Florida Tree Facts


Mention the orange tree (Citrus sinensis) and Florida comes immediately to mind. The orange tree most likely originated in China; soon after, traders introduced it to Mediterranean Europe around the 15th century. The wealthy cultivated orange trees in private conservatories named orangeries. The orange tree reached Florida via New Orleans in the 19th century. Today, it is one among a multitude of Florida trees.

Florida's State Tree

The state tree of Florida is the sabal palm (Sabal palmetto), so designated in 1953. Other common names for the sabal palm include cabbage palm, palmetto and cabbage palmetto. The hardy sabal palm is native to the southeastern United States. It grows widely in Florida, often reaching heights of up to 20 feet, producing small white flowers in the summertime. This tree provides an array of benefits in terms of food, medicine and landscaping. In 1970, the sabal palm replaced the cocoa palm on Florida's state seal. Beyond the United States, the sabal palm grows in Cuba and the Bahamas.

Distinguishing Feature

The black cherry tree (Prunus serotina) is a member of the Rosaceae or rose family, reaching heights of about 50 feet and exhibiting purplish-black fruit. While many of its fellow family members also grow extensively in Florida, the black cherry tree is the only one that produces timber as well as fruit. The hardwood from the cherry tree is important in various manufacturing industries, from furniture to boats to planning-mill products.

Endangered Species

The members of the Taxaceae, or yew, family comprise about 11 species. The Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia) is one of them. It is not a large tree, usually reaching no higher than about 40 feet in height, with an open crown and wide spreading branches. The bark is scaly and dark brown with orange tinges. Native to Florida and largely growing in western Florida on the banks of the Apalachicola River, the Florida torreya is on the federal list of endangered trees.

For Toothache & Rheumatism

The Hercules-club tree is more commonly called the toothache tree (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis). Its name refers to precisely what you may be thinking: the analgesics contained in the thin, gray bark produced treatments to soothe the pain of toothache and rheumatism. It is a small tree (no more than 40 feet in height) with horizontally-spreading branches.

Textbook Trees

"Trees of Northern Florida" by Robert K. Godfrey, Herman Kurz, and Mary Livingston, is a 1993 publication by the University Press of Florida, is a useful introduction to the diversity and abundance of trees in Northern Florida. The 348-page reference book provides identification data, descriptions, illustrations and geographical ranges of trees that grow in northern Florida.

Keywords: Florida state tree, black cherry tree, toothache tree

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Maureen Katemopoulos has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years. Her articles on travel, the arts, cuisine and history have appeared in publications such as "Stanislaus Magazine," "Orientations," "The Asia Magazine" and "The Peninsula Group Magazine." She holds a Baccalaureate degree in journalism from Stanford University.