Florida gardeners can choose from fruit trees that gardeners in other parts of the country can also enjoy and trees that are only hardy in the warm, tropical temperatures in the state. Fruit trees in Florida provide not only fresh produce, but shade from the Florida sun as well.
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) is also known as satsuma and tangerine and is a member of the citrus family. The mandarin orange tree grows from 15 to 20 feet tall, with lance-shaped evergreen leaves. The fragrant, white flowers bloom in March and April and are followed by the oranges that measure 2 to 4 inches in diameter. The fruit is ready to pick in November and December. Plant mandarin trees in full sun or partial shade, and moist soil. The tree is hardy in all of Florida and the Florida Keys except for U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 8A.
Kumquat (Fortunella spp) is also known as nagami kumquat and meiwa kumquat, and it is a member of the citrus family. The tree grows from 8 to 10 feet tall with evergreen leaves that measure from 2 to 3 inches long and are about half as wide. The flowers bloom in late spring and the bright orange, oblong, 2-inch-long fruit appears in the fall. Plant kumquats in full sun or in the dappled shade under a taller tree and a moist soil. The tree is hardy in north, central and southern Florida.
Sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) is a member of the buckwheat family. The tree can grow as tall as 50 feet, with heart-shaped, red-veined, evergreen leaves that measure about 8 inches in diameter. The small, fragrant, white flowers grow in hanging clusters that are from 6 to 10 inches long. Those on the female trees give way to the fruits which have a single, hard seed surrounded by soft flesh. The grapes are ripe when they turn a dark red. Plant sea grape in partial shade or full sun, and a soil that is moist to dry. The tree is hardy in USDA hardiness zone 10B in the south of Florida and in the Florida Keys. You can eat the grapes raw or make them into jelly or wine.
Wild plum (Prunus americana) is also known as American plum and is member of the rose family. The tree grows from 20 to 40 feet tall and produces deciduous, oval to elliptic-shaped leaves from 3 to 4 inches long, and thorns at the tips of the branches. The white-pink flowers bloom in the spring along with the leaves and measure 1 inch across. The flowers give way to yellow-brown to red-purple fruit that grows to 2 1/2 inches round. Plant wild plum in full sun and a soil that is moist to dry. The tree is hardy in north Florida.