25 feet

Decid

O

White

Showy

Sp

Ilex cassine

Dahoon holly

25-40 feet

Ever

O

White

Insignificant

Sp

Ilex opaca

American holly

30-45 feet

Ever

O

White

Insignificant

Su

Ilex vomitoria

Youpon holly

10-20 feet

Ever

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Juniperus silicicola

Southern juniper

25-30 feet

Ever

P

Brown

Cone

Sp

Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar

10-40 feet

Ever

O

Brown

Cone

Sp

Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweetgum

60-100 feet

Decid

P,O

White

Insignificant

Sp

Liriodendron tulipfera

Tulip tree

80-100 feet

Decid

O

Greenish yellow

Showy

Sp

Magnolia ashei

Ashe magnolia

10-20 feet

Decid

R

White

Showy

Sp

Magnolia fraseri var. pyramidata

Pyramid magnolia

20-50 feet

Decid

P

White

Showy, Fragrant

Sp

Magnolia grandiflora

Southern magnolia

60-100 feet

Ever

P,O

White

Showy, Fragrant

Sp

Magnolia virginiana

Sweetbay

40-60 feet

Decid

O

White

Showy, Fragrant

Su

Malus angustifolia

Crab apple

15-30 feet

Decid

R

Pink

Showy

Sp

Myrica cerifera

Wax myrtle

15-25 feet

Ever

O

White

Insignificant

Su,Sp

Nyssa aquatica

Water tupelo

30-50 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Nyssa slyvatica

Black tupelo

50-80 feet

Decid

O

White

Insignificant

Sp

Ostrya virginiana

Eastern hophornbeam

20-40 feet

Ever

V

Green

Insignificant

F,Sp

Oxydendron arboreum

Sourwood

10-40 feet

Decid

O

White

Showy

Sp,Su

Pinus clausa

Sand pine

60-80 feet

Ever

P,O

Brown

Cone

Sp

Pinus glabra

Spruce pine

30-50 feet

Ever

P,O

Brown

Cone

Sp

Pinus palustris

Longleaf pine

80-100 feet

Ever

P,O

Brown

Cone

Sp

Pinus serotina

Pond pine

40-70 feet

Ever

P

Brown

Cone

Sp,Su,F,W

Pinus taeda

Loblolly pine

80-100 feet

Ever

P,R

Brown

Cone

Sp

Planera aquatica

Water elm

15-50 feet

Decid

O

Yellow

Insignificant

Sp

Plantanus occidentalis

Sycamore

70-150 feet

Decid

O,R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Prunus caroliniana

Cherry laurel

30-40 feet

Ever

O

White

Insignificant, Fragrant

Sp

Prunus umbellata

Flatwoods plum

10-20 feet

Decid

R

White

Showy

Sp

Ptelea trifoliata

Hoptree

10-25 feet

Decid

R,S

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus alba

White oak

50-80 feet

Decid

R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus austrina

Bluff oak

25-40 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus chapmanii

Chapman oak

30-45 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus incana

Bluejack oak

20-30 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus laevis

Turkey oak

40-50 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus laurifolia

Laurel oak

60-100 feet

Ever

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus michauxii

Swamp chestnut oak

40-100 feet

Decid

R

Yellow

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus myrtifolia

Myrtle oak

10-25 feet

Ever

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus nigra

Water oak

60-100 feet

Ever

V

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus shumardii

Shumard oak

40-60 feet

Decid

O

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Quercus virginiana

Live oak

50-60 feet

Ever

S

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Sabal palmetto

Cabbage palmetto, sabal palm

45-70 feet

Palm

*

White

Insignificant

Sp,Su,F

Salix caroliniana

Coastal plain willow

20-30 feet

Ever

R

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Sassafras albidum

Sassafras

