Native Plant Communities

Mesic Hardwoods

Synonyms: Mesic Hammock, Piedmont Forest, Beech-Magnolia Forest
Community Variants: Slope Forest, Second Bottom

Mesic hammocks are mesic forests typically associated with moderate to steep slopes in ravines, uplands adjacent to rivers, and other areas protected from fire; soils range from sandy to clayey.

Typical overstory species include southern magnolia, beech, spruce pine, Shumard oak, Florida maple, and other hardwoods.

In Florida, mesic hammocks are associated with rare species including some early spring bloomers that appear before the deciduous trees leaf out.  Many are associated with plant communities found further north.  Some of these include trout lily (Erythronium umbellatum), blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis), several trilliums, and columbine.  Flame azalea is found in the panhandle.

Good places to find this plant community include Florida Caverns State Park, Three Rivers State Park, and  Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (the Nature Conservancy). 



Batista, W.B., and W.J. Platt. 1997. An old-growth definition for southern mixed hardwood forests. General Technical Report SRS-9. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Southern Research Station, Asheville, North Carolina.

Clewell, A.F. 1986. Natural setting and vegetation of the Florida Panhandle - An account of the environments and plant communities of northern Florida west of the Suwannee River. Report No. COESAM/PDEI-86/001. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Alabama.

Daubenmire, R. 1990. The Magnolia grandiflora-Quercus virginiana forest of Florida. American Midland Naturalist 123:331-347.

Delcourt, H.R., and P.A. Delcourt. 1977. Presettlement magnolia-beech climax of the Gulf Coastal Plain: quantitative evidence from the Apalachicola River Bluffs, North-Central Florida. Ecology 58:1085-1093.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 1992. Soil and Water Relationships of Florida's Ecological Communities

Duever, Linda. 1988 (Summer). Florida's Natural Communities: Mesic Hammock. The Palmetto 8, #2:4-5.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). 2010. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL.

Knight, G. R., J. B. Oetting, and L. Cross.  2011.  Atlas of Florida's Natural Heritage - Biodiversity, Landscapes, Stewardship and Opportunities:  Institute of Science and Public Affairs, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

Myers, R.L. and J.J. Ewel (eds.). 1990. Ecosystems of Florida University of Central Florida Press: Orlando.

Outcalt, K.W. 1997. An old-growth definition for tropical and subtropical forests in Florida. General Technical Report SRS-013. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, North Carolina.

USDA Soil Conservation Service. 198_. 26 Ecological Communities of Florida.

Whitney, E.N., D. B. Means, A. Rudloe. 2004. Priceless Florida: Natural Ecosystems and Native Species. Pineapple Press.

Date Updated 2020-05-18 12:18:28


Beech-magnolia forest near upper limit of slope.  Photo from Torreya State Park by Shirley Denton.


Mesic hammock at Flat Island Preserve.  By Shirley Denton.