Bahama Cassia

Bahama cassia is a tall upright shrub that achieves a height of 3 to 9 feet . This shrub produces little yellow flowers in the fall which accentuate the dark green leaves. Butterflies are attracted o the profuse flowers.

The Bahama cassia tends to be short-lived and may begin to decline after only four or five years. The short life-span is offset by self seeding. This feature creates both a source of new plants and creating a potential weed problem

Live Oak

The live oak is the state tree of Georgia and is known as the “southern symbol of strength”.   They can grow 60 to 100 feet with a trunk diameter of up to 6 feet!  The branches of these trees are usually draped in Spanish moss which is not harmful to the trees.  The leaves are approx. 2-5” long, elliptically shaped, stiff, shiny, dark green in color. The oaks also produce sweet, edible acorns for wild animals.

Live oaks can live on average 100 years or more.  The oldest live oaks in the country are estimated to be several hundred to a thousand years old

Laurel Oak

This oak is a fast growing, tall and full tree. They can grow to 60+ feet with a 3-4 foot diameter trunk.  The leaves of this oak are similar to the live oak with 3-4” elliptically shaped, leathery, dark shiny leaves.  The tree produces acorns usually solitary but occasionally in pairs.  It is an important food resource for birds and small mammals. 

Laurel oaks are mainly used for landscaping along with fuel wood and pulp wood for making paper.

Laurel Oaks have a 50-70 year lifespan.  Their tree trunks and branches usually hollow with decay while other type of oaks are more resistant and live longer.

Slash Pine

The Slash Pine is a medium to large conifer tree that can grow up to 100 feet with a trunk size of 3 feet in diameter.  They are found in the Coastal plain through north and central Florida.  The Slash Pine has “brooms” of needles at the ends of rough twigs - usually 2 brooms per twig. The needles can be anywhere from 5-11” long and are yellowish-green to bluish-green, stiff and slightly twisted.  Large red-brown cones also adorn this tree.

Slash Pines, back in the day, were a major source for the naval industry producing turpentine and rosins.  This use has all but disappeared.

The wood from these trees are typically now used for railroad ties, lumber, fuel and pulp.

This tree has a super long lifespans and can often live to be over 300 years old!

Neem Tree

A native tree of India, it is a very hardy tree that thrives in ecosystems ranging from the Sahara Desert to the wet and salty environment of the Florida Keys.  It is unique in that it contains an active insecticide found in the leaves and wood, so you won’t find any bugs in this tree!  In good soil it can grow 50-60 feet tall, live 200 years, and produce fragrant white flowers. The fruit it bears is like a stone fruit which is considered not pleasant tasting and quite bitter.  But it is best known for containing a chemical compound known as “Neem oil”. This oil is found concentrated in the seeds of this tree. Neem oil can be burned in lamps, used as a spermicide and is used in the manufacture of soap, toothpaste and skin care products.  But it is best known for its insecticide properties as it is effective against some 200 insect species.


The MORINGA tree is native to South Asia and Africa and has been planted throughout many tropical areas of the world. It is also known as the “miracle tree” (health), “horseradish tree” (taste of it roots) or “drumstick tree” (due to its long pods).

It can grow up to 20 feet tall bearing creamy white-yellow flowers with yellow anthers.

Farmers grow these trees to restore forests and to revitalize the soil.

The leaves of this tree are edible and can be used in salads. They add essential nutrients to diets i.e. calcium, Vitamin C and E, potassium, antioxidants and have many other health benefits. Here in the US, it has not been approved by the FDA, but is sold as an herb. However in India, it has been used for centuries and considered “a complete cure-all”, hence it’s other name -“miracle tree”.

Lemon Tree

The Lemon tree is thought to have evolved in the lower slopes of the Himalayan Mountains in eastern India.  It was introduced to Italy as early as 200 CE and widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean.  In 1493 it was introduced to the Spanish island of Hispaniola and from there to the first settlement of St. Augustine, Florida.

Florida’s leading  varieties grown are Bearss and Eureka.  The juice and oils are valued the most by processing plants.

The Lemon tree is a vigorous, upright and spreading tree that can grow up to 20 feet.  The fruit is a yellow oval with a nipple-like apex at the stylar (navel) end.

In Florida, flower buds start in November and blooming happens anywhere from December through March.  Trees can bloom again in June and November.

Lemon juice is a great source of Vitamins A & C.

Banana Tree

The Banana tree is native to Southeast Asia where it was cultivated for thousands of years.  Banana trees have been grown throughout Florida since the 16th century.  Florida is considered a climatically marginal area for commercial banana production due to the subtropical climate along with occasional freezes.

It is a fast growing plant consisting of one or more upright trunk-like structures.

They can grow up to 16 feet tall and have roots as deep as 5 feet.

The fruit is eaten fresh and can be used in salads, desserts, breads and candy.  They are a good source of Vitamin C, B6 and potassium.

Banana plants are also used in home landscaping for ornamental purposes adding a tropical atmosphere to the yard.  They are great sun-screens to shade southeastern or western walls.

Loquat Tree

The Loquat tree is native to southeastern and central China.  It was introduced into the US sometime before 1879 and into Florida before 1887.

It is a subtropical evergreen fruit tree that blooms in the fall and early winter and harvested during the spring.

Loquat trees may reach 20 to 35 feet in height with a rounded to upright canopy. 

Fruits are pome clusters of 4-30, oval to pear-shaped with a smooth peel that is light yellow to orange to dark orange in color depending on the variety.  They are sweet-tart to and juicy. The common name is the Japanese Plum.

Loquat may be eaten fresh without the peel, combined with other fruits in salads, pie fillings, sauces, gelatin desserts, jams and jellies.  The fruit can be canned, dried or frozen and made into a syrup.  They are a good source of vitamins and minerals i.e. potassium, magnesium, Vitamins A & C.


The LAPINS tree was developed in the late 1930’s by noted horticulturist Dr. Karl Lapin from British Colombia.

The tree has a spreading canopy of smooth, dark, lustrous green leaves during the summer months.  In the fall they turn into beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow.  They grow anywhere from 12-18 feet tall and 12-15 feet wide at maturity.

This is a self-fertile fruit tree that boasts an abundance of pinkish-white flower clusters along its branches during mid spring. Early to mid summer the flowers are followed by a heavy crop of large, high quality, lush, plump, slight heart-shaped dark red cherries.


The “Black Mulberry” tree is thought to originate in the mountainous areas of Mesopotamia and Persia. 

This tree can reach up to 40 feet tall at full maturity.  It has light to dark green leaves with small, inconspicuous flowers.  The mulberry fruit is an aggregation of small fruits arranged concentrically around a central axis.

They are harvested from April to May in Florida and year-round for ever-bearing varieties. 

Mulberries contain high amounts of phytochemicals (anti-inflammatory, fighting cancer, aging, neurological diseases, diabetes and bacterial infections.  They also contain resveratrol (antioxidant) which protects the vascular system.  Excellent source of Vitamin B-complex, C, A, E, K and Iron (very rare among berries) along with minerals.

Brown Turkey Fig

It is native to the Middle East and western Asia and has been sought out and cultivated since ancient times.  It is now widely grown throughout the world for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.

It can be either a low, bushy plant or a medium sized tree, self-pollinating, that is ever-bearing in South Florida. If you’re starting with a young tree it can take up to two years before bearing any fruit, so be patient.

Large palmate leaves up to 10 inches long provide a tropical look to the landscape.  It can grow up to 20 feet in both height and width - so it needs plenty of space.

In the summer it bears a medium to large sized, bell shaped, purplish brown fig with a small eye.  It’s pink-amber flesh is very sweet and tender. A secondary crop can be expected in the fall months.

The fig can be eaten fresh and is also wonderful for cooking, canning, drying, jams, jellies and preserves.

©2020 by Village Institute for Sustainable Technologies and Agriculture