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Copyright Online Organizational Structure
Authorship Abbreviation Structure
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About (Overview)

Plantbook is a project of the Horticulture Department at Palm Beach State College closely allied to our book: "Landscape Plants for South Florida". With contributions by students and staff, the web project was initiated by William Zaugg (Online Editor, Contributor, and Horticulturist) and by George Rogers (Book Editor, Contributor, and Botanist).

Dr. George RogersGeorge Rogers, who received his Ph.D. in botany from the University of Michigan, did postdoctoral work at Harvard. He specializes in plant identification and classification and serves as chairman of the Horticulture Department at Palm Beach State College.

William Zaugg is graduate of the Environmental Horticulture Program at Palm Beach State College with a Landscape and Horticultural Professional II certification.


Copyright © George K. Rogers 2012

Published by George Rogers, Palm Beach State College (formerly Palm Beach Community College) 3160 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410-2893.

All rights reserved. No part of this resource may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission from the copyright owner.

Editor: George K. Rogers

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Introduction, Bibliography, Index, and associated materials: George Rogers

Plant species treatments: Authorship by the faculty, staff and students of the Palm Beach State College Horticulture Department.

Individual authorship is indicated at the beginning of each family chapter.

Book cover: Curtis Rogers

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A grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust made this publication possible.

Book Designer Caroline Blochlinger ( designed, laid out, and negotiated printings for the first edition. Her original design has been retained, victimized by two rounds of revisions.

Landscape Architect and Professor Jae Eun Kim handled the computer work for the second edition.

Horticulturist Maura Merkal is the current webmaster and on-line editor for, which contains all of the information in the textbook and more.

My partner in many projects, John Bradford, shared his excellent photo collection. His photos are salted throughout the book.

The product has benefited from the help of Drs. Christiane and William Anderson (Malpighiaceae), Dr. Paul Berry (Clusiaceae), Marx Broszio (Bamboos), Dr. Thomas Daniel (Acanthaceae), and Dr. Peter Goldblatt (Iridaceae). Curtis Rogers designed the beautiful cover for all three printings. Major contributors to the second edition were Lisa Cushing (Heliconiaceae), Wendy Mazuk (photography), Sandra Popp (Bromeliaceae), and Martin Strenges (phototography). Trade Winds Fruit donated photos from their collection and website. Christine Ashe sent the photo of Portea. Gary Cotterill at donated Australian Bromeliad photos. Advancing to the third printing, Merry Constanza was the key to coverage of Caladiums. Tom Hewitt lent an experienced hand with perennials, supplying suggestions, data, and photographs. Logee's Greenhouse donated photos. Forest and Kim Starr make their photos available for non-profit projects such as this; a few of their photos are in the manual consistent with their usage policy and with explicit credit to them. Papayatree Plant Nursery and the University of Arizona granted access to their photo collections.

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Online Organizational Structure

For page to page navigation purposes on this site, plants are arranged alphabetically by family name and then alphabetically by species name.

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Abbreviation Structure

There are two sets of abbreviations.

Abbreviations concerned with the growth forms and horticultural characteristics appears in the data tables associated with each species. A key to these abbreviations can be found on the Abbreviation Key page. On the Plant Browser page, an abbreviation key can be found in drop-down menu form and is condensed to match only the abbreviations specific to that page.

Abbreviations concerning references are three letters. For each listing in the bibliography we have assigned a three-letter code, usually the first three letters of the author's last name. These codes are listed in parentheses at the ends of the bibliographic citations and follow the alphabetical order of the entries. Most internet sources and one-time references are listed directly on the individual species pages. The abbreviation "PBCC" means "author's personal observation", not necessarily at the college campus.

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With the rise of the Internet, books on cultivated plants may be less needed than in earlier times. The Internet is a goldmine of plant information. Horticultural web sites have sprouted like mushrooms, some better than others. Comparison of a 10-minute Internet effort with the entry in any landscaping manual confirms the value of the Internet. This internet site is companion to the textbook.

So why bother compiling yet another paper manual? A "manual" is still valuable. One reason is nomenclature. Perhaps the biggest problem with Internet-based plant data is with the varied use of plant names. Most plants go by multiple English and botanical names. The present effort brings such information together. We list important synonymy (multiple names in use) for many species.

A second reason for not relying 100% the Internet is localization. The plant world is big, broad, and diverse. The way a species behaves in Florida differs from that in Hawaii. If you are interested in, say, orchids, there are some 30,000 species of them, and that count does not include hybrids, grexes, cultivars, and other human-made named "kinds." You can hardly "get your mind around" this diversity, but the world is narrower on a local scale. The present Manual filters the information down to South Florida.

A third reason for a manual is convenience. Not everyone carries around a web-connected device.

Does South Florida need yet another reference on cultivated plants? Yes. Despite the large number of books on Florida cultivated plants, nothing covers all the bases. Most provide a menu of attractive plant choices for home gardeners but have gaps that we are striving to fill insofar as possible. Gaps in existing resources are:


1. Breadth of coverage. The number of species and cultivars grown in South Florida is enormous, well over 1000. Total coverage in any reference is impossible, although the quarterly Plant Finder from Betrocks Information Systems in Hollywood, Florida comes close to comprising a checklist of landscaping plants offered at wholesale commercial sources. This is our jumping-off point for deciding on species to include, although many older landscaping plants and native species not in the Plant Finder are included in the Manual. By the same publisher, Betrock’s Reference Guide to Florida Landscape Plants, by Timothy Broschat and Alan Meerow is a 1991 (reprinted) database listing cultural attributes for numerous Florida plants.
We aim to account for the vast majority of significant landscaping species cultivated in South Florida, not giving much attention to the endlessly hybridized, cultivar-dominated specialty groups, such as Orchids, Bromeliads, Crotons, Heliconias, and Begonias. Each of these groups demands (and has) entire books devoted to them individually.


2. Botanical and nomenclatural accuracy. Dealing professionally with any given plant group reveals centuries of interpretations and re-interpretations of classification and nomenclature by taxonomists. The more a person learns about a plant group, the more complex this historical taxonomic web becomes. Virtually any well known species has accumulated a long list of names variably applied to (and/or excluded from) that species, depending on differing ideas about its borders, membership, and geographic range; and depending on the vagaries of changing nomenclatural rules. Species are concepts, and they differ in the eyes of different beholders. There is no possibility of any book ever getting all this 100% right, because there is no absolute "right." Many readers may benefit from a reminder that the classification of families, genera, species, and varieties is the domain of botanical taxonomists. Taxonomists seldom concern themselves with cultivars, which are trivial from a classification standpoint. Cultivars are unregulated, unscientific, often impossible to identify definitively and often nothing more than color variants or marketing devices.
The present effort is written attentively to the underlying taxonomic botany. Yet uncritical adherence to every new taxonomic interpretation in the spirit of "they have changed the name of this plant" is as simplistic as ignoring the march of progress. We believe the best approach is a case-by-case handling of taxonomic-nomenclatural matters. We cite sources for deviations from common usage and list important synonyms (the alternate names for a plant). Often "either/or" disagreements about plant names are oversimplifications. In some cases we have consulted taxonomists specializing in certain plant groups. These persons are mentioned below.

Although there is no single final authority on the interpretive subjective side of plant classification, there is such authority when it comes to the forms, formats, spellings, and objective aspects of nomenclature. This authority is the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, revised approximately every four years by an International Botanical Congress. The "Code" settles such questions as to what categories can be used in classifying plants, how they must be formatted, spelling principles, the nomenclatural consequences of subdividing and merging groups, and in special (but not all!) circumstances which name to adopt when there are competing names. The Code sets the spelling for almost all family names and many generic names (such as Buddleja as opposed to Buddleia).

Authority and sources of information
. The accumulation of information by many persons in many places over many years is what it is all about. Authors should not write only from limited personal experience, when a better assessment comes by melding personal experience with previous literature, inquiries to experts, and the Internet. This is all standard in academic writing, backed up with citations.

Seeking consensus in horticultural writings is an interesting and eye-opening experience. When consulting multiple sources for the same point of information, authorities often disagree wildly, which is healthy and expected, given that background variables differ. Agreement among authorities is more common and sometimes a little worrisome when TOO congruent, forming the illusion of consensus, just as gossip can become falsely self-confirming when it has spread far and wide from a single common source. We cannot overcome this hazard completely, but users of this manual will see the sources of the information we present, freshened with our own experience and direct expert opinion.

     4. Attention to native species and invasive exotics. Oddly, most of the existing books on Florida gardening often tend to sort themselves out across a border: native species vs. exotic landscaping species. Several landscaping books ignore the rich (and commercially available) menu of native species adapted to our soils and climate. A separate set of books features native plants for landscaping. The present manual has two premises on the subject of indigenous plants: 1) Native species are highly desirable for South Florida landscaping. 2) Selecting the best plants for a landscaping project is not usually a simple natives vs. exotics proposition. It is a matter of selecting the most appropriate, non-invasive selections, native or not, and the manual is written accordingly.

We deplore the long-standing sin in Florida horticulture of introducing non-native species without adequate attention to the possibility of invading Florida’s natural areas. With the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council as our primary guide, we have flagged species with this tendency, and we have given the FEPPC Categories. Category I is severe; Category II less so.

Further, just what constitutes being “native”? Is a species found naturally only in the Keys “native” for Palm Beach County? What about a rare species occurring wild only in a few scattered localities? Is a species from the nearby Bahamas more native to West Palm Beach than one brought from the distant Florida Panhandle? Is a species brought to Florida by ancient indigenous peoples native, or one brought by a recent hurricane, or suddenly able to live in Florida due to Global Warming? What about human-derived variants (cultivars) of indigenous species? Thus "native" comes in degrees, and sometimes is not fully known.


5. Plant identification and distinctions. Very few plant manuals provide the information necessary to distinguish similar species, or to understand the size and diversity of many plant groups. This is usually accomplished by use of identification keys, such as those in Bailey’s Manual of Cultivated Plants. Because the world is filled with visually similar species, and any given group of plants is usually bewilderingly diverse and complex when seen in broad perspective, a manual without an identification key is nearly worthless for identification purposes. For example, South Florida gardeners generally apply the term “Ficus” to one species---Ficus benjamina. But, in fact, there are some 800 Ficus species in the world, with about 15 species cultivated in South Florida. Distinguishing among related species is central to understanding the cultivated flora of South Florida. We include identification keys to all species.


6. Inclusion of invasive species. This manual is not a list of suggested species. For any given situation, individual species fall variably along a spectrum running from ideal to unsuitable. And, of course, some species are essentially always unwelcome, most prominently the invasive exotics. Yet invasive exotics are common in landscaping and thus are included because this is an information manual, and information on all species is useful.

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