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Trees in Florida

The Semi-Tropical


Carefully compiled with alterations and additions from the "Centennial Collection" of George Vasey, Botanist of the United States Department of Agriculture, as published in the Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for the year 1875. Mr. A. H. Curtiss, of Liberty, Va., was employed as general collector for the the Southern States; and the semi-tropical trees of Southern Florida were obtained by Dr. A. W. Chapman, of Appalachicola, during a two month's cruise by schooner on the west coast, among the various keys and inlets, and into the interior on the Caloosahatchee River. Dr. Chapman is the author of the "Flora of the Southern States," and widely known for his extensive knowledge of our trees, shrubs, and plants. This list embraces a catalogue of the native and naturalized forest and other trees of Florida which attain a height of sixteen feet and upward, and if there are any omissions in this list we shall be glad to have them supplied and corrected by our correspondents.


Magnolia grandiflora, L.—Evergreen Magnolia—throughout the entire State too well known for description. One of our grandest trees!

Magnolia glauca, L.—White Bay; often called "Sweet Bay"—evergreen, and attains a large size along streams and in rich, bottom lands.

The M. Acuminata, M. Umbrella, M. Cordata, M. Fraseri, M. Macrophylla, and Liriodendron, or "Tulip tree,'' all belong to this class, but are not specially mentioned in our text as pertaining to Florida.


Anona.—Custard Apple—discovered by Dr. Chapman, in Southern Florida. It grows fifteen or twenty feet high—fruit small, and eatable when fully ripe. Species undetermined.

Asimina triloba, Dunal.—Paw-paw.—Found in various parts of the State. Fruit about fear inches long—oblong, pulpy, with a licit, luscious taste, when ripe.


Capparis Famaicensis, Jacq.—Caper Tree.—A shrub or small tree of South Florida, also growing in the West Indies. The true capers, of commerce, are the fruit of the Old World species.

Canella alba, Swartz.—White Wood; Wild Cinnamon. A small tree in South Florida. Bark aromatic and tonic, and much employed in medicine. Abundant in the West Indies.


Clusia flava.—A West India tree, said to have been found in South Florida, but not recently observed.


Gordonia Lasianthus, L.—Loblolly Bay.—A tree twenty to thirty feet high, growing in swamps, generally near the sea-coast. Evergreen—flowers snowy white, and sweet scented. Bark sometimes employed in tanning, as a substitute for oak-bark.

Gordonia pubescens, L'H.—Mountain Bay.—A rare tree—beautiful bloom, lasting for two or three months. Seldom over thirty feet high. Hardy as far North as Philadelphia.


Guaiacum sanctum, L.—Lignum Vitæ—A small tree, quite rare in South Florida, but common in West Indies. The wood is much heavier than water.


Zanthoxylum Carolinianum, Lam.—Southern Prickly Ash.—A small tree, with showy flowers—bark aromatic and tonic.

Z. Floridanum, Nutt.—The "Satin Wood" of South Florida.

Z. Pterota, H. B. K.—False Iron Wood; Yellow Wood.—A small, shrubby tree; wood yellow and close-grained.


Simaruba glauca, DC.—Quassia; Bitter Wood.—Found in South Florida by Dr. Blodgett. It is similar to the Simaruba amara of the West Indies, and possesses the same properties.


Burserace æ, Jacq.—Gummo Limbo, or "West India Birch."—The largest of South Florida trees, abounding in gum.

Amyris Floridana, Nutt.—Torch Wood.—Found in South Florida—generally a shrub—but sometimes a small, elegant tree—evergreen.


Ximenia Americana, L.—Hog Plum.—South Florida—mostly shrubby, but sometimes twenty feet high. Fruit, a drupe; size of air ordinary plum, yellow, and pleasant tasted.


Melia Azederach, L.—Pride of India, "China Tree."—A native of Persia, but naturalized and common throughout Florida. Very ornamental; flowers fragrant; wood of a reddish color, solid, durable, and susceptible of a beautiful polish. A well-known sub-variety of this species, called the "Texas Umbrella Tree," is said to have originated on the grounds of Governor Burnett, at the head of Galveston Bay.


Ilex Opaca, Ait.—Evergreen Holly; Common Holly. This tree resembles the European Holly, and frequently attains a height of thirty or forty feet, and ten to fifteen inches in diameter. Wood heavy, compact and fine-grained; sometimes employed in cabinet-work. The Ilex Dahoon, I. decidua, and I. monticola, are also found scattered throughout the State.


Schæfferea frutescens, Jacq.—The Crab Wood, or False Box, of South Florida. Wood close and fine-grained; said to be exported from the West Indies as a kind of box-wood.

Euonymus Atropurpurens.—The well known "Waa-hoo" of the Southern and Western States.


Scutia ferea.—Broug.—Found in South Florida.


Æculus Pavia, L.—Red Buckeye.—Generally a shrub of eight or ten feet, but sometimes becoming a small tree.

Sapindus marginatus, Willd.—Soap Berry.—Occurs along the coast of Georgia and Florida, and is also found in Texas and Arkansas. Sometimes called "Bread Tree." Berries a little larger than "China Berries," with a wrinkled, waxen appearance, when ripe.

S. Saponaria, of South Florida, generally called "White Wood." Found by Dr. Chapman. Berries larger than the foregoing. In West Indies the root and berries are used as a substitute for soap.

Hypelate paniculata, Don.— A small tree, having very valuable wood, like mahogany. Found in South Florida.


Rhus Metopium, L.—The " Coral Sumac,'' of South Florida, growing twenty or thirty feet, and very poisonous. In the West Indies it is called "Mountain Machineel" and "Burnwood."


Piscidia Erythrina, L.—A tolerable large tree, of South Florida, known as "Jamaica Dogwood." Grows, also, in West Indies. Blossoms resemble those of the Locust. Wood heavy, coursegrained and durable.

Gleditschia triacanthos, L.—The weIl-known thorny or "Honey Locust." Young plants sometimes used for hedging, and the " honey " of the long pods employed as one of the ingredients of persimmon and other domestic beer.

Pithecolobium Unguis-Cati, Benth.—The "Cat's Claw'' of South Florida, where it is mostly a shrub—rarely a small tree. The bark is said to have medicinal qualities.


Prunus Chicasa, Michx.—The Chickasaw Plum of the Southern States.

P. unbellata, Ell. —A small purple, or black plum, sour, bitter, and of little value.

P. Caroliniana, Ait.—The "Mock Orange," "Lauria Mundi," "Wild Peach," etc., etc., of the Southern States. Beautiful evergreen, either for shade, singly, or when used for ornamental hedges or screens. Resembles the "Cherry Laurel" of Europe, but is, when well-grown, a more beautiful tree.

Cratægus cordata, or "Washington Thorn" C. aborescens, C. æstivalis, C. flava, and C. glandulosa, are found sparsely scattered throughout the nothern and western portions of the State.


Liquidamber styraciflua.— Sweet Gum.—A beautiful ornamental tree, of symmetrical form and rapid growth. Common and well-known.


Rhizophora Mangle, L.—Red Mangrove of South Florida. A low, spreading tree, found covering the low keys along our south coast. It sends down roots which, upon striking the earth, form an impenetrable thicket, like the Banyan tree, of India.


Conocarpus ereca, Jacq.—White Button Wood.—A small tree of the West Indies and South Florida—used generally as firewood by the inhabitants of the latter country.

Laguncularia racemosa, Gært.—Black Button Wood.—Found by Dr. Chapman, in South Florida. A small tree or Shrub, except among the Thousand Islands and north of Cape Sable, where it forms quite a large tree.


Eugenia buxifolia, Willd.—Iron Wood.—Small trees, generally—belonging to tire myrtle family. Flowers of some species very fragrant. Wood close-grained, hard, and suitable for cabinet work. The E. monticola and E. procera both also called "Iron Wood," are found in South Florida. Also, the E. dichotoma, or "Stopper Wood."

Psidium pyriforme, L.—Guava.—This well known West India fruit tree may be cultivated profitably in our State, anywhere below the frost-line. Dr. Chapman found it in abundance at Tampa Bay; and it is probably safe to plant it freely south of lat. 29°.

Agricola Floridanum.

Excerpt from Reed, H., ed., "The Trees of Florida" The Semi-Tropical, A Monthly Journal Devoted to Southern Agriculture, Horticulture, and Immigration, Literature, Science, Art, and Home Interests, Vol III, No. 7, July 1877, pgs. 416-418.


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