When hurricanes blow in, some trees hold their own while others topple. Those that weather the storm, however, can be vulnerable to insects and diseases that enter through damaged limbs. A tree's age, size and health are important factors in determining whether it will survive a violent storm. One thing to remember: Not all trees are created equal.
Researchers at the University of Florida studied the effect on about 5,000 trees after hurricanes Erin (with 85-mph sustained winds) and Opal (125-mph winds) hit the Florida Panhandle in 1995. They concluded that two of the most hurricane-resistant trees are the live oak (Quercus virginiana ) and the sabal palm (Sabal palmetto ). The only sabal palm that fell in both hurricanes was knocked over by another falling tree. (No wonder the sabal, also called cabbage palm, is Florida's state tree.)
The big loser? The shallow-rooted sand pine (Pinus clausa ), which researchers urge homeowners not to plant near their homes. Use the data below to assess the trees in your yard and as a helpful guide to tree selection in the future.