Native Plants for Backyard Florida Habitats

This table lists 55 trees, 28 shrubs and small trees, and seven vines with excellent wildlife value for home landscapes. All are native to Florida. You can identify potential plants for your landscape by checking their preferred temperature zones and soil types. The climate map will help you determine whether you live in north (N), central (C), south (S) or semitropical (SS) Florida. Soil types are broadly classified as wet, poorly drained (W); garden soils with average moisture, i.e., pine flatwoods, mulched urban fill soils (A); and very dry or xeric soils that are rarely or never flooded, usually in full sun situations (D).

The table also tells you whether the plant is evergreen (E) or deciduous (D- seasonally drops and regrows its leaves) and when it fruits: summer (S), fall (F), winter (W) or spring (Sp). Season of flowering is marked with an asterisk if important to wildlife. Both common and scientific names are provided to help you purchase exactly what you want from a plant nursery. Use references in our For Further Information to learn more about individual plant species.



Shrubs and Small Trees



Zone Evergreen or Deciduous Season of Fruiting Soil Value to Wildlife
American Beech
(Flagus grandifolia)
N D F A Nuts eaten by game birds, mammals, woodpeckers, blue jays, titmice, nuthatches, grackles, cardinals, towhees.
(Conocarpus erectus)
C (Barrier islands), S, SS E Sp-W W-A Excellent cover and nesting plant; can be trimmed into hedge; salt tolerant, wind resistant and tolerates wet areas.
Cedar, Southern Red
(Juniperus silicicola)
All E All Good cover and nesting plant; blue fruit attracts tree swallows, cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, yellow-rumped warblers, bluebirds, flickers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, opossums, armadillos.  Only female trees bear fruit. Don't plant if you grow apples; this tree is alternate host for apple rust.
Cherry, Black
(Prunus serotina)
N, C D S A-D Very important summer food plant; fruit eaten by many birds species and gray squirrels; tent caterpillars which infest tree in spring, eaten by yellow-billed cuckoos.
(Prunus caroliniana)
N,C,S E W A-D Many bird species feed on this dark fruit at a time when little else is available; can be used as an informal privacy hedge.
Coffee Colubrina
(Colubrina arborescens)
SS E F-Sp* A Fragrant green flowers in fall attract abundant insects, honeybees, wasps, butterflies, diurnal moths, which in turn attract warblers, gnatcatchers, kingbirds, vireos and flycatchers.
Crabapple, Southern
(Malus angusifolia)
N D S A Fruit eaten by mockingbirds and other bird species.
Cypress, Bald
(Taxodium distichum)
Cypress, Pond
(T. ascendens)
ALL D F-W W-A Seed cones used by gray squirrels, ducks, sandhill cranes, other; long-lived pest-free tree.
Dogwood, Flowering
(Cornus florida)
N,C D F A Bright red fruit very attractive to many species of birds.
Elm, Winged
(Ulmus alata)
N,C D Sp W-A Early source of seeds for many songbirds, including finches, sparrows, grosbeaks; fox and gray squirrels and rabbits also utilize elm fruits.
Geiger Tree
(Cordia sebestena)
(FL Keys)
E F-Sp* A Bright orange flowers relished by hummingbirds; cold sensitive.
Gum, Black or Tupelo
(Nyssa sylvatica)
N,C,S D F W-A Blue fruit eaten by many birds, including woodpeckers, blue jays, bluebirds, cardinals, wood ducks and others; hollows in old trees used by birds and mammals; flowers important for bees.
(Bursear simaruba)
C (Barrier islands), S,SS D S A Cluster of red fruit eaten by mockingbirds and vireos; warblers and flycatchers often see in canopy.
Hackberry or Sugarberry
(Celtis laevigata)
All D S-F All Dark fruit eaten by many birds, including catbirds, mockingbirds, robins, thrashers, towhees, cedar waxwings, flickers; butterfly larvae.
(Crataegus spp.)
N,C D Sp-S A Red or yellow fruit eaten by birds and mammals, including foxes, otters, rabbits; provides good cover and nesting sites; thorny.
(Carya spp.)
N,C,S D F A Nuts eaten by squirrels, wood ducks, blue jays, woodpeckers and crows.

(Ilex spp.)

(I. opaca)
N,C E F-W A Female plants bear red fruit that persists into the winter; eaten by many species of birds; good cover; yaupon holly is salt tolerant; summer plants important source of pollen for bees.
(I. Vomitoria)
N,C,S All
(I. Cassine)
Hornbeam, American
(Carpinus caroliniana)
N,C D S-F W-A Nuts eaten by squirrels and some birds.
(Nectandra coriacea)
S,SS E F A Deep purple fruit especially attractive to wood thrushes and veeries.
Magnolia, Southern
(Magnolia grandiflora)
N,C, S E F A Good cover for songbirds; red fruit eaten by woodpeckers, red-eyed vireos and others.
Magnolia, Sweetbay
(M. Virginiana)


Maple, Red
(Acer rubrum)
Maple, Florida Sugar
(A. barbatum)
All D S A Winged seeds eaten by some birds and mammals
(Mastichodendron foetidissimum)
S,SS E Sp-W A Yellow fleshy fruit eaten by birds, raccoons, opossums; known as "jungle plum."
Mulberry, Red
(Morus rubra)
All D Sp W-A Usually only female plants bear fruit; abundant berries attract woodpeckers (including pileated), kingbirds, great crested flycatchers, blue jays, crows, titmice, mockingbirds, thrashers, grackles, summer tanagers, cedar waxwings, opossums, raccons, squirrels.

(Quercus spp.)

Live Oak
(Q virginiana)
All E F-W A-D Acorns are a primary wildlife food source and have high energy value; eaten by game birds, woodpeckers (Especially red-headed), blue jays, raccoons, quail, gray squirrels, flying squirrels, bears; provides good cover and nesting sites, den trees and nesting materials, including lots of Spanish moss; many warbler species may be found in live oaks feeds on insects; live oak is salt tolerant.
White Oak
(Q. alba)
Basket Oak
(Q. michauxii)
Laurel Oak
(Q. laurifolia)
Myrtle Oak
(Q. myrtifolia)
Shumard Oak
(Q. shumardii)
Water Oak
(Q. nigra)
Palm, Cabbage or Sabal
(Sabal palmetto)
All E F
All Our state tree, white flowers attract honeybees and other insects; black fruit eaten by many birds, especially robins, grackles, mockingbirds, thrashers, red-bellied woodpeckers, catbirds, and raccoons; palm thatch used as nest building materials; frogs, lizards and insects live in crown where moisture collects; salt tolerant.
Palm, Florida Royal
(Roystonea elata)
S,SS E S A Abundant fruits used by many birds.
Palm, Silver
(Coccothrinax argentata)
S,SS E S A Large clusters of dark purple fruits eaten by many birds.
Palm, Thatch
(Thrinax radiata)
(T. morrissii)
SS E S A Copious white fruits used by songbirds.
Paradise Tree
(Simarouba glauca)
S,SS E Sp A Abundant purple fruits.
(Diospyros virginiana)
All D F All Female plants bear fleshy fruit in the fall and often persist into winter; important food for raccoons, opossums, foxes, skunks and many birds.
Pigeon Plum
(Coccoloba diversifolia)
S,SS E F-W A Female trees bear dark purple fruit eaten by many birds and other wildlife; fruit is also sold in Bahamian markets; salt tolerant.

(Pinus ssp.)

Slash Pine
(P. elliottii)
All E F All Pine seeds are of major importance to wildlife, although the crop of seeds varies considerably from year to year; good cover; seeds eaten by chickadees, blue jays, nuthatches, pine siskins, quail, pine warblers and other birds, as well as fox squirrels and gray squirrels; old growth pines provide good nesting cavities; slash pine is salt tolerant.
Longleaf Pine
(P. palustris)
N,C,S All
Loblolly Pine
(P. taeda)
N,C All
Spruce Pine
(P. glabra)
Sand Pine
Sea Grape
(Coccoloba uvifera)
C (Barrier islands), S,SS E S-F
(All year, S)
A Good honey plant; fleshy fruit eaten by raccoons, turtles and various bird species; salt tolerant.
Short-Leaf Fig
(Ficus citrifolia)
S,SS E Sp-W A Attracts many fruit-eating and insect-eating birds; cedar waxwings often swarm on it.
(Eugenia spp.)
S,SS E S-F A Four species are excellent bird-attracting native landscape trees.
Strangler Fig
(Figus aurea)
C (Barier islands), S,SS E Sp-W All Attracts swarms of cedar waxwings and many other birds; invasive roots.
(Liquidambar styraciflua)
N,C,S D F-W W-A Seeds in "gum balls" eaten by goldfinches, siskins, wrens, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, quail and purple finches.
Wild Lime
(Zanthoxylum fagara)
C (Coast), S,SS E S A Excellent butterfly plant.
Wild Tamarind
(Lysiloma latisiliquum)
S,SS E to semi-D Sp-W
A Persistent flowers in April, followed by thin, flat, pea-like pods with black seeds; attracts warblers, gnatcatchers, redstarts, flycatchers.
Willow Bustic
(Dipholis salicifolia)
S,SS E S A-D Small black fruits used by many species; excellent pioneer tree for poor soils.

Shrubs and Small Trees

Zone Evergreen or Deciduous Season of Fruiting Soil Value to Wildlife
American Beautyberry
(Callicarpa americana)
All D F All Bright purple berries eaten by woodpeckers, mockingbirds, cardinals and other bird species.
Bird Pepper
(Capsicum annum)
S,C (Barrier) E (Annual) Sp-F A Bright red peppers highly favored by catbirds and mockingbirds.
(Rubus spp.)
N,C,S D S All Berries are one of the most valuable summer foods for wildlife, berries eaten by many birds species and raccoons, squirrels, box turtles; excellent cover for wildlife.
(Guapira discolor)
S,SS E S A Bright pink fruits prized by songbirds.
(Vaccinium spp.)
N,C,S D S All Blueberries are an important summer food source for wildlife; eaten by many bird and mammal species; good for hedgerows.
Buckeye, Red
(Aesculus pavia)
N,C D Sp*
A Red tubular flowers feed hummingbirds; nutlike fruit eaten by squirrels in fall.
Cactus, Prickly Pear
(Opuntia spp.)
All E S-F A-D Persistent fruit eaten by raccoons, gopher tortoises; Florida box turtles, eastern woodrats.
(Chrysobalanus icaco)
S,SS E S All Large fruits edible by humans and wildlife.
Coffee, Wild
(Psychotria nervosa)
C,S,SS E S A Fleshy red berries widely used by wildlife species.
Coral Bean
(Erythrina herbacea)
All D Sp*
All Red flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds.
(Sambucus canadensis)
All E S-F
(All year)
W-A Excellent summer source of food for wildlife; deep purple fruit eaten by many bird species.
(Hamelia patens)
S,SS E Sp-W* A Orange-red tubular flowers throughout year attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Florida Trema
(Trema micrantha)
S,SS E S A Large quantities of small fruits eaten by many birds.
Fringe Tree
(Chionanthus virginicus)
N,C D S-F W-A Fruits eaten by many birds and mammals.
(Ardisia escallonioides)
C (Coast), S,SS E Sp-W
A Purple fruit eaten by most fruit-eating birds.
(Myrsine floridana)
A-W Good food, cover and nesting sites for many birds; good hedge plant for barrier islands.
Necklace Pod
(Sophora tomentosa)
A Yellow, pea-like flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and attract insects, which in turn attract vireos and warblers.
Palmetto, Saw
(Serenoa repens)
All E Sp*
All Spring flowers provide nectar for honeybees; fruit eaten by several bird species and raccoons; excellent cover.
(Phytolacca americana)
All D S-F All A weed worth cultivating; dark purple fruit eaten by many songbirds, including bluebirds, cardinals, thrashers, thrushes, waxwings, raccoons, opossums and foxes. Pokeweed is extremely poisonous to humans.
Privet, Florida
(Forestiera segregata)
C,S,SS E Sp*
A Spring flowers attract insects during spring migration, and many warblers come to feast on the insects; small dark fruit on plants consumed by a number of species.
(Sassafras albidum)
N,C D S-F A Dark blue fruit eaten by kingbirds, crested flycatchers, phoebes, pileated woodpeckers, mockingbirds, thrashers, catbirds and flickers.
Seven-year Apple
(Casasia clusiifolia)
S (coastal), SS E S*
A Persistent fragrant white flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds.
(Calyptranthes pallens)
S,SS E F A Purple blueberry-like fruit are long-lasting and attract many species of birds.
Sumac, Winged
(Rhus copallina)
N,C,S D F-W All Fruit is not preferred but is consumed by songbirds in late winter when little else is available.
(Tetrazygia biocolor)
SS E S-F A Blueberry-sized fruit is favorite of mockingbirds, catbirds, thrushes and thrashers.
(Amyris elemifera)
C,SS E S A Valuable larval food plant for Schaus' swallowtail butterfly.
(Viburnum spp.)
N D F W-A Berries of native viburnums eaten by several bird species.
Wax Myrtle
(Myrica certifera)
All E F-W All Female plants produce small waxy berries; eaten by many species of birds, especially yellow-rumped warblers, white-eyed vireos, ruby-crowned kinglets and quail; flocks of tree swallows will often swarm to feed on berries; excellent hedge plant; salt tolerant.


Zone Evergreen or Deciduous Season of Fruiting Soil Value to Wildlife
Cross Vine
(Bignonia capreolata)
N,C Semi-E S
A Yellow-orange flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds.
Grape, Muscadine
(Vitis rotundifolia)
All D S All Tangles provide good cover; bark is used by some species for nesting; fruit eaten by variety of birds and skunks, foxes, raccoons, rabbits, opossums and squirrels.
(Smilax spp.)
All E,D F-W All Tangles provide good cover and nest sites; persistent fruit eaten by a number of songbirds and small mammals.
Honeysuckle, Coral
(Lonicera sempervirens)
Partially E
Sp-S* A Red-tubular flowers attract hummingbirds; the nonnative Japanese honeysuckle also attracts hummers but should not be encouraged due to its invasive quality.
Poison Ivy
(Toxicodendron radicans)
All D S-F All Though not recommended for planting, it's nice to recognize its value as wildlife food; berries are eaten by many species of birds.
Trumpet Vine
(Campsis radicans)
N,C,S D Sp-S* A Orange flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds
Virginia Creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
All D S-F All Small dark berries eaten by mockingbirds, robins, bluebirds, thrashers and others.

*Indicates season when flowers are present.

FWC Facts:
Agility, speed, power. These are fitting words describing the flight of the peregrine falcon, the world's fastest bird.

Learn More at AskFWC