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FYN Publications: Native Landscape Plants for South Florida

Medium & Large Trees

Note: U indicates plants commonly available in nurseries and/or garden centers in south Florida

Click on underlined scientific names for photos and/or more information.

 

Common name
Scientific name

Size
(feet)

Light
preference

Salt tolerance

Comments

Spineless acacia, cinnecord U
Acacia choriophylla

30

Full sun

High

Medium-sized tree with dense, rounded crown, long, bipinnate leaves, and tiny yellow to golden ‘pom-pom’ like inflorescences. Spines are much reduces, but still present. Also mistakenly known as A. choriophylloides.

Strongback U
Bourreria succulenta

30

Full sun to partial shade

High

Rapidly growing, evergreen tree with numerous small, white flowers followed by orange berries that attract birds. Commonly—but mistakenly—known as strongbark.

Gumbo limbo U
Bursera simaruba

20-50

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Grown for its attractive, peeling, bronze to red bark and its large, appealing form. Cuttings take easily but are weak-rooted. Not a strong tree; limbs may break in strong winds.

Myrtle-of-the-River
Calyptranthes zuzygium

20-40

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Large shrub to medium tree with olive-green leaves, pale, pink-tinged new growth and showy, fragrant, white flowers. Endangered in Florida. Related to spicewood, but with larger flowers.

Cinnamon bark
Canella winterana

10-30

Full sun to light shade

High

Very attractive, small, slow-growing tree with dense, broad crown; thick, aromatic leaves; fragrant, purplish flowers; and red berries. Flower aroma resembles daffodils; inner bark aroma resembles cinnamon. All parts poisonous, except berries. Canella alba is a synonym.

Satinleaf U
Chrysophyllum oliviforme

30

Full sun

Moderate

Very attractive tree. Tops of leaves glossy, vivid green; underside covered with soft, coppery brown hairs. Can be difficult to establish.

Fiddlewood U
Citharexylum spinosum

12-30

Full sun to partial shade

High

Large, densely leafy shrub to small tree with glossy, elliptical leaves and small, white, fragrant flowers. Female plants bear orange-brown berries that attract birds and other wildlife. Citharexylum fruticosum is a synonym

Pigeon plum U
Coccoloba diversifolia

5-30

Full sun to partial shade

High

Large shrub to small tree with dense, narrowly rounded, evergreen crown and attractive, peeling bark. Small, dark purple berries on female trees attract birds. Susceptible to weevils.

Sea grape U
Coccoloba uvifera

5-50

Full sun

High

Large shrub to large tree with large, thick, saucer-like leaves bearing attractive venation and edible fruit. Leaves can be messy. Susceptible to weevils.

Coffee
colubrina U
Colubrina arborescens

5-50

Full sun to partial shade

High

Large, course-leaved shrub/small tree with open crown of large, tri-lobed leaves, inconspicuous green flowers, and 3-seeded capsules. Attractive to butterflies and many other beneficial insects.

American persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

50

Full sun

None

Slow-growing, dioecious, deciduous tree with elliptical, two-tone leaves and black, textured bark. Females produce 2” fruits that ripen to deliciously sweet. Tends to root sucker. Choose named cultivars, such as ‘Triumph’. Prefers moist soil when in fruit. Attracts wildlife.

Inkwood
Exothea paniculata

10-30

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Evergreen shrub to medium tree with narrow, erect growth habit. Bark gray. Leaves shiny dark green. Small clusters of insignificant, fragrant, white flowers. Wood very strong. Sap turns black when exposed to air.

Shortleaf fig
Ficus citrifolia

25-50

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Medium-sized, fast-growing, attractive tree. Lacks typical ‘ficus’ aerial roots, but still requires adequate room for root development. Also known as wild banyan tree.

Longleaf blolly
Guapira discolor

30

Full sun to light shade

High

Attractive shade tree, especially for beach-front. Hardy and adaptable. Greenish flowers insignificant. Female trees bear small, red berries.

Krug holly U
Ilex krugiana

30

Partial shade

High

Tropical holly with glossy foliage and black fruits. Well adapted to south Florida. Small, red berries ripen to black.

Black ironwood U
Krugiodendron ferreum

30

Full sun to light shade

Low

Evergreen tree with dark, emerald green, glossy leaves and small black berries. Narrow crown allows it to be planted in tight spaces.

Wild tamarind U
Lysiloma latisiliquum

40-60

Full Sun

Moderate

Attractive, fast-growing tree, but with weak wood.  Bipinnately compound leaves; small, white/pink, ‘pom-pom’ like inflorescences; and long brown seed pods.

Red mulberry
Morus rubra

70

Full sun

Low

Spreading crown with serrated, heart-shaped leaves with a rough upper surface. Relatively tasteless, copious amounts of fruit attract birds and other wildlife.

Jamaican dogwood
Piscidia piscipula

30-50

Full sun

High

Fast-growing, attractive, deciduous tree with dark green leaves and masses of white flowers prior to leafing out in spring. All parts of the tree are poisonous.

West Indian cherry
Prunus myrtifolia

20-30

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Accent or specimen tree with shiny, lime green, evergreen leaves and reddish-gray trunk bearing shallow cracks. Fruit is food source for many birds and small animals. Leaves and seeds poisonous to humans.

Laurel oak U
Quercus laurifolia

60-70

Full sun

High

Large, semi-evergreen tree with lance-shaped leaves, shiny green above and pale green below. Deeply furrowed bark. Pyramidal when young; rounded when full grown. Faster growing but weaker and shorter-lived than live oak. Very sensitive to being planted too deep.

Live oak U
Quercus virginiana

40-50

Full sun

High

Impressive, undemanding, tree—but not for small lots. Caterpillars, insect galls, and root rot sometimes a problem. Needs early pruning to properly shape into tree.

Soapberry
Sapindus saponaria

20-60

Full sun

High

Broad crown, dense foliage, and attractive yellow fruit. Excellent shade tree for small yards. Seeds poisonous.

Mastic U
Sideroxylon foetidissimum

50-70

Full sun

Moderate

Large tree with pale, bright yellow, fragrant flowers in summer, and fruit in late winter. Excellent resistance to storms. Mastichodendron foetidissimum is a synonym.

Willow bustic U
Sideroxylon salicifolium

10-30

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Evergreen woody shrub or medium tree. Bark gray. Leaves medium green, shiny above and dull below, with yellow veins. Flowers produced from warty pod-like structures

Paradise tree U
Simarouba glauca

30-50

Full sun

Low

Large, elegant tree with a broad crown of dark green, glossy leaves divided into 10-14 stiff, rounded leaflets. Separate male and female trees. Females produce an abundance of small fruit. Requires excellent drainage.

Mahogany U
Swietenia mahagoni

40-75

Full sun

Moderate

Attractive, storm-resistant tree. Prized, deep reddish colored wood. Falling woody cones can damage vehicles. Foliage occasionally chewed by insects.

Florida trema
Trema micranthum

5-30

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Usually an evergreen, sprawling shrub, but can grow to medium sized tree. Leaves alternate on branch, dull green, and rough textured. Insignificant flowers followed by tiny, yellow-orange berries all along the smallest branches.  

 

Native Plant Categories

The 135 native plant species listed in this publication are grouped according to their functions in the landscape. Separate pages are provided for the following categories: