Most people think of orange groves when they think of Florida, but the most common Florida trees also include oak, pine, fruit and, of course, palms. There are 27 different species of palm trees in Florida, of which only 12 are native to the state. Florida also has many varieties of fruit trees, including exotics like mangoes and bananas in the warmer parts of the central and southern part of the state.
If you visit Florida, even briefly, you will find a variety of trees along the coast, on the edge of rivers and swamps, and transplanted in urdan areas. The most common Florida trees you are likely to encounter are also usually the easiest to identify.
The Cabbage Palm, also known as the Sabal Palm, is Florida’s state tree and the most widely distributed palm tree in the state. The heart of the Cabbage Palm is considered a delicacy but kills the tree when harvested. This is a fan palm and the blades of the leaf grow 4 to 5 feet long. This tree grows in almost any soil including areas regularly washed by salt water, and can reach up to 80 feet high. It has white flowers in mid-summer and black pea-sized fruit in the fall. The palm fronds are sold to churches for Palm Sunday.
Royal palms are native to Florida and are also known as Cuban Royal Palm and Florida Royal Palm. They can reach up to 100 feet with leaf-blades reaching 18 to 36 inches, but they stand up well to Florida's hurricanes because of their thick trunks. The Royal Palm’s yellow flowers bloom in the summer. These palms are easily transplanted and are a favorite to developers for landscaping. While the State Tree, Cabbage Palm, is on the state seal, the Royal Palm adorns the state flag.
Laurel Oak is found throughout Florida's urban and rural areas and is used commonly as an ornamental tree. It is a tall, fast growing tree found naturally scattered within pine forests, as well as among other hardwoods near streams and rivers. The Laurel Oak regularly produces large numbers of acorns.
The native range of Turkey Oak covers all of Florida north of Orlando and is mostly foundon dry sandy ridges and bluffs along the coast. The name Turkey Oak refers to the shape of the 3-lobed leaves that resemble the foot of a turkey. The leaves are smooth and the light red-brown wood is distinctly heavy. The flowers appear in late spring and the fruit, or acorn, takes 2 years to mature.
Longleaf Pine, also known as Yellow Pine, takes 100 to 150 years to reach their full size and can live to 300 years old. While stands of the Longleaf Pine are found throughout the state, they are most common in central Florida. Longleaf Pine can reach a height of 100 feet. The crown is a "basketball-shaped" group of dark green needles which grow up to 18 inches long. The tree produces a woody cone up to 6 inches long and its thick, reddish-brown bark provides some fire resistance.
The Bald Cypress live along the edges of Florida’s natural waterways and swamps throughout the state and can live up to 600 years. Old-growth Bald Cypress are known for their "knees” protruding from the water, a unique buttressed trunk and a flattened crown draped with Spanish moss. Bald Cypress leaves are feathery looking and fall off in the winter.
Murcott, also known as the honey tangerine, is found all over Florida and is popular among orange growers. The tree itself can with stand cold weather, but growers must protect the fruit. This tree is medium in size with long, willowy branches and medium-small leaves that are shaped like a lance with a sharp point. The fruit is about 2.5 inches in diameter and has a smooth, thin skin that is easily peeled. The very juicy, sweet fruit ripens between January and March.
The Southern magnolia, also known as Bull Bay or Evergreen Magnolia, is one of the best-known trees in the state of Florida and is found on the border of rivers and swamps. It can reach a height of 100 feet with large, dark green leaves that are very glossy. The Southern Magnolia is best known for its large cream colored flowers that appear several times through the summer. The white petals surround a bright purple center (the stamens) and are complemented by bright red “fruit.” These flowers give off a fragrance that gives the tree the nickname, "Sweet Magnolia."