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Native Trees & Shrubs of Florida

Native Trees & Shrubs - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

On this page - Sand Pine, Slash Pine, Red Mangrove, White Mangrove, Black Mangrove, Buttonwood, Laurel Oak, Sand Live Oak, Myrtle Oak, Turkey Oak

In northern Florida many of the trees from "up north" grow. Here Cherry, Apple and other fruiting hardwoods usually associated with the more northern states flourish.

Central Florida is usually a bit more mild in terms of cold weather & a wider variety of trees and other plants grow.

In south central and south Florida, where freezes and frosts are a still more rare occurrence begins the subtropical growing zone. At the southern tip of the peninsula and into the Florida Keys many rare & endangered tropical plants and trees may be found.

Over 3,100 plants including the 300 plus species of native trees, or about half of all the trees which grow in the entire continental U.S. occur as natives.

In addition to native species, over 1000 exotic trees and plants have gained a foothold in Florida's natural areas, particularly in the southern half of the state where many flourish virtually unchecked.

See the Exotic plant section for more information and pictures of these imported species, many of which have become a real problem.

Tree or Shrub?

A "tree" as described here is defined as a perennial woody stemmed plant, having a single main stem (trunk), that is 13 feet tall or more at maturity & having a distinct crown.

The term "shrub" denotes a woody stemmed plant usually having multiple stems (trunks) that never or rarely exceed 13 feet in height.

In some cases a plant that usually grows as a tree may assume a shrub-like habit of growth, the opposite is also true, under the right conditions some shrubs will grow as a small tree.

Trees & Shrubs Gallery 1

Click any image for a larger version

Sand Pine (Pinus clausa) image

Sand Pine, Scrub Pine - Pinus clausa

Family - Pinaceae

Habitat - Sandy ridges, open upland forests on deep, well drained, white sandy acidic soils.

Description - This Florida native may grow to 80 feet although it is more common at 25 to 30 feet. The open crown of a mature tree may be rounded or flattened, the bark is smooth and gray when young, becoming thick, scaly and reddish-brown with age. Cones are closed, 1 - 3 inches in length and unlike other pines may persist on the tree for years.

Two geographic varieties are generally recognized, Pinus clausa var. clausa (Ocala variety) normally occurs from northeastern to southern Florida and produces serotinous cones which can remain closed for years opening only after a fire, occasionally very high summer  temperatures on the surface of the sand on which the cones fall will open them.

P. clausa var. immuginata (Choctawhatchee variety) ranges from northwestern Florida into southeastern Alabama has non-serotinous cones.

Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii) image Slash Pine - Detail of needles image Slash Pine showing new growth at branch tip Slash Pine with pollen cones

Slash Pine, Yellow Pine - Pinus elliottii

Family - Pinaceae

Habitat - Moist to dry Flatwoods, Sandhill

Description - Slash pine is a large native tree that can attain 75 - 100 feet in height with a 3 to 4 ft. diameter trunk. Cones are 3 - 6 inches in length and to 3 inches in diameter. Needles 8 -12 inches long, 2 or 3 per fascicle (bundle). Crown is open, irregular, oval to pyramidal with ascending branches. Slash pine grows in well drained to moist sandy acidic soils and will tolerate moderate seasonal flooding once established. Scaly bark is grey with large orange-brown plates. Seeds from cones are a favorite of squirrels and wild turkey. Slash pine can live around 200 years, the thick bark protecting it from all but the most severe wildfires.

Red Mangrove image Image - Red Mangrove seedling

Red Mangrove - Rhizophora mangle

Family - Rhizophoraceae

Habitat - Shorelines of bays and estuaries of coastal counties on the central and southern peninsula below the freeze line.

Description - Native tree. The red mangrove can grow to 70 feet or more in height, more often a multi-stemmed shrub or tree to around 20 feet.

Easily recognized by numerous reddish aerial roots called prop (or stilt) roots, which provide an important protective nursery habitat for many marine species. Leaves are opposite, elliptical, the margin is entire, smooth, 1 to 5 inches long shiny green above, paler green below. A unique trait of the Red Mangrove tree is the seeds which germinate in the summer and fall, producing a tap root while still attached to the tree. These drop into the water, drifting with wind and currents until finally taking root in the shallow waters at the shoreline.

White mangrove leaf with salt glands

White Mangrove - Laguncularia racemosa

Family - Combretaceae

Habitat - Shorelines of estuaries and bays. White mangrove generally occurs on the upland side of mangrove forest in wet stagnant soils above the high water mark.

Description - Native. Distinguished from the other mangroves as having no aerial roots and the leaves which are elliptical, light yellowish-green with a pair of glands at the base of the leaf. Fruit is a greenish somewhat flattened drupe, wider toward the tip with numerous length-wise ridges.

Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) image

Black Mangrove - Avicennia germinans

Family - Verbenaceae

Habitat - Shorelines and tidal flats of bays and estuaries of coastal counties on the Florida peninsula.

Description - Native tree up to 50 feet in height often growing more inland than the other mangroves. It is easily identified by its above ground root projections, called pneumatophores which project upwards from lateral underground roots.

Leaves are opposite, elliptical to obovate, 2 to 5 inches long, dark green above, lighter green to yellowish silvery hairy below, the leaves often have salt crystals on their surfaces as the tree excretes excess salt through them.

Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) image

Buttonwood, Buttonwood Mangrove - Conocarpus erectus

Family - Combretaceae

Habitat - Shorelines of estuaries on the peninsula south of Cape Canaveral, above the high tide line.

Description - Native multi-stemmed shrub or small tree usually 15 feet or less, alternately arranged elliptic to lanceolate leaves to 4 in. long are shiny dark green on top, lighter green with fine hairs on the bottom, leaf margins are entire. Buttonwood is a very salt resistant and tough native tree well adapted to harsh conditions.

Laurel Oak leaf (Quercus laurifolia) Laurel Oak leaf (Quercus laurifolia) Laurel Oak bark (Quercus laurifolia)

Laurel Oak, Diamond Oak - Quercus laurifolia

Family - Fagaceae

Habitat - Wet to dry sites, swamps, bottomlands, river floodplains, wet flatwoods.

Description - Native Florida tree to 60 plus feet in height, with a dense, symmetrical oval to rounded crown & a trunk up to 4 feet in diameter. Leaves are 2 -4 inches long, alternate, simple, smooth, entire or parted, varied form; elliptic, oblanceolate, obovate, some with a distinct diamond shape. Spring flowers are an inconspicuous brown catkin. An attractive fast growing tree widely used in both commercial & residential landscapes.

Sand live oak (Quercus geminata Small)

Sand Live Oak - Quercus geminata

Family - Fagaceae

Habitat - Scrub, Coastal Hammocks & Dunes, Sandhills

Description - Growth habit may be as a large shrub to a medium sized tree, usually with contorted, twisted trunks. Open canopy, somewhat sparsely branched. Leaves are alternate, thick and leathery with rolled under, entire margins.

Myrtle Oak (Quercus myrtifolia) Myrtle Oak (Quercus myrtifolia)

Myrtle Oak - Quercus myrtifolia

Family - Fagaceae

Habitat - Scrub, Coastal Hammocks & Dunes, on deep sandy soils

Description - Evergreen tree to near 40 feet in height more often as a shrub, commonly grows in tangled thickets with contorted trunks. Leaves are 1 - 2 inches long, alternately arranged, with a smooth leathery upper surface and yellowish to rust colored underside, margins of leaves are usually turned under.

Image - Turkey oak (Quercus laevis) bark detail Image - Turkey oak (Quercus laevis) Leaf detail

Turkey Oak - Quercus laevis

Family - Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Habitat - Dry Pinelands, Sandy ridges, Oak/Pine woodlands

Description - Native tree growing to a height of 20-50 feet. A relatively short lived tree, Turkey oak acorns require two years to mature and are an important wildlife food source that are browsed by deer, Black bear and turkey. Leaves have 3 to 7 deep lobes, resembling the shape of a turkeys foot for which this tree was given its common name.

Native Trees & Shrubs - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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