Apalachicola River and in the northern portions of Holmes and Walton counties It

may be differentiated from the sugarberry by its distinctly ovate rather than lanceolate t leaves.

The berries of both (he sugarberry and the dwarf hackberry are especially important to wildlife. The fruits of both are small, fleshy, brightly colored, and ripen in the fall. A wide variety of birds as well as raccoons and squirrels use them to store up energy for the winter

Florida's two Trema species both inhabit the southern portions of the stare and arc part of a fairly small group of plants that are commonly referred to as nettle trees. The Florida trema (T, micrantha) is the more widespread of the two. It is found in disturbed places, waste areas, and at the edge of hammocks from about Collier and Broward counties southward and sporadically as far north as the Tampa area along the west coast, It is typically a spreading tree with a light brown trunk and long, slender, and horizontal or slightly drooping branches. The West Indian trema (7*. lamarckiana) is a more shrubby species and is less common than the Florida trema. Restricted to the Keys and the southernmost tip of lite peninsula, it also has much smaller leaves with upper surfaces that are rough to the touch.

The Mulberry Family

The Moraeeae, or mulberry family, is a primarily tropical and subtropical collection of about 1000 species in approximately 75 genera worldwide. Four genera are found in Florida. These include the mulberries (Moras and Broussonetia\ the figs (Ficus), and the osage-orange or hedge apple {Madura pomífera). All are characterized by variously tobed. alternate leaves and milky sap.

The mulberries are probably the best known of the North American Moraceae, The red mulberry (Morus rubra), in particular, enjoys a wide distribution. Extending from New England and the Great Lakes southward, it is found in all parts of Florida with the exception of the southernmost tip of the peninsula and the Keys, It is probably best known throughout its range for the purplish black berries that appear among its branches in early summer. In the North these fruits are a favored treat of children and animals alike and provide an important food source for a variety of songbirds and mammals. In Florida, however, the red mulberry is typically a small, often unnoticed, understorv tree of rich woodlands and bottomland forests*

The white mulberry {Af alba) is one of the red mulberry 's closest relatives. Unlike M. rubra. the white mulberry is an introduced species and was brought to the United States long ago in an attempt to establish a North American silk industry. Cultivated in China for thousands of years, the white mulberry is a host tree for the stlkmoth and its


voracious caterpillar, the silkworm. The worm is highly valued for its silky cocoon and for the fabric that its work helps produce.

The paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyri/era) is another of Florida's naturalized species and was originally imported to the United States from Asia in the mid-1700s, The tree's common name comes from its bark, which has been used in making paper as well as tapa, an unwoven cloth of the Pacific Islands produced by first steeping and then beating the tree s inner bark. The paper mulberry is fairly frequent in the northern part of the state, chiefly in disturbed areas and around human habitations.

i wo native and several nonnative figs of the genus Fie us inhabit the southern peninsula and the Honda Keys, The genus is comprised of about 800 species worldwide, all of which are native to the tropics and subtropics and are most abundant in Polynesia and Indonesia.

One of Florida's most interesting members of the genus is the si rangier fig (Ficus a urea). Like many of its relatives, the strangler often begins life as an epiphyte in the bark of another tree (though it also grows directly from the ground). As it grows, it sends down roots which eventually anchor the tree to the ground. Eventually, the expanding roots kill the host and become fused into a bi/arrely shaped trunk with massive aerial roots that leave the fig as a free-standing member of the forest community-

Finding specimens of the strangler tij: is not difficult. Its characteristic, latticelike roots are a common sight m many of south Florida's rockland hammocks and sw ampy wetlands. Several easy-to-see specimens are evident along the boardwalk in the Faka-hatchee Strand State Preserve, In addition to its interesting growth form, its stalk less, fleshy figs also offer a clue to the tree's identity.

The shortleaf lig (/■, citrifofia) is the other Florida native tig. Although similar in appearance to the strangler fig, its fruits are held at the end of relatively long stalks, unlike the sessile fruits of the strangler. In addition, (he shortleaf sometimes produces numerous hanging aerial roots that, when present, are unmistakable. However, the latter appendages are also well known from several of south Florida's nonnative figs and should not be used for identification of /-. ctirifntia. The shortleaf fig is not as common as the strangler but is usually found in similar habitats.

The common fig (F. carica) is an imported species that is grown commercially in Florida's southern counties. It sometimes persists along roadsides and in disturbed places, but is not widely distributed. This is the ancient fig mentioned often in the early chapters of The Bible. Its specific name refers to Caria, an ancient country in Asia Minor, a region of the world that is noted for its antiquity. Thought to be a native of this region, the common fig's fruits are seedless, very tasty, and probably served as a staple food for much of the ancient civilized world. Unlike the two native figs considered above, its leaves are large and deeply incised into 3 - 5 lobes, each lobe with its own central vein.

The osage-orange or hedge apple (Madura pomifera) is another of Florida's members of the mulberry family. Named for American geologist William Mac lure as well as for its orangelike pome, it is the only member of Us genus and has been widely used for a variety of purposes.

