Conservation Horticulture Fellow Project – Ashley Dominguez

PROJECT OBJECTIVE: Establish a community outreach initiative through Montgomery Botanical Center’s collaboration with Village of Palmetto Bay’s Park and Rec. Dept., by establishing a tagging system for multiple species of Flora (i.e. palms and trees) found throughout Coral Reef Park (7895 SW 152nd Street, Palmetto Bay, FL). This will provide park visitors and Palmetto Bay residents with educational information regarding the different species of trees found at the Park.



Palmetto Bay Historic Tree Inventory GIS Map

Coral Reef Park Website Link

Species: Virginia Oak, Gumbo Limbo, Arjun Tree, Strangler Fig, Coconut Palm, Sausage Tree, Royal Poinciana, Peregrina, Tree of Life, Foxtail Palm, Rainbow Eucalyptus, Java Bishop Wood, and Pine Rockland species.


Virginia Oak (Quercus virginiana)

Native to South Florida

The bark is astringent. A decoction has been used in the treatment of dysentery. A decoction of the wood chips or the bark has been applied externally as an astringent analgesic to treat aches and pains, sores and hemorrhoids. Any galls produced on the tree are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of hemorrhages, chronic diarrhea, dysentery.



Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simaruba)

Native to South Florida

It develops unusual red bark that peels back – reminiscent of sunburned skin – which gives gumbo limbo the nickname of “Tourist Tree.”

The wood is lightweight, soft and easily-carved. But in spite of these characteristics  of the wood, a gumbo limbo is considered one of the most wind-tolerant trees and can withstand hurricane winds, making it very popular throughout South Florida.



Arjun Tree (Terminalia arjuna)

Not Native to S.FL

A widely grown tree in India. It has various medicinal properties like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Arjuna helps reduce the risk of heart diseases. It strengthens and tones the heart muscles and helps in proper functioning of the heart. 






Strangler Fig Tree (Ficus aurea)

Native to S.FL

This tree wraps around and grows up a host tree, eventually engulfing and killing the host. There are at least 10 species of Ficus in the state, only two of which are native. Ficus aurea is frequently found growing in the hammocks and borders of mangrove swamps in the central and southern peninsula of Florida. They bloom from spring to summer (Wunderlin, 2003). The strangler tree only occurs in FL (Kartesz, 1999).

The growth process of strangler figs can be murderous, leading to the death of its host, and earning it the Spanish nickname, ‘matapalo’ (tree-killer). The roots constrict the trunk of the host tree and surround the host tree roots, cutting off the nutrient and water supply

The fruit of Ficus aurea is edible and was used for food by the Native Americans and early settlers in Florida; it is still eaten occasionally as a backyard source of native fruit. The latex was used to make a chewing gum, and aerial roots may have been used to make lashings, arrows, bowstrings and fishing lines.


Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)

Not Native to S.FL

A tall tree that is native to tropical islands in the western Pacific.

*The two palm trees endemic to Florida are the Miami Palm and the Scrub Palmetto. The Miami Palm is also known as Sabal miamiensis. It’s believed to already be extinct in nature. The Scrub Palmetto is known as Sabal etonia.

Coconut palm, (Cocos nucifera), palm of the family Arecaceae, cultivated extensively in tropical areas for its edible fruit, the coconut. Coconut palms are found in tropical coastal areas nearly worldwide and probably originated somewhere in Indo-Malaya. They are the most economically important palm species, coconuts being one of the predominant crops of the tropics.

The coconut palm rises to a height of up to 25 metres (80 feet) from a swollen base and is surmounted by a graceful crown of giant featherlike leaves.

Coconut fruits float readily and have been dispersed widely by ocean currents and by humans throughout the tropics.

Indonesians claim that coconuts have as many uses as there are days in a year.

Coconut flesh is high in fat and can be dried or eaten fresh. The liquid of the green nut, commonly known as coconut water, can be consumed fresh and is used in beverages. The harvested coconut also yields copra, the dried extracted kernel, or meat, from which coconut oil, a major vegetable oil, is expressed. The Philippines, India, and Indonesia are major copra producers, and throughout the South Pacific copra is one of the most important export products. The meat may also be grated and usually mixed with water to make coconut milk, used in cooking and as a substitute for cow’s milk. The dry husk yields coir, a fiber highly resistant to salt water and used in the manufacture of ropes, mats, baskets, brushes, and brooms.


Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) 

Not Native to S.FL

Native to Africa. Some wildlife eat the fruits, but unripe fruit is poisonous, especially to humans. To make them edible, people bake them and slice them to eat the cooked pulp. The seeds are roasted as well, and can be a nutritional resource, since they are energy rich and contain essential fatty acids.

here are many anecdotal uses of the sausage tree. The powdered mature fruit is applied as a dressing in the treatment of wounds, abscesses, and ulcers. The green fruit is used as a poultice for syphilis and rheumatism, and a poultice made from leaves is used as a treatment for backache.

Making Music

Sausage tree wood is used to make an African xylophone instrument.

After Dark

The sausage tree flowers bloom mainly at night, to attract night-flying bats as pollinators.

Skin Cream

Tonga women of the Zambezi valley use treatments of dried sausage tree fruit as a facial cosmetic to keep skin smooth.

Light a Fire

Dried whole sausage tree fruits can be used as firewood in a pinch—they burn well because of the oil content in the seeds.


Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia)

Not Native to S.FL

Native to Madagascar

Root, flower and bark is used for treating parasitic infections and pulmonary problems.

Leaves juice is used to cure fever and flower juice is used for curing sores and seeds help to cure chest pain, breathing difficulty.

In Papua New Guinea, leaves provide relief from constipation.

Pounded roots are used for convulsions in Indonesia and bark is used for treating diarrhea.

Flower decoction is used for chronic catarrh and coughs.

The infusion may be used as a mouthwash for gums and teeth.

The infusion provides relief from constipation and is also used to treat kidney stones.

Root decoction is used for treatment of cholera.

An infusion prepared from leaves is used to prevent malaria and promote menstrual flow.

Gargle with the tea to treat sores in the mouth and throat.

Use the liquid extract from flowers topically as eyewash.


Peregrina (Spicy Jatropha)

Native to Cuba and Hispaniola

Poisonous if eaten.







Tree of Life (Lignum vitae

Native to South Florida and the Caribbean

Known for its extremely dense wood. Has a variety of medicinal uses. Extract is used for cough, arthritis, and circulation.







Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcata)










Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta)

Native to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. It is the only Eucalyptus species that usually lives in rainforest. commonly grown in plantations to be a source of pulpwood, which is used to make paper in some countries, and they are also used as a hardwood timber for furniture and other purposes. The tree can be huge and grows up to 250 feet tall in its native environment. The leaves of the tree are steam distilled to extract the oil which has been traditionally used for oral hygiene, respiratory illnesses, coughs, colds, bronchitis, fungal infections, and skin wounds. The bark of a rainbow eucalyptus will shed at different rates throughout the year, generally in strips that reveal a green trunk that changes color the longer it is exposed, causing the tree trunk to become beautifully multicolored, with colors of brown, green, maroon, blue, orange and purple.,for%20furniture%20and%20other%20purposes.


Java Bishop Wood Tree (Bischofia javanica)

Native to India and Pacific Islands

Landscape and Timber tree







Coral Reef Park Pine Rockland Nature Trail Entrance


Sabal Palm 

Gumbo Limbo


 Slash Pine


PoisonWood leaves


Poison Wood Bark


What is a Pine Rockland? 

The Pine Rocklands are made up of fossilized limestone, which is a very hardy rock found throughout S.FL and the Caribbean Islands.  The pinelands are an open pine canopy, unlike the Hardwood Hammock (also found in Florida), which have more dense foliage. 


What’s in it?

Saw Palmetto– a palm that covers most of the ground space of the Pinelands. along its leaves and stalk it has small spikes which can cut you if you get too close.  The most noticeable thing about this palm is that it has a similar shape to hands, which can help tell it apart from other palm species.  

Sabal palm state tree of Florida; Native Americans used the heart of the palm as a source of food.

Slash Pine Only canopy tree usually seen in Pine Rockland habitats. 

PoisonWood– Produces a toxin which can cause a rash or irritation to the skin if standing near/under it. Be extra careful of poison wood when it rains. 

Gumbo Limbo– A native of South Florida. It is also known as the “Tourist Tree” because of the red, flaky bark. 


Why Are They Important? 

Pine Rocklands are important ecosystems because they are home to many different species, including federally listed animals like the Florida Panther and the Bald Eagle. 


What do they need? 

Pine Rocklands need open space in order for the ecosystem to thrive. A dense canopy seen in the Hardwood Hammock would not be ideal for a Pine Rockland, so occasional fires carried out by professionals (i.e foresters/ecologists) known as prescribed burns are necessary for the overall health of the habitat. Apart from the known restoration method of prescribed burns, there are also naturally occurring fires in the wild. Native Americans were able to conduct “cultural burns” to promote the health of the Pine Rocklands.