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Clearwater considers tree, flower of its own

Known for its beaches and views of picturesque sunsets over the gulf, the city soon may add an official tree and flower to its repertoire of beautiful attractions.

City commissioners are considering adopting the hibiscus as the city flower and the live oak as the city tree.

Clearwater officials would join many municipal, county and state government officials throughout the country who have adopted official trees and flowers as distinguishing features of their communities.

The city's Beautification Committee is recommending the species to city commissioners, who are scheduled to consider the idea this week.

"A lot of cities adopt flowers and trees," said committee member Candace Gardner.

"When we looked into it, we thought Clearwater should, too. After all, we're trying to establish the city as sparkling Clearwater."

Selecting the common species would allow residents to get involved in enhancing the city's appearance, according to the committee's proposal. The group lists other reasons.

Live oak trees, for instance, are abundant throughout the city. They can tolerate droughts, have attractive canopies, provide habitats for wild life and can live as long as 300 years, the proposal says.

Committee members, who with city staff have researched the proposal for a year, are recommending the "showy" hibiscus bush for the city flower.

The hibiscus blooms for long periods of time throughout the year, and it, too, requires a moderate amount of water, the proposal says.

"We're trying to pick out something that is going to survive," Gardner said.

Mayor Rita Garvey said she objects to the hibiscus' sensitivity to frost.

"If we're going to adopt one, let's adopt the state flower," Garvey said.

The state flower is the orange blossom. The state tree is the Sabal palm.

If commissioners accept the plan, the city's nursery would use the species in landscaping projects, the proposal says.

Hibiscus bushes, for instance, could be planted around signs welcoming visitors to Clearwater.

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