Pine Flatwoods

Pine flatwoods represent the most extensive type of terrestrial ecosystem in Florida, covering approximately 50% of the natural land area in the state. These low-lying pine forests were formed by changes in the sea level during glacial times. As sea levels increased vast expanses of flat land were flooded and thick layers of sand were deposited on the land. As the sea levels receded early pioneer species such as pine trees were able to establish in the sandy soil.

Flatwoods, also called pine flats or pine barrens, once covered much of the land in Florida and had such open understories that it was said you could drive a wagon through them. While today's pine flatwoods are less extensive and have more shrubby groundcover, they still cover vast land areas and play an important role in Florida's natural environment and economy. Many valuable products come from pine flatwoods. The trees are cut and used as timber or pulp to make paper products. The sap, resins, and cellulose from the trees are used in the production of many everyday items such as soap, cosmetics, perfume, shampoo, chewing gum, rayon, icecream, varnish, and paint thinner.

For the contest...

Each year the contest takes on two ecosystems on a four-year rotation. At this station, when Pine Flatwoods is one of the featured ecosystems, contestants will

  • ID 4 tree or shrub species that are commonly found in each ecosystem. The four tree and shrub species contestants should know from Pine Flatwoods are:
    hawthorn
    gallberry
    flatwoods plum
    fetterbush
  • Answer multiple-choice questions about each ecosystem. To prepare, Juniors should read the Forest Story about adventures in each of their designated ecosystems. Intermediates should read the informative text about their designated ecosystems.