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Leaf & Tree Identification for Florida Trees

Leaf & Tree Identification for Florida Trees

Leaf & Tree Identification for Florida Trees. Florida is a diverse ecological matrix. It encompasses trees from the temperate zones of North America to tropical species of the Caribbean and Central America. Paying attention to leaf characteristics is one of the best methods of identifying the state's trees, from sugar maples to red mangroves.

Florida is a diverse ecological matrix. It encompasses trees from the temperate zones of North America to tropical species of the Caribbean and Central America. Paying attention to leaf characteristics is one of the best methods of identifying the state's trees, from sugar maples to red mangroves.
Leaf Shape
Leaf shape can help you broadly classify a tree -- sometimes all the way to species. One of Florida's pines distinguishes itself by its long needles; a palm shows large fronds. A water oak in a bottomland wood has a duckfoot-shaped leaf; an American basswood in northern or central Florida has a heart-shaped one.
Leaf Edge
Looking at the leaf edges is another diagnostic tool. Some, like the basswood's, will be serrated, while others, like those of the flowering dogwood of northern Florida or the nearly statewide sweetbay, will be relatively smooth.
Pine Needles
Count the number of needles in a pine and estimate their length. Loblolly and slash pines look quite similar, but the former, found in the northern part of the state, usually has three to a bundle, while the latter, found across much of Florida, usually has two. Both have much longer needles than those of the appropriately named shortleaf pine of northern Florida.
Evergreen vs. Deciduous
Many Florida trees, such as royal palms, mahoganies and pines, are evergreen -- they keep their leaves throughout the year. Others, such as maples and sassafras, are deciduous, dropping them for the winter or dry season.

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