South Florida Food Forest Species: Yes or No on These?


South Florida food forest species are my specie-a-lity!

skandy writes:

I have a few names that you can say yes/no to… (also because I need to know if they can grow in food forests in South Florida)
1. Persimmons

2. Taro

3. Sea Oats

4. Arrowroots

5. Guava

6. Sapodilla

7. Jackfruit

8. Jerusalem Artichoke

9. Cucamelon

10.Strangler Fig

11. Sunflower

Ah, plant lists. I love those. Let’s do it!

Will These Species Work in South Florida Food Forest Projects?

Here’s my take.



American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) probably not.

Japanese persimmons (Diospyros kaki), maybe. Their range stretches deeper into the south. However, they are usually grafted onto American persimmon roots. I can’t find good data on how they’ll fare in the heat and humidity and year-round warmth of South Florida, so this tree would be an experimental addition.

That said, you might consider planting chocolate pudding fruit (Diospyros nigra), persimmon’s delicious relative.


Most definitely. This is very easy to grow in south Florida.


Consider planting it in kiddie pools filled with muck or in swampy areas as it loves lots of water.

Sea Oats

Yes, no problem. Just make sure you get them from a nursery, not by stealing seeds from protected dune areas.


Arrowroot is very easy to grow in South Florida and will grow in some shade.

It also makes a good addition to edible landscapes, as the plant is quite attractive.


Guava is another winner for South Florida. I grew them in a pot in North Florida:


In South Florida, they’ll easily grow right in the ground. You may have to bag the fruits, though, as fruit fly infestations are common.


No problem! South Florida is warm enough to grow this delicious tropical delight.


Jackfruit grows well in South Florida, as my friends Chuck and Sarah can attest:

It’s a highly productive tree as well, with valuable fruit.

Jerusalem Artichoke

No. Though there are apparently varieties that set tubers in the tropics, I’ve had bad luck all around with Jerusalem artichokes in Florida. With so many other better root crops, such as yams, sweet potatoes, taro, malanga and cassava… why bother with this gastrointestinal destroyer?


Yes, these will grow. I grew their cousin the West Indian Gherkin.


However, Coccinea grandis is much easier and more productive. Here’s one growing in Ft. Lauderdale:

That there is an easy-to-grow cucumber.

Strangler Fig

Yes, these will grow. They’re native to South Florida and can be found all over the place. I’m not sure why you’d want to grow them, though.


Yes, they’ll grow – however, they are quite subject to insect attack in Florida and the heads often are filled with worms. Probably better for chicken feed than human feed.


There’s my two cents on the list. I share a lot more plant species for South Florida food forests in my booklet Create Your Own Florida Food Forest and my larger Florida gardening book Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening. Both are available in kindle, paperback and audio versions.

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