Choosing Wind Resistant Trees For North Florida

Lose a tree or two from storms? Check out this list of trees that withstand wind the best.

University of Florida/IFAS Extension Director for Nassau County, Rebecca Jordi, answers questions about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida.


QUESTION:  Can you give me a list of trees which fair better in storms?  BR

JORDI:  First, the faster growing trees often have the weakest limb attachments which is the reason so many people choose live oaks.  I am going to provide you with a list of trees for this area which start with the highest wind resistance going down to lowest.  I would choose those in the high to medium category and totally avoid the low resistance.

I would not recommend a water or laurel oak as replacements.  It is also significant to provide sufficient root areas for these trees – some prefer as much as 200 square feet of root space (live oaks). Often, we make the mistake of not providing tree roots enough non-competing room.

In addition, just a few more best management practices:

  • It is a poor practice to plant lawn grass on top of tree roots, keep grass as far away from trees as possible.  A significant number of uprooted trees during Matthew and Irma, (aside from those in a tornado) had grass planted up to the trunk.
  • Never allow mulch to touch the trunk of any tree or shrub.
  • Keep woody ornamental plants a significant distance from the trunk, consider the mature width of the shrub and tree.
  • The older the tree the less it likes areas around the roots to be disturbed.
  • Over pruning to “raise the canopy” for lawn grass (really?!), topping, lion’s tailing, leaving stubs after pruning are all terrible practices. These practices make the tree susceptible to limb breakage.
Southern Magnolia, A High Wind Resistant Tree
Southern Magnolia, A High Wind Resistant Tree
Highest Wind Resistance For North Florida:

Carya floridana, Florida scrub hickory; Conocarpus erectus, buttonwood; Ilex cassine, dahoon holly; Lagerstroemia indica, crape myrtle; Magnolia grandiflora, southern magnolia; Podocarpus spp, podocarpus; Quercus virginiana, live oak; Quercus geminata, sand live oak; Taxodium ascendens, pondcypress; Taxodium distichum, baldcypress; Butia capitata, pindo or jelly; Livistona chinensis, Chinese fan; Phoenix canariensis, Canary Island date; Phoenix dactylifera, date; and Sabal palmetto, cabbage, sabal.

Medium To High:

Acer palmatum, Japanese maple; Betula nigra, river birch; Carpinus caroliniana, ironwood; Carya glabra, pignut hickory; Carya tomentosa, mockemut hickory; Cercis canadensis, red bud; Chionanthus virginicus, fringe tree; Diospyros virginiana, common persimmon; Fraxinus americana, white ash; Liquidambar styraciflua, sweetgum; Magnolia virginiana, sweetbay magnolia; Magnolia x soulangiana, saucer magnolia; Ostrya virginiana, American hophombeam; Prunus angustifolia, chickasaw plum; Quercus michauxii, swamp chestnut; Quercus shumardii, Shumard oak; Quercus stellata, post oak; Ulmus alata, winged elm.?

QUESTION: How do we protect our bee hives when they do aerial chemical sprays for mosquitoes?  SD

JORDI:  I contacted the University of Florida specialists on this topic to ensure I had the latest data. “In Florida, both mosquito control and the protection of environmentally sensitive habitats are legislatively mandated. Clearly, modern mosquito control poses some environmental risks, yet it just as obviously provides benefits. Public health protection, improved human comfort from mosquito annoyance, and economic payback are the most obvious benefits. Impacts on fish, wildlife, and non-target arthropods are some of the risks. There is also growing concern about the risks of human exposure to pesticides in general. These potential impacts to both natural communities and to humans need to be sufficiently understood to help risk/benefit analysis that can result in informed decision making”.

Integrated pest management is now required by law this means the pesticide companies must use a variety of methods to control mosquitoes. These methods include the traditional program of spraying chemicals to control adults but also new pesticides now manage larvae only without harming any of the other critical arthropods such as dragonflies and bees. These chemicals are generally added to bodies of still water. It is critical to educate the public on removing debris and empty containers which would hold water and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Combining all these methods and others are important. Just doing one of them is not sufficient to control the mosquitoes.

Protecting Bee Hives

The best method to protect your hives is to place a large piece of plywood on top of the hive.  This will keep most of the chemical from entering the hives.  Wash the board off after the spray has been applied.  Do this cleaning in an area where the bees will not likely visit for nectar feeding.  You could also cover the hive with a tarp or sheet but do not completely wrap the hive as temperatures inside the hive will become too hot and this will destroy the bees.

Rebecca Jordi

Rebecca L. Jordi
Nassau County Extension Director
UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture
543350 U.S. Highway #1
Callahan, FL 32011