The Florida state tree is the Sabal Palm, also called the Cabbage Palm. The palm has a single trunk and can grow as tall as 70 feet.
But state symbols should capture the essence of the state and for this reason the Sabal Palm is a poor choice—its characteristics do not symbolize much about what makes Florida so unique.
However, there is one tree that towers above all the others because it more accurately represents Florida—the Australian Pine.
Although the Australian Pine (Casuarina equisetifolia) is on Florida’s invasive specifies list, I believe it should be removed from that list and proudly declared the “Florida State Tree.” There are at least five reasons the Sabal Palm should be replaced by the Australian Pine.
First, the Australian Pine is an invasive species; introduced into Florida in the 1890s it has proliferated. This, by itself, makes it a strong candidate for state tree.
Like the magnificent tree, people from other states, who originate primarily from New York, New Jersey, and the Midwest, have become Florida’s invasive species to the tune of over 200,000 per year. Like the tree, they have proliferated, spending their Social Security checks on a variety of goods and services.
Second, the tree thrives around beaches. While it cannot grow directly in salt water it grows quite well near the water. This, of course, is also true of the human population of the state where over 76% of the residents of Florida live on or near the beach. Like the Australian Pine, Floridians cannot live in the water, but most thrive close to either the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading “Salt and Snark: My Nomination for Florida’s State Tree-an invasive species (by Jack)”