16 March 2006

100 Florida Trees You Should Plant Instead of Oaks

I hate oak trees. Hate them with a passion. They dump incredible quantities of pollen in the air at this time of year and I must spend all day every day indoors in filtered air or I am utterly miserable. And yet every bit of new construction in this state includes half a dozen oak trees. Why? Because "people like oak trees." No, people just don't know any better. Most of us don't know anything about how many kinds of trees there are that you could plant instead of oaks. Many of them are beautiful, fragrant, showy, and offer as much shade as any oak tree. So as a public service I have decided to offer up the following list of:

100 Florida Trees You Can Plant Instead of Oaks
Sweet Acacia Acacia farnesiana
Florida Sugar Maple Acer barbatum
American Boxelder Acer negundo
Red Maple Acer rubrum
Silver Maple Acer saccharinum
Red Buckeye Aesculus pavia
Sea Amyris Amyris elemifera
Pond Apple Annona glabra
Black Mangrove Avicennia germinans
River Birch Betula nigra
Gum Bumelia Bumeli lanuginosa
Gumbo Limbo Bursera simaruba
Jamaica Caper Capparis cynophallophora
American Hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana
Pignut Hickory Carya glabra
Pecan Carya illinoensis
Mockernut Hickory Carya tomentosa
Water Hickory Carya aquatica
Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis
Southern Catalpa Catalpa bignoniodes
Sugarberry Celtis laevigata
Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis
Atlantic Whitecedar Chamaeycparis thyoides
Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus
Icaco Cocoplum Chrysobalanus icaco
Pigeon Plum Coccoloba diversifolia
Sea Grape Coccoloba uvifera
Soldierwood Colubrina reclinata
Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida
Swamp Titi Cyrilla racemiflora
Common Persimmon Diospyrus virginiana
Guianaplum Drypetes lateriflora
Inkwood Exothea paniculata
White Ash Fraxinus americana
Pop Ash Fraxinus caroliniana
Pumpkin Ash Fraxinus profunda
Water Locust Gleditsia aquatica
Loblolly Bay Gordonia lasianthus
Witch-Hazel Hamamelis virginiana
Dahoon Holly Ilex cassine
American Holly Ilex opaca
Eastern Redcedar Juniperus virginiana
Southern Redcedar Juniperus silicicola
Leadwood Krugiodendron ferreum
White Mangrove Laguncularia racemosa
Corkwood Leitneria floridana
Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua
Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera
Wild Tamarind Lysiloma latisiliqua
Bahama Lysiloma Lysiloma bahamensis
Southern Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora
Sweetbay Magnolia virginiana
Southern Crabapple Malus angustifolia
Red Mulberry Morus rubra
Wax Myrtle Myrica cerifera
Water Tupelo Nyssa aquatica
Black Tupelo Nyssa sylvatica
Wild Olive Osmanthus americanus
Hophornbeam Ostrya virginiana
Redbay Persea borbonia
Swampbay Persea palustris
Pinckneya Pinckneya pubens
Longleaf Pine Pinus palustris
Shortleaf Pine Pinus echinata
Loblolly Pine Pinus taeda
Slash Pine Pinus elliottii
Pond Pine Pinus serotina
Spruce Pine Pinus glabra
Ocala Sand Pine Pinus clausa
Jamaica Dogwood Piscidia piscipula
Blolly Pisonia discolor
Planer-Tree Planera aquatica
American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis
Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides
Swamp Cottonwood Populus heterophylla
Carolina Laurelcherry Prunus caroliniana
Black Cherry Prunus serotina
Flatwoods Plum Prunus umbellata
Myrtle Laurelcherry Prunus myrtifolia
Common Hoptree Ptelea trifoliata
Red Mangrove Rhizophora mangle
Carolina Willow Salix caroliniana
Black Willow Salix nigra
Sassafras Sassafras albidum
Paradise Tree Simarouba glauca
Mahogany Swietenia mahogoni
Baldcypress Taxodium distichum
Pondcypress Taxodium distichum ascendens
Florida Yew Taxus floridana Endangered!
Carolina Basswood Tilia caroliniana
Florida Basswood Tilia floridana
Florida Torreya Torreya taxifolia Endangered!
Florida Trema Trema micrantha
Winged Elm Ulmus alata
American Elm Ulmus americana
Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum rufidulum
Tree Sparkleberry Viccinium arboreum
Tallowwood Ximenia americana
Hercules Club Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Lime Prickly-ash Zanthoxylum fagara

So there. All of them are native (no invasive species here, no no), and I didn't even include palm trees or papaya.


ECF Pres. said...

I know you are just looking for some relief from your misery, and this is surely more than you care to read with pollen scarred eyes, but street tree selection is one of my soap box issues. Monoculture is always bad, bad, bad, but be glad they're not Bradford Pears. In bloom the BP smells like dead fish in a dishwasher set on the heavy duty pots and pans cycle.

Also, scratch elm, ash, birch, and pine from the list if you don't want pollen. Sadly, the suburban gardener has demanded trees that don't drop fruit so the female trees of most species have been displaced by males at the big box nurseries. This has tipped the balance to the point where pollen is now a problem in places that were once allergy free.

Scratch silver maple in Tampa. We have enough pedestrian problems without planting this shallow rooted, sidewalk eating, monster.

Otherwise a good list, and as you promised-no invasive species.

