The following native trees of Pinellas County are being spotlighted for reforestation by local residents:
- Bald Cypress
- Green Buttonwood
- Red Cedar
- Red Maple
- Sea Grape
- Slash Pine
TREES are one of man’s best friends. They breathe out oxygen which we breathe in and they breathe in carbon dioxide which we breathe out. They also take in enormous amounts of carbon dioxide which we put out into the environment through industrial and energy production.
The shade of trees also cools us directly during hot seasons and can lower the cooling costs for our buildings when they are growing nearby. Trees also help to stabilize soil and hold water in the earth diminishing storm water runoff. We greatly help ourselves and the natural environment when we plant native trees.
Pinellas County Native Trees
Here is a list of native tree species available through the reclamation project in Pinellas County:
(deciduous = loses its leaves in winter) (specimen = can stand alone as an ornamental)
BALD CYPRESS (Taxodium distichum)
Deciduous conifer with mature height up to 50-80’ and spread up to 20-30’. It naturally occurs in wet areas but in the landscape is adaptable to drier (but not droughty) sites where it will not produce its characteristic “knees”. Like its cousin the redwood it can live 1000 years. Coppery to rusty orange fall foliage with a stately appearance in winter. Fast and easy to grow. It can be used as a specimen tree, shade tree, and near retention ponds, swales, and canals.
GREEN BUTTONWOOD (Conocarpus erectus)
Evergreen coastal tree up to 35-50’ tall and up to 15-40’ wide. Considered to be the fourth mangrove. It is very tough and durable and will grow in poor soils. Very drought and salt tolerant. Fast growing once established and hurricane resistant. Useful as a specimen, shade, or street tree, and for plantings near the shore.
RED MAPLE (Acer rubrum)
Showy deciduous tree up to 70’ in height and 40’ in width. Naturally occurs in wet or moist sites but is adaptable to drier (but not droughty) sites. Colorful red flowers in winter, red winged fruit in spring, and excellent fall color. Useful as a specimen or shade tree. Especially valuable in moist areas adjacent to retention ponds and in drainage swales.
SEA GRAPE (Coccoloba uvifera)
Unique large evergreen coastal shrub or medium size tree up to 35’ tall and 20’ wide. It has large interesting rounded leaves and the young leaves are an attractive mahogany color. Very drought and salt tolerant. Female plants produce grape-like fruit used by larger wildlife species and by people for making jelly. Good honey plant. Prunes easily. Useful as a specimen, shade tree (if pruned appropriately), as a large hedge or screening plant, for soil stabilization, or in coastal settings.
SLASH PINE (Pinus elliottii var. densa)
Tall needled evergreen with a potential height of 100-120’ and spread of 20-60’ wide. To protect itself from natural fires the young seedling goes through a “grass stage” for several years with no visible trunk. When ready it quickly sends up a trunk with the growing point now protected. Extremely drought tolerant. Provides good food, cover, and nesting opportunities for many species of wildlife. Wood used for building and furniture. Falling needles provide a very good garden mulch. Useful as a specimen or screening plant and in natural groupings.
SOUTHERN RED CEDAR (Juniperus virginiana)
Needled evergreen with a height from 20-60’ and spread of 10-30’. Conical in shape when younger and more spreading with age. Very adaptable; tolerant of alkaline soils, drought, and salt. Grows fast. Good bird cover and nesting tree. Female plant provides juniper berry type fruit much loved by birds. Wood used for pencils, boxes, and cedar closets. Useful as a specimen and as a hedge or screening plant.
How to Maintain Your Trees in Pinellas County
1: Prune properly. The dormant winter season is a great time to prune trees before they push out any new growth in the spring. Look at the overall structure of your tree and select which branches need to be removed. For people with black thumbs or who are new to pruning, it’s a good idea to hire a professional who can teach you the proper techniques or can simply do the pruning for you. Here are the basic guidelines:
2: Crossing branches. Branches that are crossing and rubbing against one another can create a wound in the bark. Generally, remove the branch that’s smaller in diameter to encourage the stronger and more robust branch to grow. Multistemmed trees can also be pruned to open up and thin out their form.
Dead and broken branches. Remove them with a clean cut so that the tree will self-heal. Leaving dead or broken branches on the tree can create rough breaks where moisture and organisms will move in and degrade the tree.
3: Low branches. You can “limb up” your tree to remove low branches as necessary. Removing low branches is a way to allow for more light into the space below your tree and is mostly for aesthetic purposes. Remove any low branches that are prone to damage, such as those near a roadway that might be impacted by a vehicle.
REMEMBER: You can be seriously injured or killed if you fall from a tree or are struck by falling trees or limbs. Please hire professionals to maintain and care for your trees.
To learn more about native trees, please visit the Florida Botanical Gardens (http://www.flbg.org/) or Native Plant Society (http://pinellas.fnpschapters.org/) websites.