Think of Florida and you think of coconut palms, mango trees, and orange blossoms -- right? Not always. In fact, a "northern look" is taking over the state, laments Henry Donselman, a University of Florida horticulturalist. One reason is lethal yellowing, which has wiped out 70 percent of Florida coconut palms along the Atlantic Coast since 1972. Another is zoning ordinances. These require developers to plant a certain number of trees and shrubs, and the developers always seem to pick the same cheap, plentiful, nontropical varieties like live oaks and black olives.
What's needed?Wipe out landscape ordinances, suggests Donselman. People do better on their own. Meanwhile, many homeowners already are putting in new types of coconuts which resist lethal yellowing.m