Based at the Florida Botanical Gardens, the urban reforestation project was implemented through locally through the Pinellas County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. A total of 750 native tree saplings and green stick flags were distributed to residents of Pinellas County during 2008-2009.According to Cortada, “Through this eco-art effort, we are encouraging residents to regrow the community’s native tree canopy one yard at a time.”
The following native trees of Pinellas County were spotlighted for 2009 reforestation by local residents:
- Bald Cypress
- Green Buttonwood
- Red Cedar
- Red Maple
- Sea Grape
- Slash Pine
TREES are one of man’s best friends. They breathe out oxygen which we breathe in and they breathe in carbon dioxide which we breathe out. They also take in enormous amounts of carbon dioxide which we put out into the environment through industrial and energy production. The shade of trees also cools us directly during hot seasons and can lower the cooling costs for our buildings when they are growing nearby. Trees also help to stabilize soil and hold water in the earth diminishing storm water runoff. We greatly help ourselves and the natural environment when we plant native trees.
Pinellas County Native Trees
Here is a list of native tree species available through the reclamation project in Pinellas County:
BALD CYPRESS (Taxodium distichum)
Deciduous conifer with mature height up to 50-80’ and spread up to 20-30’. It naturally occurs in wet areas but in the landscape is adaptable to drier (but not droughty) sites where it will not produce its characteristic “knees”. Like its cousin the redwood it can live 1000 years. Coppery to rusty orange fall foliage with a stately appearance in winter. Fast and easy to grow. It can be used as a specimen tree, shade tree, and near retention ponds, swales, and canals.
GREEN BUTTONWOOD (Conocarpus erectus)
Evergreen coastal tree up to 35-50’ tall and up to 15-40’ wide. Considered to be the fourth mangrove. It is very tough and durable and will grow in poor soils. Very drought and salt tolerant. Fast growing once established and hurricane resistant. Useful as a specimen, shade, or street tree, and for plantings near the shore.
RED MAPLE (Acer rubrum)
Showy deciduous tree up to 70’ in height and 40’ in width. Naturally occurs in wet or moist sites but is adaptable to drier (but not droughty) sites. Colorful red flowers in winter, red winged fruit in spring, and excellent fall color. Useful as a specimen or shade tree. Especially valuable in moist areas adjacent to retention ponds and in drainage swales.
SEA GRAPE (Coccoloba uvifera)
Unique large evergreen coastal shrub or medium size tree up to 35’ tall and 20’ wide. It has large interesting rounded leaves and the young leaves are an attractive mahogany color. Very drought and salt tolerant. Female plants produce grape-like fruit used by larger wildlife species and by people for making jelly. Good honey plant. Prunes easily. Useful as a specimen, shade tree (if pruned appropriately), as a large hedge or screening plant, for soil stabilization, or in coastal settings.
SLASH PINE (Pinus elliottii var. densa)
Tall needled evergreen with a potential height of 100-120’ and spread of 20-60’ wide. To protect itself from natural fires the young seedling goes through a “grass stage” for several years with no visible trunk. When ready it quickly sends up a trunk with the growing point now protected. Extremely drought tolerant. Provides good food, cover, and nesting opportunities for many species of wildlife. Wood used for building and furniture. Falling needles provide a very good garden mulch. Useful as a specimen or screening plant and in natural groupings.
SOUTHERN RED CEDAR (Juniperus virginiana)
Needled evergreen with a height from 20-60’ and spread of 10-30’. Conical in shape when younger and more spreading with age. Very adaptable; tolerant of alkaline soils, drought, and salt. Grows fast. Good bird cover and nesting tree. Female plant provides juniper berry type fruit much loved by birds. Wood used for pencils, boxes, and cedar closets. Useful as a specimen and as a hedge or screening plant.
PLANTING and CARING for YOUR NATIVE TREE
1. Placement: Choose a planting spot that is mostly sunny and large enough for the mature tree. It should be free of overhead wires and branches from other trees and away from septic systems.2. Planting: Dig a hole to the depth of the root ball. Do not add any soil amendments or fertilizer. While near the hole carefully remove the tree from the pot. Examine the roots, and, if they are wrapped around the root ball, loosen some of the exterior ones. Plant with the top of the root ball level with the surrounding soil. Use the extra soil to make a saucer to help hold water.3. Mulch: Add 2-3” of organic mulch from the outer edge of the saucer to the edge of the root ball. Do not allow mulch to remain against the trunk as this can cause the bark to rot.4. Watering: Water into the saucer every day for two weeks, then every other day for two weeks. Thereafter, water twice per week if there is no substantial rainfall. After one year the tree should be well established and require no supplemental watering unless there is a serious drought.5. Enjoy: Affectionately check the tree once in a while to make sure it is ok and take any needed action e.g. protection, watering, etc. This kind attention will reward you with many years of shade, beauty, and wildlife viewing.
To learn more about native trees, please visit the Florida Botanical Gardens (http://www.flbg.org/) or Native Plant Society (http://pinellas.fnpschapters.org/) websites.
MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT:
The Pinellas County Cultural Affairs Department under the guidance of the Public Art and Design Committee issued a Call-to-Artists for Florida artists. Artists were invited to submit qualifications to compete for a community-based public art project that pertains to environmental sustainability. The project is in cooperation withThe Florida Botanical Gardens, located at 12175 125th Street North, Largo, Florida 33774-3602. The Gardens are a unique blend of Florida native plants and in both natural and formal gardens. Garden managers have strong interest in education and the promotion of sustainable environmental practices. For detailed information about the Botanical Garden, visit www.flbg.org.
This community-based project was anticipated to result in a permanent artwork-which could be anything from an environmental intervention/mitigation effort to an artwork that would be displayed or integrated in a permanent location.
Miami artist Xavier Cortada applied for and won the commission to implement this Environmental Sustainability Project. His proposal included the creation of a “re-permanent” mangrove installation at the Florida Botanical Gardens, as well as using green flags to spotlight six native tree species which Pinellas County residents should reforest to help regrow the community’s native tree canopy. As part of the eco-art project, Cortada will distribute 750 native tree saplings of these six species and green project flags to Pinellas County residents to plant in their front yards.
Cortada worked with the Pinellas County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society (http://pinellas.fnpschapters.org/)
to develop a campaign to distribute the native saplings and green stick flags to county residents.
The effort was launched at Shorecrest Preparatory School
in St. Petersburg, FL on January 27th, 2009 at 10 am. The school grounds were “reclaimed” for nature as third and fourth graders plant an adult size Red Cedar (native) tree and large green project flag. NFL representatives (Jack Groh) and Native Plant Society officers joined artist Xavier Cortada in distributing 60 project stick flags and native tree saplings to fourth graders, who then planted them in their front yards reclaiming them for nature. Students also encouraged their neighbors to do the same.The trees distributed to students will be part of the NFL sanctioned planting to address climate change in the Super Bowl host community will be monitored by the NFL Environmental Program.