Florida Native Trees & Shrubs
Page 3

On this page - Gumbo Limbo, Jamaica caper-tree, Seagrape tree, Swamp Dogwood, Buttonwood, Black Mangrove, White Mangrove, Red Mangrove

Gumbo Limbo - Bursera simaruba

Image - Gumbo limbo tree Image - Gumbo limbo bark Image - Gumbo limbo fruit

Family - Burseraceae

Habitat - Coastal Hammocks, endemic to Florida within the continental U.S..

Description - Native Florida deciduous tree, 25-40 feet tall with an equal spread, may grow to 75 feet, though this is rare. Distinguished by its thin, copper colored, smooth peeling bark with green trunk underneath. Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound with leaflets having entire margins, elliptic to ovate, green, 2-4+ inches long. Inconspicuous green flower in spring.

Tolerant of a range of soils and salt spray, drought resistant when established and very wind resistant. Full sun to light shade.

Jamaica caper-tree - Capparis cynophallophora

Jamaica caper tree flowers Jamaica caper tree

Family - Capparaceae

Habitat - Coastal Scrub & Hammocks of South Florida.

Description - The Jamaica caper is a slow growing native tree that grows as a large shrub / small tree to a maximum height of about 20 feet, the stiff dark green leaves are 2-4 inches long and have bronze colored undersides. When grown in full sun the vase shaped canopy is very dense, as the amount of sunlight it receives decreases the canopy becomes more open and spreading.

Flower - Fragrant white flowers are produced primarily in spring with occasional flowers possible throughout the year, flowers turn pinkish-purple after opening and are followed by brown, fuzzy seed pods 2-7 inches long. These seed pods split open to reveal a fleshy orange inside with several 1/4 inch round, black seeds which several species of birds consume whole.

Seagrape tree - Coccoloba uvifera

Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) image Seagrape fruit

Family - Polygonaceae

Habitat - Rear of dunes, coastal hammocks, coastal strand.

Description - Native perennial tree to a height of 25 - 30 feet with an equal spread, usually with multiple low branching trunks.

Leaves are broad, dark green, 8 to 12 inches almost circular in shape with distinctive red veins. New growth in spring is a shiny bronze color.

Ivory-white flowers on racemes up to 30 inches long, followed by clusters of 3/4 inch diameter grape-like berries.

Swamp Dogwood - Cornus foemina

Swamp dogwood tree Swamp dogwood fruit

Family - Cornaceae

Habitat - Swamps, Mesic Hammocks, Floodplains

Description - Native Florida tree or large shrub to about 15 feet tall, leaves are simple, opposite, elliptic to lanceolate, dark green above & lighter green on the undersides, margins entire, undulate. Flowers are small white or slightly greenish produced in clusters in spring. Fruits are a bluish rounded drupe up to about 1/2 inch in diameter. Birds and other animals eat the fruit.

Buttonwood - Conocarpus erectus

Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) image

Family - Combretaceae

Habitat - Shorelines of estuaries on the peninsula south of Cape Canaveral, above the high tide line.

Description - Native multi-stemmed shrub or small tree usually 15 feet or less, alternately arranged elliptic to lanceolate leaves to 4 in. long are shiny dark green on top, lighter green with fine hairs on the bottom, leaf margins are entire. Buttonwood is a very salt resistant and tough native tree well adapted to harsh conditions.

Black Mangrove - Avicennia germinans

Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) image Black Mangrove fruit

Family - Verbenaceae

Habitat - Shorelines and tidal flats of bays and estuaries of coastal counties on the Florida peninsula.

Description - Native tree up to 50 feet in height often growing more inland than the other mangroves. It is easily identified by its above ground root projections, called pneumatophores which project upwards from lateral underground roots.

Leaves are opposite, elliptical to obovate, 2 to 5 inches long, dark green above, lighter green to yellowish silvery hairy below, the leaves often have salt crystals on their surfaces as the tree excretes excess salt through them.

White Mangrove - Laguncularia racemosa

White mangrove leaf with salt glands White Mangrove flower

Family - Combretaceae

Habitat - Shorelines of estuaries and bays. White mangrove generally occurs on the upland side of mangrove forest in wet stagnant soils above the high water mark.

Description - Native. Distinguished from the other mangroves as having no aerial roots and the leaves which are elliptical, light yellowish-green with a pair of glands at the base of the leaf. Fruit is a greenish somewhat flattened drupe, wider toward the tip with numerous length-wise ridges.

Red Mangrove - Rhizophora mangle

Red Mangrove image Image - Red Mangrove seedling

Family - Rhizophoraceae

Habitat - Shorelines of bays and estuaries of coastal counties on the central and southern peninsula of Florida, below the freeze line.

Description - Native tree. The red mangrove can grow to 70 feet or more in height, more often a multi-stemmed shrub or tree to around 20 feet.

Easily recognized by numerous reddish aerial roots called prop (or stilt) roots, which provide an important protective nursery habitat for many marine species. Leaves are opposite, elliptical, the margin is entire, smooth, 1 to 5 inches long shiny green above, paler green below. A unique trait of the Red Mangrove tree is the seeds which germinate in the summer and fall, producing a tap root while still attached to the tree. These drop into the water, drifting with wind and currents until finally taking root in the shallow waters at the shoreline.