Picture showing native canopy of slash pine trees​​​

NATIVE Canopy - ​​​Our Disappearing Treasure

Palm Beach County’s native canopy — the upper layer of branches and leaves on a tree — is becoming increasingly rare due to expanding development and the spread of invasive exotic plants.​​​​​​​
Group of people looking into native canopy of cypress trees​​

Preserving NATIVE Canopy Ben​e​fits Our Lives

  • Increases Property Values - Homes with mature landscapes often sell quicker and for more money.
  • Conserves Energy & Lowers Utility Costs - Mature trees provide shade and lower air temperatures inside and out. 
  • Minimizes Storm Damage - Neighborhoods with native canopy typically suffer less tree damage in storms than shallow-rooted exotics and act as windbreaks.
  • Improves Air Quality & Mitigates Climate Change - ​Groups of large, intact native trees sequester more carbon and produce more oxygen than recently planted saplings and grass.
  • ​Benefits Human Health - Spending time outside in nature leads to greater psychological well-being, better brain functioning, fewer physical ailments, and speedier recovery from illnesses.
Pine warbler bird in tree top

Preserving NATIVE Canopy Benefits Nature

  • Provides Habitat - Native birds, pollinators, and other wildlife can find their natural food sources and shelter year round.
  • Supports Seasonal Visitors - Migrating birds (swallow-tailed kites) and butterflies (monarchs) use the tree tops to rest and refuel.
  • Creates Safe Passages - Preserved native canopy offers connections to remaining fragments of natural areas for wildlife to travel.
  • Reduces flooding and erosion - Preserved native trees absorb rainfall and help keep water on site. 
  • Conserves water - Preserved native vegetation requires less supplemental irrigation reducing the demand on our water supply.
​​​Native butterfly garden plants

​​ How to Help NATIVE Canopy​​​​
  • Preserve Existing Native Canopy - If you have native trees and plants on your property, you are ahead of everyone else, leave them!
  • Protect Existing Native Canopy - Communicate during construction to ensure native vegetation is not disturbed or removed.
  • Restore Natural Habitat - Add groups of native vegetation in layers by planting trees, shrubs and groundcovers.
  • Remove Prohibited Plants - Nonnative and invasive exotic species can harm native vegetation. 
  • Connect Natural Habitats - Encourage your neighbors and community to retain or plant native vegetation on their properties or common areas and link the areas together for greater impact.​​
Where Do I Find NATIVE Canopy Plants?
Most nurseries sell some plants that are native to Florida. Check with local nurseries, or visit a nearby native nursery for a greater selection of hard-to-find species.
You can find a list of native nurseries at http://www.fann.org​ or scroll down to see a sampling.​​​​​
​​Slash pine
Pinus elliottii var. densa
Mature Slash pine tree​​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Evergreen conifer forms a rounded tops, has long, glossy green needles and is in decline from clearing and logging.
Mature Size:
40 feet tall and higher and half as wide  
Canopy Layer:
Upper level​​
Chrysobalanus icaco
Close up of cocoplum leaves and fruits​​​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Native shrub - small tree with small white flowers that give rise to fruits.  Two varieties: red-tipped (taller) and horizontal (shorter).
Mature Size:​
20 feet tall and wide
Canopy Layer:
​​Sabal (Cabbage) palm
Sabal palmetto
Cluster of cabbage palm trees​​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Florida state tree has erect or slightly-curved trunks that are either smooth or covered with persistent​ leaf bases known as "boots".
Mature Size:
40 - 50 feet plus tall and half the width  
Canopy Layer:
Upper level
​​Dahoon holly​
Ilex cassine
Close up of Dahoon leaves and berries​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Single-stemmed medium-sized tree.  Female trees have brilliant red berries that provide an excellent food source for wildlife​.
Mature Size:
Less than 40 feet tall, and half as wide  
Canopy Layer:
Upper level​​
​​Wild coffee
Psychotria nervosa
Close up image of wild coffee leaves and berries​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Evergreen shrub with shiny, dark green, deeply-impressed leaves.  White flowers in spring and summer turn into small red fruits.
Mature Size:
4 feet - 10 feet tall with sim​liar spread  
Canopy Layer:
​​Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum
Cluster of bald cypress trees in wetland swamp​​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Deciduous conifer grows in wet areas, forming "knees" with feathery green foliage that darkens and turns orange before dropping in fall.
Mature Size:
80 feet tall and higher and less wide  
Canopy Layer:
Upper level
​​Southern live oak
Quercus virginiana
Sprawling live oak tree with spanish moss​​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Large spreading native evergreen requires space for it's roots when newly planted and frequent pruning for structure and longevity.
Mature Size:
Up to 80 feet tall with a much wider spread  
Canopy Layer:
Upper level
Callicarpa americana
Close up of the berries on beautyberry​​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Fast-growing shrub has fragrant, textured leaves, small pink flowers that give rise to magenta fruits that encircle the plant's stem.
Mature Size:
3 - 8 feet tall and wide  
Canopy Layer:
​​Saw palmetto
Serenoa repens
Close up of saw palmetto frond​​​​
Id​entifying Characteristics:
Sprawling native palm requires little maintenance and comes in two forms:  green or silver fan-shaped fronds.
Mature Size:
5 feet - 10 feet tall and wide  
Canopy Layer: