Florida’s Hardwood Forested Uplands

Mesic Hammock
Mesic hammock is a well-developed evergreen hardwood and/or palm forest on soils that are rarely inundated. The canopy is typically closed and dominated by live oak (Quercus virginiana), with cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) generally common in the canopy and subcanopy. Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and pignut hickory (Carya glabra) may be occasional in the subcanopy. These species become less important where they reach their southern extent just north of Lake Okeechobee. South of this region, the overstory may contain a few tropical species such as gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba) and satinleaf (Chrysophyllum oliviforme). Water oak (Q. nigra) and laurel oak (Q. hemisphaerica) may also be frequent in this community. Other than pignut hickory, only a few deciduous species such as sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) are found in the canopy and subcanopy layers. Pine trees, particularly slash pine (Pinus elliottii) or loblolly pine (P. taeda), may form a sparse emergent layer.

Sinkholes are cylindrical or steep-sided conical depressions that are generally formed by the slumping of soil into subterranean cavities or the solution of limestone near the surface. They are common in areas of karst terrain where the underlying limestone is riddled with solution cavities. Although they may exist within most natural communities across Florida, which has more sinkholes than any other state, they are most often associated with hardwood forest communities such as mesic hammock and upland hardwood forest in the Florida Panhandle and peninsula, or rockland hammock in extreme South Florida. Sinkhole vegetation is highly variable and usually influenced by the matrix community in which the sinkhole develops.

Rockland Hammock
Rockland hammock is a rich tropical hardwood forest on upland sites in areas where limestone is very near the surface and often exposed. Typical canopy and subcanopy species include, gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba), false tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum), pigeon plum (Coccoloba diversifolia), false mastic (Sideroxylon foetidissimum), strangler fig (Ficus aurea), Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia piscipula), lancewood (Ocotea coriacea), milkbark (Drypetes diversifolia), paradisetree (Simarouba glauca), willow bustic (Sideroxylon salicifolium), black ironwood (Krugiodendron ferreum), inkwood (Exothea paniculata), live oak (Quercus virginiana), poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum), and West Indies mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni).

Slope Forest
Slope forest is a well-developed, closed canopy forest of upland hardwoods on steep slopes, bluffs, and in sheltered ravines within the Apalachicola River drainage. The mostly deciduous canopy commonly includes American beech (Fagus grandifolia), Florida maple (Acer saccharum ssp. floridanum), white oak (Quercus alba), tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Shumard’s oak (Q. shumardii), white ash (Fraxinus americana), black oak (Q. velutina). Several evergreen species are common as well, including southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), spruce pine (Pinus glabra), live oak (Q. virginiana), and laurel oak (Q. hemisphaerica).

Upland Hardwood Forest
Upland hardwood forest is a well-developed, closed-canopy forest dominated by deciduous hardwood trees on mesic soils in areas sheltered from fire.Characteristic canopy trees include southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Florida maple (Acer saccharum ssp. floridanum), live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Q. hemisphaerica), swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii), southern hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), white ash (Fraxinus americana), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Species commonly found in Florida Panhandle and northern peninsula but not farther south include American beech (Fagus grandifolia), white oak (Q. alba), and spruce pine (Pinus glabra).

Xeric Hammock
Xeric hammock is an evergreen forest on well-drained sandy soils. The low canopy is more or less closed and dominated by sand live oak (Quercus geminata), although Chapman’s oak (Q. chapmanii), turkey oak (Q. laevis), bluejack oak (Q. incana), sand post oak (Q. margaretta), and laurel oak (Q. hemisphaerica) may also be common. An emergent canopy of pine, either sand pine (Pinus clausa), slash pine (P. elliottii), or longleaf pine (P. palustris), may be present.

Source: Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida, 2010 Edition