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palmsOrl

Climate of Extreme South Florida Truly Tropical?

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Tropicɑl desert

The bear and the lion would fight, which one would die? Welcome to Alice great wonderland. Shallow discussions.

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kingdom67

Due to the north air currents, Miami may rarely have freezing temperatures. These little details do not mean that Miami Nin is not in a tropical latitude. There are no mountains in the north(mountains, himalayas like). I'm talking about plains and plateaus, too much space. Maybe if it were mountains, the cold winds from distant parts of the country would not have affected Miami. In Miami, coconuts are not dying. These details are insignificant, already a very small difference. Coconuts living in Maldives and coconuts living in miami have the same qualities and qualities.

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mthteh1916

no, not at all. Miami has gone down to the upper 20'sF. Not tropical by a long shot.

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Fernandо

If there is some difference between Miami and the Mediterranean, then there is the same difference between maldives and miami, there is even a bigger difference. Make sure that the coconuts in the Maldives live for many years and ares delicious. Do not make amateurish comparisons.

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TexasColdHardyPalms
7 hours ago, mthteh1916 said:

no, not at all. Miami has gone down to the upper 20'sF. Not tropical by a long shot.

Its dropped to 29f in tampico mexico which 100% tropical and further south than Havana. As recently as 2011 it dropped to 32. 

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Xerarch
12 hours ago, TexasColdHardyPalms said:

Its dropped to 29f in tampico mexico which 100% tropical and further south than Havana. As recently as 2011 it dropped to 32. 

Interesting you mention tropical Tampico, not only is it further south than Miami and below the Tropic of Cancer, it’s January temperatures are actually a little cooler than Miami. Yet there is this fixation out there to try and disprove Miami’s tropicalness. 

I fail to understand all this debate, of course Miami has a tropical climate. That’s not to say that all tropical climates are created equal or that there aren’t tropical locations that are significantly warmer than Miami/south Florida. 

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Jimbean

I consider Miami and Tampico to be in the northern edges of the tropics.  Obviously this depends on how you definitions climate zones.

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bubba

All, 

Please remember these accounts and their pointless diatribe. An analog from Alice and Wonderland: Never argue with the Queen of Hearts. It is as pointless as arguing with a crazy person. “Off with their heads”.

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Dave-Vero

One of the problems of the Miami area is that even the Homestead agricultural area can get cold on nights with extremely dry and cool air, thanks to radiative cooling.  The immediate coast, with warm Gulf Stream water close by, is more protected, so the Keys and Atlantic shoreline harbor some native plants that won't make it just a bit inland.  There's a reason why Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has areas protected from cold by walls and such.  Quite a few genuinely tropical plants won't survive Miami's cold spells without protection.  

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displaced_floridian
On October 5, 2013 at 4:21:46 AM, kahili said:

Hawaii is cool sometimes-I have plenty of pictures of me wearing sweatshirts in the winter etc. But bear in mind that after living in a warm place like Hawaii, it will thin your blood out and the weather feels cooler than to someone who lives in a cooler climate. But there are definitely two seasons there. I don't think that there are really seasons in the tropics, but I have never lived there so don't know for sure. It also doesn't get the higher temps of inland southeastern US in the summer-but its also overall warmer in the winter. The key part to remember is that the tropics never, never , never get frosts/freezes/snow. Thats one big factor that takes a lot of warm places out of the equation -like Miami

To further complicate things, on clear calm nights you can have frost even though the temp stays above 40*. That might rule out Havana

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Yunder Wækraus
On 3/27/2018, 5:10:38, displaced_floridian said:

To further complicate things, on clear calm nights you can have frost even though the temp stays above 40*. That might rule out Havana

FUI: frost occurs even here deep into the Australian tropics of far North Queensland. 

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palmsOrl
On 3/13/2018, 2:11:00, mthteh1916 said:

no, not at all. Miami has gone down to the upper 20'sF. Not tropical by a long shot.

Miami is tropical by average temperatures.  Many tropical locations on the very northernmost edge of the tropics on large continents have recorded freezing temperatures before.  Like Tampico, Mexico and parts of China.

So, Miami is not as tropical as it gets, but it barely eeks by as having a tropical climate based on its average temperatutes.

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palmsOrl
On 3/19/2018, 10:15:19, Dave-Vero said:

One of the problems of the Miami area is that even the Homestead agricultural area can get cold on nights with extremely dry and cool air, thanks to radiative cooling.  The immediate coast, with warm Gulf Stream water close by, is more protected, so the Keys and Atlantic shoreline harbor some native plants that won't make it just a bit inland.  There's a reason why Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has areas protected from cold by walls and such.  Quite a few genuinely tropical plants won't survive Miami's cold spells without protection.  

Yes, ultra tropical species like breadfruit and Cyrtostachys renda won't survive unprotected long term in areas near the border of the tropics like Miami.

Another thing, look at the flora of Miami.  Sure, some of the native flora is subtropical, but almost all the plants and trees you see in Miami are tropical species.

Edited by palmsOrl
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Dave-Vero

Years ago, Barry Tomlinson did a book on native tropical vs. temperate plants of south Florida.  In a climate with periodic catastrophic freezes, the tropicals sneak north, then get massacred.  That's part of nature in this state.  After the great 1980s freezes, salt marshes replaced mangroves in Brevard and even Indian River counties.  Now mangroves are luxuriating around St. Augustine.  For how long, no one knows.

Miami's hammocks are (were) almost entirely tropical.  

Tropical climates are of course complex.  I had the privilege to visit a palm garden above Kona recently, up in the cloud belt.  Because of the moisture and somewhat cooler temperatures, it was an utterly different place for cultivated plants compared to the town at sea level.

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Jimbean
15 hours ago, Dave-Vero said:

Years ago, Barry Tomlinson did a book on native tropical vs. temperate plants of south Florida.  In a climate with periodic catastrophic freezes, the tropicals sneak north, then get massacred.  That's part of nature in this state.  After the great 1980s freezes, salt marshes replaced mangroves in Brevard and even Indian River counties.  Now mangroves are luxuriating around St. Augustine.  For how long, no one knows.

Miami's hammocks are (were) almost entirely tropical.  

Tropical climates are of course complex.  I had the privilege to visit a palm garden above Kona recently, up in the cloud belt.  Because of the moisture and somewhat cooler temperatures, it was an utterly different place for cultivated plants compared to the town at sea level.

I was thinking of the same thing visiting this forum again.  I've spotted some gumbo limbo trees growing west of I-95 in central Brevard.  I've noticed stranger figs popping up more in north and west Brevard county and young gumbo limbo trees hidden among saw palms west of US-1 over the last couple of years.

IMG_20180921_185909.jpg

IMG_20180921_185924.jpg

IMG_20180921_185955.jpg

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Jimbean

That gumbo limbo by the way was growing west of I-95 in Viera

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Dave-Vero

The 1987 freeze killed gumbo limbos all over Cocoa Beach.  I think some surrounded by live oaks survived.  Those out in the open were goners, though there should have been some resprouting if people didn't chainsaw.

 

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palmsOrl

Look how far north Ficus aurea has been reported as native.  I have seen a few in Orange County.  Leu Gardens has one and there is one at a park on lake Maitland.

 

MapPic_Species2466.jpeg

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Zeeth

Interesting that Cocoa Beach was so affected by that freeze. Gumbo Limbo in mainland Bradenton is a long-term plant, and it doesn't benefit as much from the island microclimate. 

The national champion gumbo limbo tree is actually in Bradenton, and is estimated to be over 100 years old.

gumbo-limbo-tree-largest-de-soto-nationa

 

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NC_Palms

When looking at forest cover, I consider the immediate coastlines of South Florida to be tropical. The coastal hammock system is dominated by tropical species, which is the northernmost limit for most tropical plants. Interior South Florida and the rest of the state is subtropical coniferous, with the Everglades being a transitional zone of subtropical and tropical. 

I like to use the term "weak tropical" to describe the tropical portions of Florida. Tropical Florida seems to be the northernmost tropical climate in North America, thus influences from the subtropical southeast should be plentiful.  

Edited by NC_Palms
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Yunder Wækraus
1 hour ago, NC_Palms said:

When looking at forest cover, I consider the immediate coastlines of South Florida to be tropical. The coastal hammock system is dominated by tropical species, which is the northernmost limit for most tropical plants. Interior South Florida and the rest of the state is subtropical coniferous, with the Everglades being a transitional zone of subtropical and tropical. 

I like to use the term "weak tropical" to describe the tropical portions of Florida. Tropical Florida seems to be the northernmost tropical climate in North America, thus influences from the subtropical southeast should be plentiful.  

Pretty close to accurate. Note, however, that the southern rim of Okeechobee was also tropical in its original flora. Rather than having conifers, it boasted a custard apppe jungle, the only one of its kind in the USA, which was bedecked by the now-rare and very cold sensitive moon vine. 

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GottmitAlex

Latitude  (mainland) is 25.3N.   Sinaloa,MX is 25.1 so yeah, it's tropical.

Although some would argue anything above or south of 20 latitude is temperate....

I imagine altitude plays a role as well...

 

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NC_Palms
3 hours ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

Pretty close to accurate. Note, however, that the southern rim of Okeechobee was also tropical in its original flora. Rather than having conifers, it boasted a custard apppe jungle, the only one of its kind in the USA, which was bedecked by the now-rare and very cold sensitive moon vine. 

1

The southern regions of the Okeechobee seem to have a tropical microclimate.

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NC_Palms
1 hour ago, GottmitAlex said:

Latitude  (mainland) is 25.3N.   Sinaloa,MX is 25.1 so yeah, it's tropical.

Although some would argue anything above or south of 20 latitude is temperate....

I imagine altitude plays a role as well...

 

Anything south of 35º N and north of 35º S is considered to be the geographic subtropics. 

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GottmitAlex
3 minutes ago, NC_Palms said:

Anything south of 35º N and north of 35º S is considered to be the geographic subtropics. 

Interesting.. I would say the same. However based on cartography, it is not the case.

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NC_Palms

I also want to add that climate classification is very subjective. Originally from the Northeast, I consider the coastal regions of South Florida to be tropical and the rest of the Southeastern coastal plain (up to coastal MD/DE to be subtropical. 

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Moose
On ‎3‎/‎12‎/‎2018‎ ‎7‎:‎56‎:‎53‎, bubba said:

We have been TROLLED!

:o

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Epicuria

South Florida is not equatorial, but definitely tropical according to all widely accepted definitions. There are no record low temperature thresholds set. 

For those living over there and lamenting how the lows might occasionally drop low enough to prevent some ultra-tropical flora from growing, I can assure you that any climate type has variations both in terms of temperatures and flora.  For example, continental climates have rather big differences in how low you can expect the temperatures to plummet in the winter. Does it become an entirely different climate type? No. Cold-winter subtype perhaps? Yes. 

We don't even have to look at the most dramatically contrasting examples to see how subtle differences affect the flora. Several temperate species will stop growing in Eastern Europe after you move just a little bit farther inland towards the huge Eurasian landmass, even though the winter lows may only be a few degrees lower than in coastal areas. This does not mean that you have transitioned to a different climate type. Majority of the vegetation remains the same. A tropical climate does not need to include ALL tropical flora, just like any other climate type does not need to include ALL flora which is found growing in some other areas which are classified as the same.

In nature every transition is gradual, but climate classifications could not exist if there were no defined limits for a specific climate type, which includes a pre-set temperature variation. In the case of tropical climates at least 18C every month of the year is the definition, and in the case of continental climates you're looking at less than 0C in the coldest months of the year.

Having driven around much of Southern and Central Florida, it is also quite striking how well Köppen's 18C coldest month classification seems to correspond to the predominant native vegetation, which looks tropical to the south of the isotherm. Again, some ultra-tropical species being missing does not define anything else but perhaps an equatorial climate, which is not the debate here.

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Estlander
5 hours ago, Epicuria said:

South Florida is not equatorial, but definitely tropical according to all widely accepted definitions. There are no record low temperature thresholds set. 

For those living over there and lamenting how the lows might occasionally drop low enough to prevent some ultra-tropical flora from growing, I can assure you that any climate type has variations both in terms of temperatures and flora.  For example, continental climates have rather big differences in how low you can expect the temperatures to plummet in the winter. Does it become an entirely different climate type? No. Cold-winter subtype perhaps? Yes. 

We don't even have to look at the most dramatically contrasting examples to see how subtle differences affect the flora. Several temperate species will stop growing in Eastern Europe after you move just a little bit farther inland towards the huge Eurasian landmass, even though the winter lows may only be a few degrees lower than in coastal areas. This does not mean that you have transitioned to a different climate type. Majority of the vegetation remains the same. A tropical climate does not need to include ALL tropical flora, just like any other climate type does not need to include ALL flora which is found growing in some other areas which are classified as the same.

In nature every transition is gradual, but climate classifications could not exist if there were no defined limits for a specific climate type, which includes a pre-set temperature variation. In the case of tropical climates at least 18C every month of the year is the definition, and in the case of continental climates you're looking at less than 0C in the coldest months of the year.

Having driven around much of Southern and Central Florida, it is also quite striking how well Köppen's 18C coldest month classification seems to correspond to the predominant native vegetation, which looks tropical to the south of the isotherm. Again, some ultra-tropical species being missing does not define anything else but perhaps an equatorial climate, which is not the debate here.

Tere tulemast foorumisse!

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Cody Thurber
On 9/30/2013 at 10:21 PM, bubba said:

One thing that has not been considered in this discussion is the microclimates created by proximity to the Gulfstream. There are a number of private gardens here in PB with Cyrtostachys. Mine was mashed by Wilma not cold. My Licula grandis survived Wilma and now has over a foot of trunk adjacent to that beautiful red stuff. Definite Tropical Savannah per Koppen but the Stream is only 2 miles off shore and that means a steady 85 degree F. heater two miles off shore. The Stream is 10-12 miles off shore in MB. This stuff becomes horseshoes and hand grenades. I can show you a 40 foot Areca catchetu and I have not seen one that big at Fairchild.

 

Even pockets in the Glades on the NE side of Lake O near Pahokee are virtually frostless with rare bananas grown mysteriously. Last year that same area was the only place in the continental US with sweet corn in Jan. It was zapped by frost all the way South of Homestead.

 

That stated, other than the Keys Drive, for pure tropical feel, I would suggest the Tamiami Trail to Naples. Can only imagine the tough ones that dredge trenched that roadway back in the day. I bet they could tell you some stories that would smell "tropics".

So spot on. Born and raised in Key West, and what's not being taken into account here is the Gulfstream current, the reason South Florida is or is nearly tropical at all. Fastest and tightest current in the world, two rollicking forces meeting at a crossroads and absolutely cannon balling out into sea off the East coast. Key West, if you look at the map, absolutely enjoys the same type of contact to the GS as Miami and Ft Lauderdale do, but as you can see, Palm Beach is in fact just about 2 miles from a VERY warm and fast section of this water super highway. Key West has some pretty chilly days in the dry season that come with it's surprising NW currents. Many a shipwrecks have been caught in this NW lull that can be seen below as well. Nonetheless, a chilly current coming close to shore in the dry months, which in KW and South S Florida, have fewer days of rain and do not meet the minimum requirement of 2.4 inches of monthly rain. Basically, PBC stays wet and warm in January and February due to the radiator that is the GSC. It really is horseshoes and hand grenades and needs to be talked about more. Personally, the K-G scale takes more into account than just minimum temps as in the hardiness zones and they really shined in pointing out what does seem to be an Eastern Palm Beach county micro climate. 

gulf-stream-YYY.gif

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greysrigging

Chiming in on the topic half a world and a full hemisphere away from the subject city, going purely on climate data, Miami is definitely a 'tropical' location, despite being outside of the Tropical Zones as delineated by the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
Similar temp averages to equivalent Southern Hemisphere sites on the Queensland and Western Australian coasts with the same or near same latitudes, actually a bit warmer  for maxim average temps summer and winter. The minimums are substantially warmer all year round.
I would not give too much credence to extreme historical lows....even coastal towns in tropical Queensland have recorded below 32f historically.
Most Aussie regard the Queensland coasts  north from say Noosa ( lat 26.4*S ) and the WA coasts from about Carnarvon  north ( 24.88*S ) as being 'tropical', although the WA tropical coasts are actually arid deserts with less than 9" of a rain a year at Carnarvon.
Getting back to Miami climate data, I would be looking at 5th and 10th percentile, and 90 and 95 percentile of maximum and minimum temps, daily and monthly.... gives a solid indication of the frequency of extreme events statistically. 
Here's an example for a similar latitude town in Queensland, Hervey Bay
http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=36&p_display_type=dataFile&p_stn_num=040405
https://www.weatherzone.com.au/climate/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=40405
http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=38&p_display_type=dataFile&p_stn_num=040405

 

Edited by greysrigging
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RedRabbit
On 8/19/2020 at 12:28 PM, Cody Thurber said:

So spot on. Born and raised in Key West, and what's not being taken into account here is the Gulfstream current, the reason South Florida is or is nearly tropical at all. Fastest and tightest current in the world, two rollicking forces meeting at a crossroads and absolutely cannon balling out into sea off the East coast. Key West, if you look at the map, absolutely enjoys the same type of contact to the GS as Miami and Ft Lauderdale do, but as you can see, Palm Beach is in fact just about 2 miles from a VERY warm and fast section of this water super highway. Key West has some pretty chilly days in the dry season that come with it's surprising NW currents. Many a shipwrecks have been caught in this NW lull that can be seen below as well. Nonetheless, a chilly current coming close to shore in the dry months, which in KW and South S Florida, have fewer days of rain and do not meet the minimum requirement of 2.4 inches of monthly rain. Basically, PBC stays wet and warm in January and February due to the radiator that is the GSC. It really is horseshoes and hand grenades and needs to be talked about more. Personally, the K-G scale takes more into account than just minimum temps as in the hardiness zones and they really shined in pointing out what does seem to be an Eastern Palm Beach county micro climate. 

gulf-stream-YYY.gif

Singer Island has been discussed a few times since it is so close to the Gulf Stream, but is there any evidence it is warmer than points further south in Broward or Dade? 
 

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kinzyjr
3 hours ago, RedRabbit said:

Singer Island has been discussed a few times since it is so close to the Gulf Stream, but is there any evidence it is warmer than points further south in Broward or Dade? 
 

Weather Underground has two stations close by:

Sometimes you get lucky and they'll hold some level of historical data.  In this case, I was hoping to be able to get back to the advective freeze of Jan. 2018 at a minimum so we at least had one freeze worth of data to compare.  Unfortunately, the historical data for these two stations doesn't go back that far. 

I looked for NOAA data, but the closest two stations are on the mainland instead of the island

WEST PALM BEACH RADIO WJN, FL US (GHCND:USC00089521)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL US (GHCND:USC00089520)

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palmsOrl

According to the Köppen definition of a tropical climate, all of South Florida has a climate that is truly tropical.  The occurrence of rare or even occasional freezes or even frozen precipitation does not necessarily preclude an area's climate from being considered (truly) tropical.  The "tropical" designation is simply based on the average temperature of the coldest month.  If the average temperature of a location's coldest month is 18C (64.4F) or higher, then the climate is considered tropical (under the Köppen classification system).

South Florida is right on the edge of being tropical due to its relatively high latitude and geographical location, which periodically allows cold fronts to bring intrusions of greatly modified cold Arctic air to the region.  Nonetheless, the climate of South Florida is still tropical by the most commonly accepted definition.

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greysrigging
4 hours ago, palmsOrl said:

According to the Köppen definition of a tropical climate, all of South Florida has a climate that is truly tropical.  The occurrence of rare or even occasional freezes or even frozen precipitation does not necessarily preclude an area's climate from being considered (truly) tropical.  The "tropical" designation is simply based on the average temperature of the coldest month.  If the average temperature of a location's coldest month is 18C (64.4F) or higher, then the climate is considered tropical (under the Köppen classification system).

South Florida is right on the edge of being tropical due to its relatively high latitude and geographical location, which periodically allows cold fronts to bring intrusions of greatly modified cold Arctic air to the region.  Nonetheless, the climate of South Florida is still tropical by the most commonly accepted definition.

That's right ^^.... Miami compares very favourably to Townsville in North Queensland ( lat 19.23*S )
Townsville is 1,331 miles south of the equator, Miami is 1783 miles from the equator.
Miami is warmer on average ( just ) for min temps than Townsville....whereas Townsville has slightly warmer max temps on average.
Yearly means....Miami 24.55c ( 76.2f ). Townsville 24.35c ( 75.8f )
No one ever considers Townsville to be not 'tropical" . In appearance , climatically,  vegetation, lifestyle, architecture etc it is a quintessential  North Queensland tropical city..
And even so far into the deep north, infusions of cold air sometimes affect the region....latest being back in May this year with sub 12c ( 53f ) maximums just inland of Townsville.

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Yunder Wækraus

If FL had even the most meager mountains, it would have truly tropical microclimates. It’s only the rare freezes that prevent the maturation of trees that otherwise grow in places like Cairns. 

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palmsOrl

South Florida is truly tropical by the currently accepted definition.  In addition, South Florida likely has millions (tropical trees are ubiquitous in much of South Florida) large, mature tropical trees and easily 90+% of the non-native flora of much of South Florida is tropical.

In addition to the annual rainfall (and other factors for certain types of climates), it is the temperature averages, not the extremes that define a particular climate.  The extremes can and do, however, dictate a region's flora and fauna, both native and that introduced by man.

In theory, an area could have an extremely rare cold event about every hundred years where the temperature drops to 0F, but if the average temperature of the coldest month is 18C (64.4F) or higher, then the climate of that area is tropical.  Who knows what the native vegetation would be composed of in such an area, as 0F would completely kill all tropical vegetation, roots and all.  

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chinandega81
4 hours ago, palmsOrl said:

South Florida is truly tropical by the currently accepted definition.  In addition, South Florida likely has millions (tropical trees are ubiquitous in much of South Florida) large, mature tropical trees and easily 90+% of the non-native flora of much of South Florida is tropical.

In addition to the annual rainfall (and other factors for certain types of climates), it is the temperature averages, not the extremes that define a particular climate.  The extremes can and do, however, dictate a region's flora and fauna, both native and that introduced by man.

In theory, an area could have an extremely rare cold event about every hundred years where the temperature drops to 0F, but if the average temperature of the coldest month is 18C (64.4F) or higher, then the climate of that area is tropical.  Who knows what the native vegetation would be composed of in such an area, as 0F would completely kill all tropical vegetation, roots and all.  

My question is, why are "natives" so commonly planted in South Florida when we can sport all kind of tropical flowering trees? I know some exotics have been disasterous for the state, but there are many tropical trees that would perform beautifully here....but we are reduced to the same trees in public and commercial plantings. When I see pictures of Hawaii or the Caribbean islands, they have such great diversity in plantings in public and commercial areas...but we have the ubiquitious live oaks ad nauseum. Even when we there are non-natives, they rarely stray from the Royal Poinciana (which I love). Even local nurseries don't see many tropical flowering trees....and if they do, they have them in very large sizes that require a truck to deliver and plant. I have planted my yard with all kinds of tropical trees and I have had to go to over 10 nursueries just to find what I have been looking for. I don't know if it's the nurseries to blame who mass produce certain varieites or if local govt dictates to them what to plant for purchases later on? I think it's such a waste that we landscape our area to make it look like north and central Florida when we are unique and different. We should showcase that, not simply try to look like the rest of the more temperate parts of the state.

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