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FYN Publications: Native Landscape Plants for South Florida

Shrubs & Small Trees (P - Z)

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

Bitterbush
Picramnia pentandra

5-10

Full sun to deep shade

Low

Tough, shrubby tree with compound leaves and long, drooping inflorescences bearing tiny, fragrant flowers. Fruit are eaten by a variety of animals. Also the larval food plant of the bush sulphur butterfly.

Blackbead U
Pithecellobium keyense

10-20

Full sun to partial shade

High

Large shrub or small tree with leaves divided into four leaflets. New leaves tinged with red or maroon. Flowers are delicate, fragrant, and white to pink. Contorted bean pods split open to reveal black seeds covered with a fleshy red aril. Wood is weak.

Bahama or privet-leaf wild coffee
Psychotria ligustrifolia

6-9

Partial to full shade

Low

Densely leafy large shrub or small tree with dark green, glossy foliage. Like the other native wild coffees, it also bears a proliferation of red berries. Psychotria bahamensis is a synonym.

Wild coffee U
Psychotria nervosa

6-9

Partial to full shade

Low

Small, understory shrub with distinctive glossy, dark green leaves with deeply impressed side veins. Bears small, insignificant flowers, followed by prolific red berries.

Velvetleaf wild coffee U
Psychotria sulzneri

6-9

Partial to full shade

Low

Similar in all respects to P. nervosa, but with velvety, deep blue-green foliage. All wild coffees require some shade to look their best.

White indigoberry
Randia aculeata

1.5-10

Full sun to partial shade

High

Non-descript, upright shrub with fragrant flowers. Female plants bear white berries that are an intense blue inside. Main attribute is ability to grow under adverse conditions.

Myrsine
Rapanea punctata

25

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Evergreen large shrub to small tree resembling marlberry. Bark pale gray. Flowers small, white, sometimes with some purple. Berries dark purple or black. Myrsine floridana is a synonym.

Rouge plant
Rivina humilis

3-5

Full sun to full shade

Low

Unassuming, small, carefree plant with dark green, glossy leaves, tiny white flowers, and bright red berries.

American elderberry
Sambucus canadensis

10-15

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Bushy, multi-stemmed shrub with deciduous, compound leaves, tiny, star-shaped, white flowers, and shiny, blue-black fruit. Provides colorful autumn display of yellows, oranges, and reds. Branches brittle. Forms dense thickets by suckering from roots.

Maidenbush
Savia bahamensis

10-15

Partial shade

High

Shrub or small tree with whitish bark, pale green, alternate leaves. Native to FL Keys.

Inkberry
Scaevola plumieri

2-4

Full sun to partial shade

High

Short plant with succulent leaves and insignificant pink and white flowers. Spreads by underground rhizomes. Well-suited to sandy soils at beach-front.

Florida boxwood
Schaefferia frutescens

10-30

Partial to full shade

Low

Thin-branched, leafy shrub to small tree with dark green, shiny leaves and flowers and fruit (on female plants) all year. Can be pruned as a hedge.

Bahama senna U
Senna mexicana
var. chapmanii

3-5

Full sun to partial shade

High

Upright or sprawling shrub, with bipinnate leaves and terminal clusters of beautiful, orange-red flowers.

Saw palmetto U
Serenoa repens

3-8

Full sun to partial shade

High

Clumping fan palm with prostrate or upright trunks. One of the most abundant native palms in Florida. Green and silver forms available. Spreading tendency can be a problem when left uncontrolled. Petioles heavily armed.

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.

Necklacepod U
Sophora tomentosa

6

Full sun

High

Large, densely branched shrub with natural rounded shape. Bears clusters of yellow flowers at tips of branches. Fast-growing and easily cultivated. Seeds poisonous.

Bay cedar
Suriana maritima

6-12

Full sun

High

Evergreen shrub or small tree with clusters of small, leathery leaves and attractive, peeling bark. Will grow in sand or on bare rock. Good choice for beach-front sites.

Tetrazygia, West Indian lilac
Tetrazygia bicolor

6-12

Full sun to light shade

Low

Extremely ornamental shrub or small tree with elegant, glossy, dark green foliage and beautiful white and yellow flowers followed by purple-black berries. Highly attractive to birds. Branches die when pruned.

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.

Spanish
bayonet U
Yucca aloifolia

5-20

Full sun or partial shade

High

Trunk-forming yucca with dangerously pointed, strap-like leaves. Trunks often topped with large, upright clusters of creamy white flowers. Spreads to form thicket.

Bear grass, Adam’s needle
Yucca filamentosa

3-6

Full sun

High

Long, green, spear-like leaves edged with white threads, forming a basal rosette. White, bell-shaped flowers bloom in terminal spikes from mid to late summer.

Florida coontie U
Zamia floridana

1-5

Full sun to shade

High

Florida’s only native cycad. Comes in a variety of sizes and with narrow to wide leaflets. Separate male and female plants. Sole larval food source for atala hairstreak butterfly. Requires well-drained soil. Zamia pumila and Z. integrifolia are synonyms.

Wild lime U
Zanthoxylum fagara

20

Full sun

Moderate

Attractive tree with recurved spines, lime scented foliage, and insignificant yellow flowers that attract butterflies.

 

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: