Temperate Hardwood Forests

treeTemperate hardwood forests, or hammocks as they are often called in Florida, occur along the coastal plain of the southeastern U.S. from the Carolinas to eastern Texas.  Hammocks are typically narrow bands of vegetation, only a few hundred meters wide, confined to slopes between upland sandhill/clayhill pinelands and bottomland forests.  In Florida, the largest temperate hardwood communities occur near Brooksville, Gainesville, and Ocala.

In North Florida, mixed evergreen-deciduous hammocks contain the largest numbers of tree and shrub species per unit area in the continental U.S.

In South Florida, hammocks have a greater percentage of evergreen trees, primarily tropical species; as well as the largest numbers of epiphytic ferns, bromeliads, and orchids in the continental U.S. 

Soils

Florida hardwood hammocks are theoretically delineated according to soil moisture.  Hammocks are often designated as: 

  • Xeric - dry soil
  • Mesic - moderately moist soil
  • Hydric - wet soil

However, these forests are more often defined by their location and vegetation than by measures of soil moisture.

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Vegetation

Mr. Bill Casey, a forest scientist who earned his M.S. at the University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation, developed a useful table of the common trees in Florida hardwood forests.  View the table of common trees in Florida hardwood forests.

For more information on these and other trees and shrubs, see our Trees of Florida page.

Threatened or Endangered Plants

Shrubs:

  • needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

Herbaceous Plants and Vines:

  • auricled spleenwort (Asplenium auritum)
  • dwarf spleenwort (Asplenium pumilum)
  • sinkhole fern (Blechnum occidentale

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Fauna

Common wildlife species of hardwood hammocks include:

Mammals

  • racoon (Procyon lotor)
  • opossum (Didelphis virginiana)
  • southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans)
  • gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
  • gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
  • bobcat (Lynx rufus)
  • white-tailed deer (Odecoileus virginianus)
  • armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

Birds

  • cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
  • palm warbler (Dendroica palmarum)
  • ckuck-wills widow (Caprimulgus carolinensis)
  • bluejay (Cyanocitta cristata)
  • cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
  • great-crested flycatcher (Myarchus crinitus)
  • chickadee (Parus carolinensis)
  • rufous-sided towhee (Pipilo erthrophthalmus)
  • turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
  • summer tanager (Piranga rubra)
  • eastern phoebe (Savornis phoebe)
  • bluebird (Sialia sialis)
  • robin (Turdus migratorius)
  • mourning dove (Zenaida macroura)
  • tufted titmouse (Parus bicolor)
  • loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
  • eastern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
  • woodpeckers
  • wrens
  • owls

Threatened or Endangered Species

Mammals:

  • Florida panther (Felix concolor coryi)
  • Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus)

Reptiles:

  •  eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi)

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