Your Favorite Native Trees

In recognition of Florida’s Arbor Day, we posed a question on Facebook asking for your favorite native tree. We received 43 answers and some folks had a hard time choosing just one tree. Gail Sloane posted this: “South Florida favorite: Chrysophyllum oliviforme - Satin leaf. Here up north (Tallahassee), Husband says live oak, I say silverbell, no, wait - fringe tree, no...” Others had good reasons for their choices. Elizabeth Neily said, “Sabal Plam because it symbolizes Florida. The native people used it for a mulitude of products from making twine to building homes. Critters hang out in its branches and birds like its berries.” While Annette Nielsen added this: “Has to be the sabal (cabbage) palm, none other is as tenacious or as ubiquitous or as nourishing to so many!”

Live oaks can get really big. Make sure you have room in your
landscape. This giant is in Lake Griffin State Park south of Ocala.

Thanks for all your responses. They were fun to read, but the most chosen tree was the longleaf pine with six votes and second was live oak with five. You chose a wide variety both in appearance and distribution. Some of your trees occur in every county in the state, while others are limited to just a few counties in the south or a few panhandle counties.

Here’s the whole list with the number of votes and a link to Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants for each one, click it to see the natural distribution and photos.):

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) 6

Live oak (Quercus virginiana) 5

Cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) 3

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) 3

Swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var.biflora) 2

Gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba) 2

When grown in the open, bald cypresses form
a perfect pyramid shape. This is one of the few
deciduous conifers--it loses its needles in the fall. 
Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) 2

Slash pine (Pinus elliottii) 2

Geiger tree (Cordia sebestena) 2

Red bay (Persea borbonia) 2

Turkey oak (Quercus laevis) 2

Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) 1

Sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) 1

Water locust (Gleditsia aquatica) 1

Sand live oak (Quercus geminata) 1

Buccaneer palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii) 1

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) 1

Lignum vitae (Guajacum sanctum) 1

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) 1

Alligator apple (Annona glabra) 1

Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) 1

Sweet Acacia (Acacia farnesiana) 1

The American holly is known for its bountiful berries.
Make sure to plant both male and female hollies, if
you want berries.
American holly (Ilex opaca) 1

Satin leaf (Chrysophyllum oliviforme) 1

Silver bell (Halesia carolina) 1

Royal palm (Roystonea regia) 1

Chalk maple (Acer saccharum subsp. leucoderme) 1

Florida Yew (Taxus floridana) 1

Red maple (Acer rubrum) 1

Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia) 1

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) 1

Blue beech (Fagus grandifolia) 1

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) 1

Thanks everyone for voting.

Even though Florida’s Arbor Day has come and gone, there’s still time to visit your local native nursery and plant a native this year.

Ginny Stibolt
sue dingwell


daisy g said…
Do you have a listing of native nurseries? I'm looking for one in Polk County.
Ginny Stibolt said…
Hi Daisy,

The Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN) provides a nursery finding tool on their website:

Let us know what you planted.
Elizabeth said…
What a lot of interesting and varied responses! I missed the survey post somehow, but I would have a terrible time deciding between them...

Love the live oak photo - that's one massive tree.
daisy g said…
Unfortunately, there is only one native nursery in my area and they are only open to the public once or twice per year. Too bad...
V. Selley said…
I've been transplanting Maple trees and Oaks I find growing in weird places. I ask friends, "Do you want a tree?" :) That folks mow down trees, then plant new ones after they have built a structure just kills me... Build Around Existing Friends (Trees), if at all possible!

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