Not all exotic species are considered invasive; some were introduced specifically for ornamental purposes. If these plants are properly maintained, the risk they might otherwise impose on native plant communities can be significantly reduced or even eliminated. Some of the ornamentals used on the Preserve are considered benign; this means that they do not typically spread on their own or cause problems for native species. Others will not succeed at all without human maintenance.
There are many ornamental exotics in use on the Genius Preserve. Genius Drive is lined with an array of showy and aromatic flowering trees and shrubs originally planted by Charles Morse. He wanted to incorporate a variety of colors and fragrances to enhance the natural beauty of the oak hammock. The most prominent historic ornamentals are shell ginger, Formosa azalea and turk’s cap. Unfortunately, turk’s cap requires human intervention to keep its population in check. As a result of several years of neglect, turk’s cap became problematic in areas of the Preserve. Much has subsequently been removed, and the remaining stands are being managed.
Other ornamental exotics, including lantana, camellia and a variety of roses, were planted to adorn the Wind Song house when it was built in 1936. More recently, the creation of a buffer along the northern edge of the Wind Song lawn included gardenia; its showy white blossoms emit a sweet, perfumed fragrance that would waft through the warm Florida breeze and into the house. Other ornamentals used historically or in recent restorations include orchid tree, tabebuia and bird of paradise.
In addition to these flowering ornamental species, many non-native fruiting plants were cultivated on the Preserve, including banana, Japanese plum, Surinam cherry and several types of citrus.
Ornamental vegetation list
trumpet (Brugmansia suaveolens)
banana (Musa spp.)
bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis)
butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium)
camellia (Camellia japonica)
citrus (Citrus spp.)
firespike (Odontonema strictum)
Formosa azalea (Rhododendron simsii)
gardenia (Gardenia augusta)
heliconia (Heliconia sp.)
hibiscus (Hibiscus sp.)
jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)
Japanese plum (loquat) (Eryobotrya japonica)
lantana (Lantana spp.)
orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata)
pentas (Pentas lanceolata)
scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet)
silk oak (Grevillea robusta)
Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)
trumpet tree (Tabebuia heterophylla)
turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus)
weeping bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis)
weeping willow (Salix babylonica)
*Click here to download a PDF of the Genius Preserve Comprehensive Species Inventory, a full list of all species identified on the Genius Preserve including exotic/invasive species as well as those utilized in restoration and other planting projects.