20-50 feet

Decid

R

Yellow

Insignificant

Sp

Stewartia malacodendron

Virginia stewartia

10-20 feet

Decid

R

White

Showy

Su

Styrax grandifolia

Snowbell

15-30 feet

Decid

O

White

Showy, Fragrant

Sp

Symplocos tinctoria

Sweetleaf

15-35 feet

Ever

O

Yellow

Insignificant

Sp

Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress

60-100 feet

Decid

P,O

Green

Cone

Sp

Tilia caroliniana

Carolina basswood

20-40 feet

Decid

O

White

Fragrant, Insignificant

Sp

Tilia floridana

Florida basswood

30-60 feet

Decid

R

Yellow

Insignificant

Sp,Su

Torreya taxifolia

Florida nutmeg

10-40 feet

Decid

R

Yellow

Insignificant

Sp,Su

Ulmus alata

Winged elm

20-40 feet

Decid

V

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Ulmus americana

American elm

80-100 feet

Decid

V

Green

Insignificant

Sp

Vaccinium arboreum

Sparkleberry

15-30 feet

Ever

R

White, Pink

Showy

Sp

Viburnum rufidulum

Rusty blackhaw

15-25 feet

Decid

O

White

Showy

F

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Hercules' club, Toothache tree

25-50 feet

Decid

R

White

Insignificant

Sp

1 Plant Type: Decid = Deciduous, Ever = Evergreen

2 Tree Shape: O = Oval, R = Round, V = Vase, P = Pyramidal, S = Spreading * = Single stemmed

3 Flowering Season: Sp = Spring, Su = Summer, F = Fall, W = Winter

Table 2. 

Environmental Requirements

Scientific Name

Common Name

Growth Rate

Soil pH1

Hardiness Zone2

Salt Tol.3

Light Requirements

Drought Tol.

Nutritional Needs

Acer rubrum

Red maple

Fast

W

C,N,ST

L

High

Low

Low

Uses: Shade, perimeters, parking lots, medians, boulevards, residences.

Notes: Excellent red fall color. Good for wet sites.

Acer saccharum

Silver maple

Fast

W

N

none

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Parks, shade, residences, buffers.

Notes: Extreme north Florida only. Weak-wooded.

Acer saccharum var. Floridanum (A. barbatum)

Florida sugar maple

Fast

W

N

L

Medium

Medium

Medium

Uses: Parks, parking lots, residences, shade.

Notes: Holds on to dead leaves in winter. Aphids can be a problem.

Aesculus pavia

Red buckeye

Medium

A

N

L

Low,Medium

Low

Medium, High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Often shrubby, best in half shade.

Betula nigra

River birch

Fast

W

C,N

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Shade, residences, buffers.

Notes: Suitable for wet sites. Attractive bark.

Bumelia spp.

Buckthorn, Saffron plum, Bumelia

Medium

W

C,N,ST,T

M,L

Medium

Medium, High

Medium

Uses: Perimeters, parks, parking lots.

Notes: Several native species reach tree size. Not all are cold-hardy. Thorny.

Carpinus caroliniana

American hornbeam

Slow

W

C,N

L

Medium

Low

Low

Uses: Residences.

Notes: Best for wet sites. Unusual sinewy branches.

Carya aquatica

Water hickory

Slow

W

C,N

L

High

Low

Low

Uses: Residences, boulevards.

Notes: Suitable for most sites.

Carya glabra

Pignut hickory

Fast

W

C,N

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Residences, shade.

Notes: Nuts can be messy.

Catalpa bignonioides

Catalpa

Fast

W

N

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Parks, shade, boulevards, residences.

Notes: Weak-wooded. Fruits unsightly.

Celtis laevigata

Sugarberry

Fast

W

C,N

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Shade, perimeters, parking lots, residences, parks.

Notes: Can be weedy.

Cercis canadensis

Redbud

Medium

W

C,N

L

Medium

High

Medium

Uses: Residences, parks, boulevards.

Notes: Flowers best if native sources are used.

Charmaecyparis thyoides

Atlantic white cedar

Slow

A

C,N

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Parks, specimen plants.

Notes: Good for wet sites.

Chionanthus virginicus

Fringe tree

Slow

A

C,N

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Often shrubby, subject to scale and mites.

Cornus florida

Flowering dogwood

Medium

W

C,N

L

Medium

High

Medium

Uses: Parks, residences, medians, boulevards, buffers.

Notes: Native selections are best. Pink and red forms will not flower in Florida.

Crateagus spp.

Hawthorns

Slow

W

C,N

L

High

High

Medium

Uses: Residences, parks, boulevards.

Notes: Thorny trees. Subject to fire blight. Many species available.

Diospyros virginiana

Persimmon

Medium

W

C,N

L

High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Residences, parks.

Notes: Improved cultivars available. Edible fruit.

Fagus grandifolia

American beech

Slow

A

N

M

Medium

Medium

High

Uses: Parks, residences, shade.

Notes: Shallow roots. Turf does poorly underneath. Performs best in panhandle.

Fraxinus caroliniana

Water ash

Fast

W

C,N

L

High

Low

Low

Uses: Parks, residences, shade.

Notes: Best for wet sites.

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis

Thornless honey locust

Fast

W

N

M

High

High

Medium

Uses: Parks, parking lots, residences, boulevards.

Notes: Very tolerant of city conditions.

Gordonia lasianthus

Loblolly bay

Medium

W

C,N,ST

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Residences, shade, parks, boulevards.

Notes: Suitable for wet sites. Flowers summer through fall. Can be difficult to establish.

Halesia caroliniana

Silverbell

Slow

A

N

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Pretty flowering tree for part shade. H. diptera also native.

Ilex cassine

Dahoon holly

Medium

A

C,N,ST

M

High

Medium

Low

Uses: Parks, perimeters, residences.

Notes: Red-berried. Suitable for wet sites.

Ilex opaca

American holly

Slow

A

C,N

M

Medium,High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Boulevards, residences, parks.

Notes: Showy red berries in winter.

Ilex vomitoria

Youpon holly

Medium

A

C,N,ST

H

Medium

High

Medium, High

Uses: Parking lots, parks, perimeters, residences

Notes: Showy red fruit on female trees. Often shrubby. Takes pruning well.

Juniperus silicicola

Southern juniper

Medium

W

C,N,ST

H

High

High

Low

Uses: Perimeters, parks, residences, buffers.

Notes: Well adapted to different site conditions.

Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar

Slow

W

N

M

High

Medium

Low

Uses: Buffers, parks, perimeters, residences.

Notes: Many cultivars available, but most may not be adaptable to Florida.

Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweetgum

Fast

W

C,N

M

High

High

Low

Uses: Residences, parks, shade, buffers.

Notes: Attractive fall color. Spiny fruits.

Liriodendron tulipfera

Tulip tree

Fast

W

C,N

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Residences, parks, boulevards, shade.

Notes: Very columnar trunk.

Magnolia ashei

Ashe magnolia

Medium

A

N

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Threatened species. Good in woodland understory.

Magnolia fraseri var. pyramidata

Pyramid magnolia

Fast

A

N

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, shade, residences.

Notes: Difficult in cultivation.

Magnolia grandiflora

Southern magnolia

Medium

A

C,N,ST

H

Medium,High

High

Medium

Uses: Residences, parks, shade, perimeters, buffers.

Notes: This tree has large, leathery leaves and showy flowers. Will take part shade. T-scale can be a problem.

Magnolia virginiana

Sweetbay

Medium

W

C,N,ST,T

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Residences, shade, parks, medians, boulevards.

Notes: Good for wet sites. Attractive silvery foliage.

Malus angustifolia

Crab apple

Medium

W

N

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Edible fruit. Short-lived. Susceptible to tent caterpillars and cedar-apple rust.

