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South Florida Aquatic Environments

Hardwood Hammocks



NATIVE FLORA
Gumbo Limbo Tree
courtesy U.S. Geological Survey



Hardwood Hammocks:

Native Flora

  • Trees in hardwood hammocks rarely grow to more than 50' (15 m) due to inclement weather
The tallest trees in hardwood
hammocks, including the wild tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliqua) and gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba), rarely grow more than 50 feet (15 m) in height due to cold weather, lightning, and strong winds. Mature hammocks form dense canopies, shading the internal environment from strong sunlight and maintaining a high level of humidity. Ferns and mosses thrive along the ground within this environment while bromeliads and orchids grow along the trunks and branches of the hammock trees.

Epiphyte - Bromeliad
courtesy U.S. Geological Survey
Bromeliad Epiphyte


The midstory of the hammock is occuppied by smaller trees of the same species occurring in the canopy as well as some smaller tree species such as cinnamon bark (Canella winterana) and white stopper (Eugenia axillaris).

Wild Coffee
courtesy U.S. Geological Survey
Wild Coffee


Beneath the midstory lies the understory which includes saplings of some canopy species as well as shrubs such as wild coffee (Psychotria undata) and white indigoberry (Randia aculeata). Other vegetation types include woody shrubs and vines with groundcover being very limited due to the lack of sunlight reaching the ground.

Saw Palmetto
courtesy U.S. Geological Survey
Saw Palmetto


The outer edge of the hammock is densely wooded with vegetation requiring high levels of sunlight. This thick growth along the edges of the hammock maintains high humidity levels and cooler temperatures inside the hammock.

Species growing along the edges of hammocks include:
  • Bahama strongbark (Bourreria radula)
  • saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
  • fire bush (Hamelia patens)
  • sweet acacia (Acacia farnesiana)
  • Poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum)
  • seven-year apple (Genipa clusiifolia)

Posionwood
courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Posionwood

Sweet Acacia
© Keith Haworth
Sweet Acacia