Trees & Shrubs FAQs - Trees, general

1. Are any of South Florida's exotic trees dangerous to use as fireplace logs or barbecue wood?

Identify before you burn!  Burning Sapodilla is a bad idea.  The bark and seeds contain saponic glycoside.  If allergic, you can get very sick by breathing the smoke.  Schefflera has oxalates which can cause numbness or vomiting.  Palm is a porous wood that doesn't burn well.  Don't burn Brazilian pepper, as it can give you facial inflammation and dermatitis.

The most common woods to burn are Australian pine, Southern pine, and Oak.  You can also burn Avocado and citrus woods.

Do not use for burning: Brazilian pepper, Poisonwood, Melaleuca, Sapodilla, Schefflera, and Oleander.

2. The leaves on my citrus trees are curling up, and they look chewed on.  What can I do?
Applying botanical insecticides, horticultural oils, and insecticidal soaps to your plants can deter hungry insects. For more detailed information, read the articles Insect Management in the Home Garden
and Natural Products for Insect Pest Management.
If you need help choosing the right treatment for your plants or locating the recommended products, contact your County Extension Office.

3. My tree is covered with these small gray plants that seem to be killing it. What can I do?
Those gray plants are commonly known as air plants or bromeliads and are generally harmless to trees. These unique plants are "epiphytes" which means they gather moisture and nutrients from the air instead of the soil. They simply need the trees for support, much like the way birds use trees as a place to build their nests.
Over a dozen species of air plants are native to Florida, and many, including the well-known Spanish moss, fall under the scientific genus Tillandsia. You can view photos of native air plants at the Bromeliad Biota Website.
Although air plants look gray, they still contain chlorophyll and photosynthesize like other plants. The gray color comes from fine scales that cover the plantís thin leaves and help it to trap moisture. When wet, the plantís green color shows through the scales.
Again, air plants are typically harmless and cause problems only when present in great numbers, which in rare cases may lead to limb breakage. If your tree looks sick, ask your County Extension Office for help.