Myrica cerifera

Wax myrtle

Medium

W

C,N,ST

H

High

High

Low

Uses: Residences, parks, buffers.

Notes: Can be weedy. Root suckers. Stains masonry. Very low maintenance.

Nyssa aquatica

Water tupelo

Slow

A

C,N

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Excellent for very wet sites. Early fall color.

Nyssa slyvatica

Black tupelo

Medium

W

C,N

L

High

Low

Low

Uses: Shade, residences, boulevards, parks.

Notes: Best suited for wet sites. Good fall color.

Ostrya virginiana

Eastern hophornbeam

Medium

W

C,N

L

Medium

High

Low

Uses: Medians, parks, parking lots, residences.

Notes: Intolerant of wet soil. Grows well in poor, dry soil. Few pests.

Oxydendron arboreum

Sourwood

Medium

A

N

L

High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Good nectar source for honey.

Pinus clausa

Sand pine

Slow

W

C,N,ST

H

High

High

Low

Uses: Parks, shade, residences.

Notes: Very tolerant of dry, sandy soil.

Pinus glabra

Spruce pine

Medium

A

C,N

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Perimeters, parks, parking lots.

Notes: Susceptible to pine blister rust and borers. Attractive bark texture.

Pinus palustris

Longleaf pine

Medium

W

C,N

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Parks.

Notes: A common timber tree.

Pinus serotina

Pond pine

Medium

A

C,N

L

High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Parks.

Notes: Extermely tolerant of high and fluctuating water tables.

Pinus taeda

Loblolly pine

Medium

W

C,N

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Parks.

Notes: A tree used for lumber and pulpwood.

Planera aquatica

Water elm

Slow

A

N

L

High

Low

High

Uses: Parks.

Notes: Rare elm relative with excellent flood tolerance.

Plantanus occidentalis

Sycamore

Fast

W

C,N,ST

L

High

Low

Medium

Uses: Parks, residences, shade, boulevards.

Notes: Large, deciduous tree suited for moist sites. Exfoliating bark.

Prunus caroliniana

Cherry laurel

Medium

W

C,N

L

Medium,High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Residences, parks.

Notes: Will not tolerate hot, dry locations.

Prunus umbellata

Flatwoods plum

Fast

W

C,N

L

Medium

Low

Medium

Uses: Perimeters, parks, residences.

Notes: Edible fruit, but fruit quality variable. Early spring color. Tent caterpillars a problem.

Ptelea trifoliata

Hoptree

Slow

W

N

L

Medium

Medium

Medium

Uses: Parks, buffers, perimeters.

Notes: Flowers can be foul-smelling. Shrubby. Can be used as an informal hedge.

Quercus alba

White oak

Medium

A

N

H

High

Medium

Low

Uses: Parks, parking lots, perimeters, residences, shade.

Notes: Long-lived. Can be difficult to transplant.

Quercus austrina

Bluff oak

Medium

A

N

L

High

Low

High

Uses: Parking lots, shade.

Notes: A little-used native oak. Attractive bark.

Quercus chapmanii

Chapman oak

Slow

W

C,N

M

High

High

Low

Uses: Parks, residences, medians, boulevards.

Notes: A good, native oak for sandy sites.

Quercus incana

Bluejack oak

Slow

W

C,N

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Residences, parks, shade, boulevards.

Notes: A tough oak species suitable for poor soil.

Quercus laevis

Turkey oak

Slow

W

C,N

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Residences, parks, boulevards.

Notes: Excellent for dry, sandy sites.

Quercus laurifolia

Laurel oak

Fast

W

C,N,ST

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Shade, residences, parks, boulevards.

Notes: A fast-growing, but comparatively short-lived oak.

Quercus michauxii

Swamp chestnut oak

Medium

A

N

L

High

Low

High

Uses: Parks.

Notes: Iron and magnesium chlorosis on some soils. Handsome specimen where there is room for it.

Quercus myrtifolia

Myrtle oak

Slow

W

C,N

M

High

High

Low

Uses: Parks, residences, shade, boulevards.

Notes: A small, native oak good for dry, sandy sites.

Quercus nigra

Water oak

Fast

W

C,N

L

High

High

Low

Uses: Residences, shade, parks, boulevards.

Notes: Perfers moist, sandy sites. Relatively short-lived.

Quercus shumardii

Shumard oak

Slow

A

C,N

L

High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Medians, parking lots, parks, residences, shade.

Notes: Few pest of disease problems. Red fall color. Handsome street tree.

Quercus virginiana

Live oak

Medium

W

C,N,ST

H

High

High

Low

Uses: Shade, boulevards, parks, residences.

Notes: A wind-resistant, long-lived oak.

Sabal palmetto

Cabbage palmetto, sabal palm

Slow

W

C,N,ST,T

H

High

High

Low

Uses: Residences, parks, boulevards, parking lots, medians, perimeters.

Notes: Florida's state tree. Small plants are difficult to transplant.

Salix caroliniana

Coastal plain willow

Fast

W

C,N,ST

L

High

Low

Low

Uses: Parks.

Notes: Grows in wet areas around lakes and ponds.

Sassafras albidum

Sassafras

Fast

W

N

L

Medium

Low

Medium

Uses: Parks, perimeters.

Notes: Spreads by runners. Leaves have spicy odor when crushed.

Stewartia malacodendron

Virginia stewartia

Slow

A

N

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Attractive bark. Often shrubby. Best in part shade.

Styrax grandifolia

Snowbell

Medium

A

N

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences, shade.

Notes: Shade-tolerant. Can be trained as a shrub.

Symplocos tinctoria

Sweetleaf

Medium

A

N

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: A shade-tolerant native for moist sites. Sweet-tasting leaves.

Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress

Medium

W

C,N,ST

M

High

High

Low

Uses: Parks, shade, residences.

Notes: Pyramidal growth habit when young. Variety nutans common and more upright.

Tilia caroliniana

Carolina basswood

Medium

A

C,N

L

High

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Best on fertile, moist soil.

Tilia floridana

Florida basswood

Fast

A

C,N,ST

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Buffers, parks, residences, shade.

Notes: Sprouts vigorously from base. Good nectar source for bees.

Torreya taxifolia

Florida nutmeg

Fast

A

C,N,ST

L

Medium

Low

High

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Rare and endangered native conifer.

Ulmus alata

Winged elm

Medium

W

C,N

L

High

High

Medium

Uses: Residences, parks, medians, boulevards.

Notes: Interesting corking, winged bark.

Ulmus americana

American elm

Fast

W

C,N

L

High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Parks, residences, shade, boulevards.

Notes: Susceptible to Dutch elm disease.

Vaccinium arboreum

Sparkleberry

Medium

W

C,N

L

High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Parks, perimeters.

Notes: A blueberry relative with wide soil tolerances. Often shrubby.

Viburnum rufidulum

Rusty blackhaw

Medium

W

C,N

L

Medium,High

Medium

Medium

Uses: Parks, residences.

Notes: Largely pest-free. Attractive fruit.

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Hercules' club, Toothache tree

Medium

W

C,N,ST

M

Medium

High

Medium

Uses: Buffers, perimeters, parks.

Notes: Thorny.

1Soil pH: W = Wide, A = Acid

2Hardiness Zone: C = Central, N = North, ST = Subtropical, T = Tropical

3Salt Tolerance, L = Low, M = Medium, H = High

Footnotes

1.

This document is CIR833, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date September 1989. Revised March 2009. Reviewed July 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Alan W. Meerow, research geneticist, USDA ARS, Miami FL; Jeffrey G. Norcini, associate professor, North Florida Research and Education Center Quincy, FL 32351; Department of Environmental Horticulture; Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


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.