Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Native Trees That Are Found in Florida

Florida has everything from rich water-logged swampland to sandy salt-infused soils. In this environment, it is best to work with nature than against it. Native trees of Florida can handle the heat and the soil pressures of the environment. These three trees are all Florida natives and can be found strewn along roadsides, in fields, and in some landscaped yards.

Oxydendrum arboretum
Common Name: Sorrel Tree, Sourwood
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: With glossy leaves and flower clusters, this tree grows 30 to 70 feet high. The green leaves turn red in the fall. Branches are spreading and go all the way to the ground. Bark is red-gray and furrowed. Flowers are white and look similar to lily-of-the-valley blooms. Fruits are pale yellow and showy. Bloom season is July.
Planting Guide: Oxydendrum arboretum prefers partial shade and acidic well-drained soil.
Propagation: Sorrel tree is propagated by seed or softwood cuttings. Seeds are tiny and germinate well when planted under a plastic tent.
History: Tree is called sourwood for the acidic taste of the leaves.
Warnings: This tree has few pest and disease problems.
Distribution: Oxydendrum arboretum is found in AL, FL, GA, IN, KY, LA, MD, MS, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA and WV.

Pinus echinata
Common Name: Shortleaf Pine
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This pine grows 50 to 100 feet high with spreading branches and bright green needles. Needles are about 5 inches long. Cones are red-brown. Blooms are yellow and come between February and March.
Planting Guide: Pinus echinata should be in partial shade and dry sandy soils. It is drought tolerant.
Propagation: Shortleaf pine is propagated by seed that does not need pre-treatment. Cones can be collected at the end of summer and beginning of fall.
History:  This is a larval host plant for the Elf (Microtia elva) butterfly.
Warnings: This pine can be plagued with the southern pine beetle, root-rot, Nantucket pine tip moth and the fusiform rust.
Distribution: Pinus echinata is found in AL, AR, DE, GA, FL, IL, KY, LA, MD, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, TX, TN, VA, WV and DC.

Prunus serotina
Common Name: Black Cherry, Rum Cherry
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: A deciduous tree that grows 50 to 110 feet high, black cherry has arching branches and glossy leaves. Dark red fruits are a contrast to the white raceme flowers. It is fragrant and smells like cherries.  Green leaves will turn yellow in the fall. Bloom season is March through June.
Planting Guide: Prunus serotina prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade conditions. It is cold tolerant.
Propagation: Black cherry is propagated by seed, hardwood cuttings, semi-hardwood cuttings, root cuttings and softwood cuttings. Seed must be stratified in sand for 1 to 2 months and then cold stratified. Cuttings must be taken in the summer.
History: This is a larval host plant for the New England (Hemileuca lucina) buckmoth, Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterfly, Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) butterfly, and the Columbia (Hyalophora columbia) butterfly.
            This was once an herbal remedy used as a sedative and cough syrup.
Warnings: Seed, twigs and leaves are toxic if ingested. They have the cyanogenic glycoside amygdalin.
Distribution: Prunus serotina is found in AL, AZ, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, KS, LA, ME, MD, MA, MN, MI, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV, WI and DC.

These three trees are all designed for the rich Florida landscapes. They have interesting effects such as bringing butterflies into the landscape, and make for nice decorative specimen trees. Always check your soil and make sure that the soil in your yard will work for the specific tree you’d like to plant.


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