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Storm Ready Trees

Theresa Badurek, Urban Horticulture Agent, UF/IFAS Extension


Avoid this! Photo: UF/IFAS

Are you looking for a new tree for your landscape? Have you thought about the wind resistance of your trees in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm? Even strong afternoon thunderstorms in our area can cause a lot of damage to trees and property. A tree is (hopefully) a long-term investment, with many returns like shade, energy conservation, and good-ole oxygen. But how do you know which tree will weather the storm better? Below is a list of potential tree choices for Pinellas County categorized by wind resistance. Click on the name of each tree to link to a fact sheet about that plant so you can learn more about it and decide if it is a tree for you. I have also indicated if their grow rate is slow, moderate, or fast. Please note the cold hardiness of each tree as some will survive in south Pinellas County but not in the north. The very northern part of Pinellas (like Tarpon and Palm Harbor) is zone 9b, while the rest is zone 10a. Most trees that grow quickly have less wind resistance, so that will be a limiting factor in choosing a tree for wind resistance. But your patience will pay off with a tree that can shade you through many stormy summers.


Southern Magnolia, Photo: Chris Evans, River to River CWMA,

Highest wind resistance:   Ilex cassine, dahoon holly (moderate growth rate) Lagerstroemia indica, crape myrtle (moderate growth rate, flowering) Magnolia grandiflora, southern magnolia (moderate growth rate, flowering) Podocarpus spp., podocarpus (slow growth rate) Quercus virginiana, live oak (moderate growth rate)


Sweetgum, Photo: (cc) 2007, Ikmo-ned. This photo is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Medium-High wind resistance:   Liquidambar styraciflua, sweetgum (moderate growth rate, deciduous) Magnolia virginiana, sweetbay magnolia (moderate growth rate, flowering) Litchi chinensis, lychee  (moderate growth rate, fruit tree)


Loquat, Photo: UF/IFAS

Medium-Low wind resistance:   Acer rubrum, red maple (fast growth rate, deciduous) Callistemon spp., bottlebrush (moderate growth rate, flowering) Eriobotrya japonica, loquat (moderate growth rate, fruit tree) Myrica cerifera, wax myrtle (fast growth rate) Tabebuia heterophylla, pink trumpet tree (moderate growth rate, flowering) Averrhoa carambola, star-fruit, carambola (fast growth rate, fruit tree) Mangifera indica, mango (fast growth rate, fruit tree)   How do you plant and care for a new tree? Click here for information on planting and establishing new trees in the landscape.  Where did this wind-resistance info come from? Click here for wind resistance information from Selecting Tropical and Subtropical Tree Species for Wind Resistance.  How can I improve the wind resistance of new and existing trees? Click here for information on proper tree pruning. Good pruning promotes good structure and will help your tree handle heavy winds.