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FYN Publications: Native Landscape Plants for South Florida

Shrubs & Small Trees (D - O)

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

Varnish leaf U
Dodonaea viscosa

18

Full sun to partial shade

High

Grown for its attractive stiff, shiny green leaves. Showy, yellowish, 3-winged capsules produced in terminal clusters; brown, pink or purple at maturity. Dense and fast growing. Used as free-standing specimen or hedge. Excellent for beach-front.

Coral bean U
Erythrina herbacea

3-15

Full sun

Low

Deciduous, 3-lobed compound leaves. Showy scarlet blossoms on tall stalks in spring, followed by large beans that split to reveal bright red seeds. May grow into small tree. All parts of this plant are poisonous; twigs prickly.

White stopper U
Eugenia axillaris

5-20

Full sun to dense shade

High

Pale, whitish bark and aromatic foliage that can be overpowering. Small, white flowers in midsummer are followed by small, purplish berries. Attractive to birds.

Redberry stopper
Eugenia confusa

6-18

Full sun to partial shade

High

Slow-growing shrub to small tree with attractive glossy leaves and red berries. Used as specimen plant or hedge. Narrow, upright growth suitable for restricted site.

Spanish 
stopper U
Eugenia foetida

18-36

Full sun to shade

High

Large shrub or small tree densely clothed with small, rounded leaves. Smallest flowers and fruits of all stoppers, but still attractive to wildlife. Excellent foundation or specimen plant.

Red stopper 
Eugenia rhombea

9

Full sun to shade

High

Reddish brown bark and elegant growth habit. Branches produced in flat sprays perpendicular to main trunk. Slow-growing and does not flower or fruit as a young plant.

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.

Florida privet 
Forestiera segregata

10

Full sun

High

Bushy shrub with insignificant flowers. Wildlife attracted to black fruit. Very tolerant of alkaline soils.  Can be used as hedge plant in place of ligustrum.

Lignum vitae U
Guaiacum sanctum

6-25

Full sun

High

Attractive, slow-growing, large shrub to small tree, with blue flowers year-round—but mostly in spring. Flowers followed by yellow seed pods which pop open to reveal shiny, bright red seeds. Extremely dense, prized wood.

Firebush U
Hamelia patens

5-15

Shady to dappled sun

Low

Produces attractive orange/red flowers year-round. Indifferent to soil, providing drainage is good. In shade, becomes less shrubby and more tree-like. Highly attractive to butterflies.

Joewood
Jacquinia keyensis

10

Full sun to partial shade

High

Slow-growing shrub with attractive foliage and showy, fragrant blooms. Good resistance to wind and salt spray. Shade from hottest sun beneficial. All parts poisonous.

Pineland lantana
Lantana depressa

2-4

Full sun

High

Low, sprawling, woody shrub with small, yellow flowers that attract a variety of butterflies. Beware of the invasive L. camara.

Buttonsage
Lantana involucrata

4-5

Full sun

High

Upright, woody shrub with small, gray-green, rough-textured leaves and small white flowers.

Morinda, redgal
Morinda royoc

5-10

Full sun to partial shade

High

Evergreen, vine-like shrub with long, thin leaves, small whitish to reddish flowers, and distinct yellowish fruit that smells of cheese when bruised.

Long-stalked stopper
Mosiera longipes

1.5-3

Full sun to light shade

Low

Small shrub with small, dark green, glossy leaves and pale green new growth. Small white flowers are delicate in appearance, and are followed by blackish purple berries. Psidium longipes is a synonym.

Simpson’s
stopper U
Myrcianthes fragrans

6-20

Full sun to partial shade

High

One of the most beautiful and ornamental native woody plants. Densely branched, densely leafy large shrub to small tree. Pure white, puffy flowers followed by large, bright orange berries that attract birds.

Wax myrtle U

Myrica cerifera

10-25

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Fast-growing shrub to small tree with small, evergreen leaves, inconspicuous flowers, and waxy gray fruit attached to the twigs. Leaves and fruit smell like bayberry. Tolerates periodic flooding. Natural insect repellant. Attracts birds. Tip dieback can be a problem.

Lancewood
Ocotea coriacea

15-25

Full sun to full shade

Low

Relatively short-lived, densely branched shrub or small tree with broad, oval crown, glossy leaves, inconspicuous flowers, and distinctive, dark purple or black berries held in a yellowish or reddish cup. Nectandra coriacea is a synonym.

 

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: