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Ficus aurea in interior Central Florida?

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RedRabbit

I spotted some Ficus aurea in Safety Harbor, FL a couple weeks ago which is a little further north than I expected to see them, but it made since given it is a 10a area right on the water. This made me curious what their range is like in Florida and I found this map from USF:

 

MapPic_Species2466.jpeg

The counties that stand out the most to me are Polk and Osceola. Does anyone know if there are really Ficus aurea growing in interior Central Florida like this map suggests?

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fastfeat

I worked in Safety Harbor and recall seeing a few F. aurea.

As far as Polk and Osceola Cos, I'd think they'd be scarce. From USF, I didn't see any scanned specimens for Osceola Co, Though from Polk, there's this one--

  http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/img/specimens/USF/250871.jpg

I;m always skeptical of solo trees being assumed to be wild. The above vouchred specimen was found in a "disturbed" hammock . Maybe flown-over via bird droppings or man?

 

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Bill H2DB

  There are a few remnant Ficus Aureas in the DB area . Larger ones can survive and return from the roots . During extended warm times , enough

fruit can be produced to allow some spreading by birds etc , but the next inevitable big freeze knocks them back . 

Same goes for the Tillandsias etc .

   As development has proceeded , there's less of the type of environment needed to see this process happening .

Everything must be cleared , mowed , clipped , weed whacked , and turned into the type of setting that looks so nice in brochures , and

pleases the HOA .

 

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RedRabbit
7 hours ago, fastfeat said:

I worked in Safety Harbor and recall seeing a few F. aurea.

As far as Polk and Osceola Cos, I'd think they'd be scarce. From USF, I didn't see any scanned specimens for Osceola Co, Though from Polk, there's this one--

  http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/img/specimens/USF/250871.jpg

I;m always skeptical of solo trees being assumed to be wild. The above vouchred specimen was found in a "disturbed" hammock . Maybe flown-over via bird droppings or man?

 

Apparently the one in Osceola County is in the Disney Wilderness Preserve: http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/img/specimens/USF/231651.jpg

I really like F. aurea so I hope there are some in these interior Central Florida hammocks. A couple of the ones reported in Hillsborough County were a lot further inland than I would have expected so maybe they really do live away from the coasts.

5 hours ago, Bill H2DB said:

  There are a few remnant Ficus Aureas in the DB area . Larger ones can survive and return from the roots . During extended warm times , enough

fruit can be produced to allow some spreading by birds etc , but the next inevitable big freeze knocks them back . 

Same goes for the Tillandsias etc .

   As development has proceeded , there's less of the type of environment needed to see this process happening .

Everything must be cleared , mowed , clipped , weed whacked , and turned into the type of setting that looks so nice in brochures , and

pleases the HOA .

 

Very cool, the furthest north I had heard of them is in NSB. I'm glad to hear there are some in Daytona too. :)

 

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Walt

I'm in zone 9b and have been growing a Ficus aurea for about 8 or 9 years now. My small tree (at the time) took a really big hit in 2010, killing it down to the ground. But it started to regrow and I dug it up and repotted it. After it regrew to about 6 feet high I planted it, but in a different location. It's one of my slower growing ficus species, but it's in heavy shade, so that is probably a contributing factor as to why it is slower growing. I'm growing around 10 species of ficus. I bought my tree from a native plant nursery in Ft. Myers.

As far as the map goes, I've found mature Ficus aurea growing in Highlands County, but they were growing on lake front properties, so they were solidly in zone 10.

The next ficus species I would like to get is Ficus  citrifolia, the other Florida native.

 

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RedRabbit
1 hour ago, Walt said:

I'm in zone 9b and have been growing a Ficus aurea for about 8 or 9 years now. My small tree (at the time) took a really big hit in 2010, killing it down to the ground. But it started to regrow and I dug it up and repotted it. After it regrew to about 6 feet high I planted it, but in a different location. It's one of my slower growing ficus species, but it's in heavy shade, so that is probably a contributing factor as to why it is slower growing. I'm growing around 10 species of ficus. I bought my tree from a native plant nursery in Ft. Myers.

As far as the map goes, I've found mature Ficus aurea growing in Highlands County, but they were growing on lake front properties, so they were solidly in zone 10.

The next ficus species I would like to get is Ficus  citrifolia, the other Florida native.

 

Thanks Walt for confirming some really do live away from the coast. That's awesome you've got 10 species of Ficus! :)

Edited by RedRabbit

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Bill H2DB

    Take a ride up Old 17 from Frostproof on up to Davenport , through the old towns . In these old towns , there are Ficus's

( usually Benghalensis , Fiddle leaf , Aurea et al ) , Jacaranda  and more in the old neighborhoods . They freeze and return as the cold comes and goes.

   I myself , planted Ficus Macrophylla in Eastern Hardee County on the edge of the woods /wetlands .  Sold the place in 2005 and have not been

back , but from the aerials from Google Maps , it looks like they have survived .

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Eric in Orlando

Years ago I went hiking in the Disney Wilderness Preserve and there were some smaller specimens back in the woods there.There are others growing in woods on Disney property. I have also seen some wild and in some yards in east Orange County in the Econ River/Bithlo area and out at Wetlands Park by Christmas. I have also found seedlings growing here at Leu Gardens in Cabbage Palm boots or the crotches of other trees and seen seedlings growing in other palms around Orlando. There are mature ones just east of Orlando along the Indian River in Titusville and on Cape Canaveral so it would be easy for birds to spread the seeds inland east or north.

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Walt
22 hours ago, RedRabbit said:

Thanks Walt for confirming some really do live away from the coast. That's awesome you've got 10 species of Ficus! :)

I also want to get Ficus benghalensis. I've tried cuttings on three occasions, taken from local trees here in Lake Placid, and from trees up in Sebring,but all of the cuttings failed.

I plan on trying again once the weather warms to where nighttime temperatures stay around 70 degrees or more.

I have exactly 12 species of ficus in the ground. Some are still small, some are large. My list is: F. altissima, F. microcarpa, F. benjamina, F. alii, F. lyrata, F. rubinginosa, F. luschnathiana, F. macrophylla, F. aurea, F. timeke, and two unknown species. I also have another unknown species (about 6 feet or more tall) in a pot that I plan to plant in the ground next month. Also, I have a nice F. lutea that I will also plant next month. That will bring my in-ground species count up to 15.

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Bennz
On 2/12/2017, 1:23:00, Bill H2DB said:

 

 

19 hours ago, Bill H2DB said:

    Take a ride up Old 17 from Frostproof on up to Davenport , through the old towns . In these old towns , there are Ficus's

( usually Benghalensis , Fiddle leaf , Aurea et al ) , Jacaranda  and more in the old neighborhoods . They freeze and return as the cold comes and goes.

   I myself , planted Ficus Macrophylla in Eastern Hardee County on the edge of the woods /wetlands .  Sold the place in 2005 and have not been

back , but from the aerials from Google Maps , it looks like they have survived .

There's really a place called 'Frostproof'? I had to look that one up! I love it, someone has a sense of humour!

Seriously, how much cold do these places really get? It's hard to imagine a climate where a Ficus can grow for long enough to get large and still get cold enough to knock it down.

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Bennz
6 hours ago, Walt said:

I also want to get Ficus benghalensis. I've tried cuttings on three occasions, taken from local trees here in Lake Placid, and from trees up in Sebring,but all of the cuttings failed.

I plan on trying again once the weather warms to where nighttime temperatures stay around 70 degrees or more.

Walt the 70F figure is not relevant with benghalensis, I have one growing here in a much cooler climate. It is in a horrible spot and does not grow fast (has only been watered once in its life and never fed), but it also never shows cold damage. 70F nights are about the warmest summer nights for us, and warmer than most of our winter daytimes! If benhalensis was limited to those temps it would never grow here.

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fastfeat
2 hours ago, Bennz said:

 

There's really a place called 'Frostproof'? I had to look that one up! I love it, someone has a sense of humour!

Seriously, how much cold do these places really get? It's hard to imagine a climate where a Ficus can grow for long enough to get large and still get cold enough to knock it down.

Ben--

Without looking up recent freeze data, I would guess that we're talking temps between 25-30F, probably for several hours and on at least a couple of consecutive nights. While these may not seem particularly cold to those who live in relatively cool climates, in warm-subtropical areas such as central Florida, temps like this are often devastating since the vegetation doesn't get a chance to harden off. In cooler climates, such as California (and likely NZ), average nighttime temps drop off more quickly in summer/fall. Such growth is far less likely to be damaged by similar temps that would devastate same in Florida. Of course, the flip side (as you've noted) is that total growth per season is generally far less.

Hope all is well.... 

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Bill H2DB

"There's really a place called 'Frostproof'? I had to look that one up! I love it, someone has a sense of humour!

Seriously, how much cold do these places really get? It's hard to imagine a climate where a Ficus can grow for long enough to get large and still get cold enough to knock it down."

   Right now , we are in one of those times-eras during which many , many tropicals are becoming big again , or even for the first time . There is a now an astounding number of

mid to large tropical stuff all through Central Florida . In my 65+ years of watching this happen , this is one of , if not the most , extreme versions of this . Another plant that tells the tale in some of the old towns are Mangos . You can see trees that have risen and frozen many times over many years . Those plants that develop deep large root systems , really roar back after being wiped out by freezes , or hurricanes .

Sooner , or Later.........it'll repeat .

      Frostproof was , and remains , a Citrus Town , and is where Ben Hill Griffin built his Empire . It sits on The Ridge , and that is where many of the lakes are . As Walt has documented here, the Ridge microclimate is considerable . Still, in the Big Ones , It gets cold. After the big one of 1985 , it was the first place that I saw some remaining green leaves up under the Citrus in the groves along US27 , as I drove from Daytona down to my place in Hardee County to check on the place .

   One of my favorite Florida town names is :  Two Egg .  Look it up .

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Walt
4 hours ago, Bennz said:

Walt the 70F figure is not relevant with benghalensis, I have one growing here in a much cooler climate. It is in a horrible spot and does not grow fast (has only been watered once in its life and never fed), but it also never shows cold damage. 70F nights are about the warmest summer nights for us, and warmer than most of our winter daytimes! If benhalensis was limited to those temps it would never grow here.

Ben.  What I mean is for better propagation of cuttings -- not for  growing a mature tree. I don't want to try and start cuttings when my nighttime temperatures are still falling into the 50s F as I think there will be far less chance they will take and develop roots. I can't recall now (as it was probably 10 years ago) what time of year I made cuttings of F. benghalensis. Perhaps it was during the colder months, and that's why they failed.

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Walt
23 minutes ago, Bill H2DB said:

"There's really a place called 'Frostproof'? I had to look that one up! I love it, someone has a sense of humour!

Seriously, how much cold do these places really get? It's hard to imagine a climate where a Ficus can grow for long enough to get large and still get cold enough to knock it down."

   Right now , we are in one of those times-eras during which many , many tropicals are becoming big again , or even for the first time . There is a now an astounding number of

mid to large tropical stuff all through Central Florida . In my 65+ years of watching this happen , this is one of , if not the most , extreme versions of this . Another plant that tells the tale in some of the old towns are Mangos . You can see trees that have risen and frozen many times over many years . Those plants that develop deep large root systems , really roar back after being wiped out by freezes , or hurricanes .

Sooner , or Later.........it'll repeat .

      Frostproof was , and remains , a Citrus Town , and is where Ben Hill Griffin built his Empire . It sits on The Ridge , and that is where many of the lakes are . As Walt has documented here, the Ridge microclimate is considerable . Still, in the Big Ones , It gets cold. After the big one of 1985 , it was the first place that I saw some remaining green leaves up under the Citrus in the groves along US27 , as I drove from Daytona down to my place in Hardee County to check on the place .

   One of my favorite Florida town names is :  Two Egg .  Look it up .

Not counting the 13 months I lived in Key West (1970-71, while in the navy), I've only lived in Highlands County, Florida, since 1997. But I've been very observant to cold weather (freezes and frost and duration of same). I will say this with regard to the Lake Wales Ridge. Its main benefit is mainly on windless or near windless nights under clear skies. But that is probably 95% of the coldest winter. Generally, the windy cold is slightly less colder on the first night (and there isn't any frost because of the wind). But the second night after the coldest air is over top of Florida, the wind dies off and radiational cooling kicks in in earnest. That is when the Ridge's benefit manifests itself, as the air stratifies and layers, getting warmer with each foot of elevation. I've checked this Ridge temperature condition many times and many ways. One, I've compared temperature readings from sources up on Ridge locations to sources down off the Ridge. Further, I've checked the condition using my car thermometer, observing a 7-8 degree temperature rise from up on the Ridge to down off the Ridge. I've made this check many times, with almost always the same results. And is should be noted I did this only on the coldest nights of winter and just before sun rise where there would be the greatest amount of variation between low ground and high ground locations.

Also, when I first move here I talked to an old Florida cracker citrus grove owner (Bev Cavender). This was after the horrid radiation freeze of January 5, 2001 (when Archbold Biological Station tied its record 13 degree low record). I recorded at least 22 degrees that morning. My bougainvilleas were melted to the ground. But I went the Cavender groves to buy some citrus and I noticed his bougainvilleas were still relatively okay. But his grove was on high ground. It was then he told me how he used to see large groves that spanned on and down the Ridge, and trees in the low areas of the grove were freeze damaged, while trees on the high areas were undamaged.

My conclusions to all my observance of cold along the Ridge is, is that the Ridge provides for about a 3/4 USDA zone warmer climate during the coldest nights. Conversely, it's slightly cooler during the day, but that's much more negligible than the warmer benefit it gets at night. About the only time the Ridge doesn't benefit is during extreme advective weather events like the Christmas of 1989 freeze. The air is too stirred up and homogenized for higher ground areas to have any beneficial heating effect.

The only advective cold I've experienced since living here was in January of 2003. It was a cold dry air invastion. It only dropped to 29 degrees at my place. My coldest air is always on radiational cooling nights. My worst night was in December of 2010 when my all-time low was 20.6 degrees. 

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Eric in Orlando

There is a big Ficus aurea at Disney's Polynesian Resort, by the luau area. It was planted back in the early 1970s. It is growing around a Sabal palmetto and they keep the tree trimmed and opened up so the palm is still visible and alive. I have noticed in the last few years seedlings coming up in nearby areas. There is also a big specimen at Epcot.

 

a42a.jpg

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Eric in Orlando
On 2/14/2017, 2:49:06, Bennz said:

 

There's really a place called 'Frostproof'? I had to look that one up! I love it, someone has a sense of humour!

Seriously, how much cold do these places really get? It's hard to imagine a climate where a Ficus can grow for long enough to get large and still get cold enough to knock it down.

 

Frostproof was originally named Keystone City (and before that Fort Clinch). But when they applied for a post office, postal authorities would not allow it because there was already a town in Florida called Keystone Heights. They chose Frostproof instead, as a marketing ploy because the citrus groves there survived the great freezes of 1894-95. But in 1899 another disastrous freeze struck and severely damaged the groves in the area.

 

 

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RedRabbit
On 2/13/2017, 7:12:49, Bill H2DB said:

    Take a ride up Old 17 from Frostproof on up to Davenport , through the old towns . In these old towns , there are Ficus's

( usually Benghalensis , Fiddle leaf , Aurea et al ) , Jacaranda  and more in the old neighborhoods . They freeze and return as the cold comes and goes.

   I myself , planted Ficus Macrophylla in Eastern Hardee County on the edge of the woods /wetlands .  Sold the place in 2005 and have not been

back , but from the aerials from Google Maps , it looks like they have survived .

 

On 2/15/2017, 8:46:40, Eric in Orlando said:

There is a big Ficus aurea at Disney's Polynesian Resort, by the luau area. It was planted back in the early 1970s. It is growing around a Sabal palmetto and they keep the tree trimmed and opened up so the palm is still visible and alive. I have noticed in the last few years seedlings coming up in nearby areas. There is also a big specimen at Epcot.

 

a42a.jpg

It is good to hear/see that some ficus were able to survive the 80s in Central Florida. I read the eucalyptus at Disney died back then and I figured ficus were less cold tolerant, but I guess that's not the case if there are some survivors both Polk County and Disney. :)

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RedRabbit
On 2/13/2017, 8:45:21, Eric in Orlando said:

Years ago I went hiking in the Disney Wilderness Preserve and there were some smaller specimens back in the woods there.There are others growing in woods on Disney property. I have also seen some wild and in some yards in east Orange County in the Econ River/Bithlo area and out at Wetlands Park by Christmas. I have also found seedlings growing here at Leu Gardens in Cabbage Palm boots or the crotches of other trees and seen seedlings growing in other palms around Orlando. There are mature ones just east of Orlando along the Indian River in Titusville and on Cape Canaveral so it would be easy for birds to spread the seeds inland east or north.

I'm a little surprised that map I posted didn't include Orange County given it is warmer than some of the other ones highlighted. It is good to know they grow there too. :)

On 2/13/2017, 8:43:14, Walt said:

I also want to get Ficus benghalensis. I've tried cuttings on three occasions, taken from local trees here in Lake Placid, and from trees up in Sebring,but all of the cuttings failed.

I plan on trying again once the weather warms to where nighttime temperatures stay around 70 degrees or more.

I have exactly 12 species of ficus in the ground. Some are still small, some are large. My list is: F. altissima, F. microcarpa, F. benjamina, F. alii, F. lyrata, F. rubinginosa, F. luschnathiana, F. macrophylla, F. aurea, F. timeke, and two unknown species. I also have another unknown species (about 6 feet or more tall) in a pot that I plan to plant in the ground next month. Also, I have a nice F. lutea that I will also plant next month. That will bring my in-ground species count up to 15.

I know of a pretty good sized f. benghalensis a couple miles from here, I think it is definitely worth a try for you! 

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DavidLee

USF's map is probably right. Ficus aurea doesn't have be a huge tree to make figs. It can produce figs as a small bush. So if it gets killed back, it recovers in a few years and produces figs. That's how that species reproduce and grows in colder areas that has hard freezes once in a while. There is quite a few Ficus aurea in Okeechobee City and some are fairly large.  In 2010 they didn't get killed back either. Only the leaves were burnt. I havnt seen any north of the city in Okeechobee county but it is possible. I also seen a few growing in hammocks in inland Saint Lucie and Indian River counties.

 

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