Smitty said...

Amen on the Bradford Pears! Landscape architects love them because they look just like the lollipop trees they put on their renderings. I've been beating the drum about their awful stench and messy droppings for years. If you want a pretty flowering non-native tree, it's hard to beat the Yoshino Cherry.

I will admit, regarding the ash, birch, pine, and elm, that I was picking trees to which I personally am not allergic. I have a very mild reaction to elm, but it is as I said mild and I also have strong personal and emotional attraction to elm trees.

Also, little known fact, pine pollen is in fact too large to be a human allergen (in most cases; some pine species, like white, have very fine pollen, but none of the pine trees down here do). It's the size of very fine sand grains, too large for the immune system to pay attention to. This is what three separate allergists have told me; they don't even include pine on scratch tests.

There are actually several trees on this list apart from silver maple that I personally would never plant, and several other native trees that I left off the list for other reasons.
The Mastic, for example, is a fine attractive native tree 60 feet tall, but its leaves smell like rotting cabbage; I figured I'd leave it off the list.
I included the mahogany on the list beacuse it's native in south Florida and very pretty, but in Broward County they plant the thing in parking lots all the time, and it has a fist-sized woody fruit that weighs, I don't know, about 10-12 ounces, that falls off and can break a windshield (which, incidentally, neither the county nor the city of Ft. Lauderdale will reimburse you for). It's a fine tree, of course, but you have to be careful where you put it. Then there are the tamarindo trees Palm Beach County plants in every lot (different from the Wild Tamarind I listed), which drops orange, pulpy fruit all over your car's paint job that is harder to get off than love bugs and seagull doots combined.

On this list, in the Tampa area, I think we would do well to see a lot more Redbay and Hornbeam. The two Tupelos I listed are also great trees, although they have little berries (smaller, actually, than acorns, and not sticky); they look a lot like camphor trees, which I happen to love and which I was sad to learn had recently been added to the state's list of invasive species. Mimosa is still not considered invasive, and they're wonderful trees.

I could go on and on. Trees are one the things I'm really into; like you it's a bit of a soap-box issue for me. I'd like the city to hire me as an arboriculture consultant or something... but then, that job doesn't actually exist. Oh well.

ECF Pres. said...

Glad to see I'm not alone in GWOBP.

Miamista said...

I've been loving your blog. I think I may stop hating Tampa b/c of it. Just want to say it man.

Smitty said...

Well if I can make just one Miamista not hate Tampa then I've done something good for this state.

Jason said...

I live in the Gainesville area and would love to find a nursery that sells the Florida maple (Acer saccharum floridanum AKA A. floridanum) in central Florida. Anyone have any suggestions?

Also, in reference to Smitty's comment on the mimosa not being considered an invasive species:
According to the Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests (Miller, 2003) publication, the silktree AKA mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) is definately an invasive species.

Thanks for a great blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Smitty. I want to plant a couple of wild tamarinds, but where do I get them? I am in Hollywood, by Young Circle. TIA, r e x @ r e x r o s e . c o m

Anonymous said...

Any idea where one can purchase slash pines in Broward County? I've called many nurseries- most had no idea what I was talking about. I hope you can help!! Thanks-

wholesale nurseries said...

TN Nursery is a state certified tree nursery specializing in native plants and trees, shrubs, fern, and perennials as well as pond plants and wetland mitigation.

Anonymous said...

Oak bashers go home! Oaks dominate for good reasons. Don't need to be planted exclusively but a very fine tree indeed.

thomas peter said...

I hate oak trees. Hate them with a passion. They dump incredible quantities of pollen in the air at this time of year and I must spend all day flowering shrubs

Martha Wiggs said...

We have no shade presently in our backyard and want a good shade tree without alot of mess. Live in Central Fla. Would like a fast grower if possible.i agree too many oaks. Any suggestions?

Matthew Smith said...

Fast growing? Red Maple is an easy pick. They look nice, provide good shade, and grow quickly. Red maples will get pretty big, too.
Depending how far south in Fla you are (I'd say Highlands County or south), you could consider the West Indian Mahogany, which is a nice native tree you'll want to purchase from a reputable nursery. It's threatened in the wild, so you'll be doing nature a favor by planting one, but the seed capsules it produces once it is mature can be pretty big, so it's best not to plant it right next to the driveway or parking pad. (Incidentally, this is the original source of mahogany wood, though other species are more commonly used now.)
Sweetgum grows quickly and is a very attractive tree but a lot of people don't like them because they produce large numbers of seed capsules ("sweetgum balls") that are a bit of a nuisance. Fortunately, there's a variant called 'Rotundiloba' that is fast-growing and retains sweetgum's excellent fall color properties (such as they are in Florida) but does not produce any fruit. (The leaves are rounded instead of pointed.)
You could also consider an ash tree. These will grow fairly quickly and there are several species that tolerate the Florida climate well, including green ash and pop ash, but I'd recommend Pop Ash. It's also called Carolina Ash, Florida Ash, Swamp Ash, and several other things (Latin: Fraxinus caroliniana). It will grow quickly though it tends to be somewhat smaller than sweetgums or red maples (plenty big for a nice shade tree, though). You'll have to look for it at a tree farm type of place, not Home Depot or Lowe's, but it's a carefree plant and one of the ashes least susceptible to ash borer.