Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Trees: Water Toothleaf-Willow
water toothleaf native florida flowering shrubWater Toothleaf, Corkwood  (Stillingia aquatica)- Stillingia Aquatica, or more commonly known as Water Toothleaf, is a subshrub shrub of the genus Stillingia. Its duration is perennial which means it will grow year after year. Stillingia Aquatica or Water Toothleaf’s floral region is North America US Lower 48, specifically in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. This plant grows in depression marshes, ditches and freshwater ponds, in marshes, swamps and wet pinelands. It is a fairly common native plant found in the Everglades. It is used in native medicine. Typically 2-4 feet in height, water toothleaf is usually taller than broad. Similar in appearance to Stillingia sylvatica, this one only grows in very wet areas and is much taller. It tends to grow on a single stem with only a few leaves near the top. The leaf margins are not entire, but appear to have tiny glands. This open, bushy, much-branched plant tends to grow in colonies. Its leaves are narrow and its numerous yellow, 1 1/2 in., daisy-like flowers appear at the tips of long, slender, leafless stalks.

west indies mahagany a rare florida tree found mostly in key west and the everglades nowWest Indian Mahogany 
(Swietenia mahagoni)- West Indies mahogany occurs in the West Indies, Bahamas and South Florida. In Florida, West Indies mahogany is restricted to tropical hammocks in parks and preserves on the Upper Florida Keys, and on the mainland in upland coastal hammocks in Everglades National Park.  Mahogany formerly extended further north in Florida, but it has been cut to extinction.  West Indies mahogany is a grand tree with a broad, dense symmetrical crown and a straight trunk often buttressed and swollen at the base. It has the potential to get 75 feet  tall with a trunk diameter in excess of 2 feet, but such large trees are very rare. Most mahoganies are no more than 30-40 feet tall.  Mahogany is a semi-deciduous tree which loses its old leaves at the end of winter just as the new growth is beginning.  Mahogany produces small, fragrant, rather inconspicuous flowers on the year's new growth as the leaves are emerging, and both male and female flowers are produced on the same tree.

wild lime or cat's claw a florida native shrubWild Lime (Ximenia americana)- Wild Lime, also known as Cat's Claw for its claw-like thorns is a fantastic host plant for Giant Swallowtail  larvae, if you own a pair of leather gloves. Handling this plant will leave you frowning unless you use some caution. When the leaves are crushed they emit a lime-like aroma. Some people have reported skin irritation from the handling of this plant, so once again, please use caution. Wild Lime is a Florida native plant with bright green alternate leaves that blooms with tiny yellow flowers in the spring. In the fall, small fleshy fruits mature to a showy black color. Wild Lime is wonderfully drought tolerant once established and should require no further watering.



Wild Coffee:
shiny-leafed wild coffe found along roads in Florida wetlandsShiny-leaved Wild Coffee 
 (Psychotria nervosa)- Shiny Leafed Wild Coffee is a shade tolerant native shrub with flowers that attract butterflies and fruits that attract birds. The shiny leaves are an attractive, eye catching addition to any yard. Wild Coffee will grow both in sun or shade. It tends to grow taller (up to 10 ft.) and spread out more (up to 8 ft.) in a shady setting while full sunlight keeps the plant smaller. Wild Coffee does well in a wide range of soils from acidic to alkaline and it is moderately drought tolerant. It is not freeze tolerant which explains why South Florida is the northern extent of this plants range. Aside from Florida it is a common understory shrub in the West Indies, Southern Mexico, Central America and some areas in South America. Early settlers in Florida brewed a coffee substitute drink from the seeds of this plant.

velvet-leafed wild coffe plants growing wild in the Florida hammocksVelvet-leafed Wild Coffee (Psychotria sulzneri)- Found in the Florida hammocks, velvet-leafed wild coffee is a shrub with velvety leaves that set off clusters of greenish-white flowers and bright red fruits. Butterflies, such as the zebra longwing, visit the flowers. Birds eat the colorful fruit. These are great contributors to a low-maintenance, naturalized landscape.  The flowers are itty bitty little things,  but still a good source of nectar. velvet-leafed wild coffee is good to use to fill in partially shaded areas, more like a 4-5 foot tall groundcover, than a shrub

coastal plan willow, a perennial tree in floridaCoastal Plain) Willow  (Salix caroliniana) -The coastal plain willow is generally described as a Perennial Tree. This tree is native to the United States and has its most active growth period in the Spring . The Coastal Plain Willow has Green foliage and inconspicuous Green flowers, with inconspicuous White fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the Early Spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the Spring and continuing until Spring. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Coastal Plain Willow has a Long life span relative to most other plant species and a Rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Coastal Plain Willow will reach up to 33 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 33 feet.
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