Slow Growing Trees Stand a Better Chance Against Hurricanes

The hurricanes of the past few years have taught us a lot about what trees will and will-not stand-up to hurricane force winds. Below is list of trees suggested for planting in hurricane susceptible areas and those recommended to be removed before the next category storm crosses the state. This list is not exhaustive and is culled from various lists of recommended storm resistant trees for Florida and the south as well as personal observation. Certain wind, placement, soil and pruning factors must be taken into account in cases where this list conflicts with other published lists and personal observation.

Native trees, particularly those with wide spreading branches, low centers of gravity, strong deep penetrating root systems, and small leaf size seem to hold up better in tropical storms especially if they are found growing in mixed groves of trees. Lone growing solitary specimens have less wind resistance than massed trees.

To prepare your trees for a category storm remove weak and diseased trees as well as any large trees within one hundred feet of your home or car. Prune and thin trees to give them a lower center of gravity and to lessen leaf mass. Sculpting a tree will allow wind resistance to increase. Lightly fertilize annually and be sure that all trees are growing where their root zones are covered with good healthy soil. Watering during drought periods will allow the roots of the plants to maintain their turgor and their holding power. Plant trees in groves and add ample shrub mass to deflect wind upwards. This places what is called the “point of overturning pressure” farther from the root zone into the area of the tree with more flexibility. Remove non-native over story vegetation, keeping in mind that canopy trees in any community are composed of native trees that have withstood coastal storms in the past and will do so in the future.

Recommended TreesRational Trees Not RecommendedRational
Foxtail PalmWind ResistanceQueen PalmBlows Over — shallow roots
Solitaire PalmWind ResistanceScheffleraBrittle Wood
Cabbage (Sable) PalmWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingLaurel OakBrittle Wood
Gumbo LimboWind ResistanceWater OakBrittle Wood
Paurotis PalmTolerates FloodingChinese ElmBrittle Wood
Coconut PalmWind Resistance (remove coconuts)/Tolerates FloodingCamphor TreeBrittle Wood
Pitch AppleWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingGolden Rain TreeBrittle Wood
DahoonWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingSilk Floss TreeBrittle Wood
Yaupon HollyWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingEar Leaf AcaciaBrittle Wood
Screw PineWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingTabebuia (yellow or pink)Brittle Wood/Blows Over — shallow roots
Paradise TreeWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingNorfolk PineBrittle Wood/Blows Over — shallow roots
TibouchinaWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingEucalyptusBrittle Wood
CassiaWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingSilk OakBrittle Wood
Geiger TreeWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingSea HibiscusBrittle Wood
BottlebrushWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingAvocadoBrittle Wood
Mexican PoincianaWind ResistanceChinaberryBrittle Wood
Live OakIf given room for roots to grow, Do not plant in moist soilsSeaside MahoeBlows Over — shallow roots
Sand OakWind ResistanceBanyan/FicusBlows Over — shallow roots
Myrtle and Turkey OakWind ResistanceAustralian PineBlows Over — shallow roots
Red OakWind ResistanceCitrus TreesDamaged by standing water
Slash and Long Leaf PineWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingRoyal PoincianaBrittle Wood
Bald or Pine CypressWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingShooting Star (Clerodendron)Brittle Wood/Blows Over — shallow roots
Red and Silver MapleWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingCarrotwoodBrittle Wood
Crepe MyrtleWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingChinese Tallow (Popcorn) TreeBrittle Wood
Pigeon PlumWind ResistanceWashingtonia PalmBlows Over
FiddlewoodWind ResistanceMahoganyBrittle Wood
IronwoodWind ResistanceBlack OliveBrittle Wood/Blows Over — shallow roots
Sea GrapeWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingLive Oak**Blows Over if not given adequate room to spread and if planted in moist soils
Weeping PodocarpusWind ResistanceSand PinePoor Wind Resistance
Winged ElmWind ResistanceSweetgumPoor Wind Resistance
MagnoliaWind Resistance/Tolerates FloodingCarolina laurelcherryPoor Wind Resistance
Tulip TreeWind ResistanceHong Kong Orchid TreePoor Wind Resistance/Brittle Wood
American HollyWind Resistance  
SycamoreWind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding  
ButtonwoodWind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding  
Red CedarWind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding  
Royal PalmWind Resistance/Tolerates Flooding