The osage-orange's original range is subject to a bit of controversy. Some maintain that its native habitat was initially a narrow zone of open land just west of the east Texas pine-hardwood forests. Others say it originated in the Red River Valley of Oklahoma and naturally extended into Arkansas and Mississippi, Whichever is Lhe case, today it enjoys a rather expansive geographical distribution across much of eastern North America.

Irs current range is not the result of natural phenomena. Long before barbed wire and fence posts separated mid western cattle territory or hemmed in eastern America's private lands, the osage-orange was touted as an outstanding hedgerow plant* hence the name hedge apple, A fast-growing and sun-tolerant tree, its tightly compact, orange-sized collection of fruits were highly valued for their seeds and were shipped widely for use in planting visible demarcations that helped to control the movement of cattle. Government agriculturists and foresters also encouraged the planting of osage-orange as a protection against the destructive forces ol the wind-induced erosion caused by the excessive droughts of the early 1900s, According to Loran Anderson, professor of botany at Florida Stale University* the fruit has also been used in Kansas basements as a "bug repellent" and would presumably work in Florida as a deterrent to cockroaches and spiders.


I lie families described in this chapter represent three orders of flowering plants that encompass a large number of widely divergent genera and species. Sonic taxonomists consider the three orders to be ai least somewhat related. Others see little relationship among them, Together, they include 15 tree species in Florida, most of which occur in the state's more tropical climes.

The Spurge Family

The Euphorbiaceae, or spurge family, is one of the world's largest and most diverse families of flowering plants. Like many primarily tropical families, the spurge family is best known to temperate plant lovers for its wide variety of herbaceous species. However, it also includes a number of trees and shrubs among its more than 300 genera and nearly 7000 species.

The spurge family takes its common name from the characteristic way in which a number of species distribute their seeds. The fruit of all members of the family is a distinctive three-lobed capsule. As the capsules dry and reach maturity they rupture, sometimes with a discernible popping sound, and hurl the enclosed seeds Lip to several yards. Leaving such capsules on an indoor table overnight sometimes results in the tiny seeds being scattered widely around the room by morning,

I he Euphorbiaceae are also known for an incredibly diverse number of celebrated products, many of which have significant economic value. Various members of the family are noted for such important organic compounds as tung and castor oil, rubber, resins, starch, tapioca, and tannins. The well-known and sought-after Christmas poin-settia is also a member of the spurge family.

There are more than 20 genera and 75 species of Euphorbiaceae represented in Florida. Although most of these are herbaceous or shrubby plants, eight species in seven genera reach tree stature; only five species in four genera are considered native.

The native species include the crab wood (Ateranmus lucid us), milkbark {Drypetes diversifolia), guiana plum (/J. lateriflora), mane hi nee I (Hippomane mancineltaK and maiden bush (Sav/a bahamensis). All are typically south Florida plants that are generally restricted to the southernmost peninsula and the Keys. While most are common and not particularly difficult to find in the appropriate habitat, at least one bears special mention.

The manehineel is now a rare tree in the wild. Once widespread and common in the coastal zone, its bright white sap, which is extremely toxic to the touch, formerly made it the target of human-engineered destruction that reduced its population dramatically, Even a tiny drop of the juicy fluid produces an intense burning sensation in some people and can result in blisterlike sores akin to those resulting from chemical burns, The foliage is also potentially toxic, and ingesting the reportedly pleasant-tasting fruit can

cause intense gastric upset. Some even assert that eating the fruit can he lethal. One such account holds that in the late 1800s, 54 German seaman who landed near Curasao ate the fruit of this tree, resulting in the death of five and severe sickness in the others. Although such claims have not always been clearly substantiated, the tree has been the target of much abuse throughout the tropics, including south Florida, and is now only sparsely scattered throughout the Keys as well as near Flamingo in Everglades National Park. Examples can be seen at John Pennekamp Coral Reef Stale Park. Bahia Honda Stale Recreation Area, and at several locations in Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, all of which are located in the Keys, it is quite attractive and is easily recognized by its alternate, generally ovate leaves with long petioles and finely serrate margins. It is probably wise to refrain from handling specimens of this plant.

In contrast to our native species, Florida's normative trees of the spurge family are known primarily from the northern part of the state ant! include the tung oil tree (Aleu-rues fordti)* popcorn tree (Sapium sebiferum), and manihot (Manihot graftamii). The tung tree is a cultivated species that was originally introduced from China, Today it has escaped and become established in a number of disturbed sites in northern Florida, particularly* but not solely, in Leon and Jefferson counties.

The popcorn or Chinese tallow- tree is the other commonly seen introduced member of the family. So named for its fruit, which ruptures and turns white as the leaves fall, it is an attractive and often-used yard and street tree. However, it escapes easily and may become a serious pest, [-ike many members of its family, the fruit and foliage of this tree are poisonous if ingested.

By contrast, the manihot is a rarely seen tree and is used primarily for decorative landscaping. Its unique leaves, which are deeply incised into 6 to 1 \ narrow lobes that all emanate from a central point, are very distinctive,

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Berry Boosters

Acai, Maqui And Many Other Popular Berries That Will Change Your Life And Health. Berries have been demonstrated to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Each month or so it seems fresh research is being brought out and new berries are being exposed and analyzed for their health giving attributes.

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