Native trees play an important role in the Northwest
Florida ecosystem, and they have become even more
important in recent years with the loss of natural habitats
because of development and coastal deterioration. Many
native trees are well-represented in this area, including
the Atlantic white cedar, southern magnolia, live oak,
longleaf pine, bald cypress, sand live oak, and dogwood.
Invasive trees and plants threaten all of these. Trees
provide us with a number of social, ecological, and
economic benefits. They help us breathe by removing
carbon dioxide, they improve air quality they filter
contaminants in soils to produce cleaner water, and they
prevent soil erosion. Trees also help reduce flooding by
intercepting rainfall, and they create a shade canopy that helps
cool hot streets and parking lots. A canopy of trees keeps the
water from heating in the bright sun, and a loss of this canopy
can effect the river ecology. Trees increase property values,
provide wildlife habitats, and offer shelter for animals and
livestock. One acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18
people to breathe each day. Planting 30 trees a year offsets the
greenhouse gasses you produce from your car and home. One
acre of new forest removes about 2.5 tons of carbon annually.
So, understanding and planting native trees in this region has
important benefits for us all.
Trees and Hurricanes
Hurricanes are common in Northwest Florida, so knowing which trees can sustain high winds is important. The trees that provide the best wind
resistance are often native to the state—oak, sand oak, southern magnolia, bald cypress, American holly, dogwood, and sweet gum. The longleaf and slash pine, turkey oak, pignut
hickory, and wax myrtle are classified by the University of Florida Extension Service as providing "intermediate wind resistance" The trees that are least able to survive
hurricane-force winds are the southern red oak, pecan, tulip poplar, black cherry, red maple, laurel oak, and water oak.
Left, bottom: Dogwood tree
Center: Tulip poplar
Right, top: Live Oak tree in Bagdad
Right,bottom: Magnolia blossom