Native Plant Communities

Pine Rockland

Pine rockland is found in subtropicalclimate zones. It occurs at elevations 3 to 8 feet above mean sea level.  Pine Rockland is characterized by an exposed limestone substrate often with solution holes and usually underlain by a freshwater lens.   (   It is mesic to xeric.  Fire is frequent. Other disturbances include hurricane winds, and in some cases, rare inundation by salt water during storm surges.

Typical vegetation consists of south Florida slash pine, palms such as thatch palms, and subtropical hardwoods.  The groundcover is and mixed grasses, herbs, herbs and low shrubs including pineland noseburn and Christmas berry.  Pine rockland has the highest plant diversity of all plant communities in the Florida Keys. A total of 250 species of plants has been identified in the pine rocklands of south Florida and the Lower Keys.  Many are rare (Bradley and Gann 1999).

Exellent examples occur in the Everglades national Parkand on Big Pine Key in the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.  


Bradley, K., and G. Gann. 1999. The pine rockland forests of southern Florida. The Palmetto 19:12-19.

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

Duever, Linda. 1984 (April). Florida's Natural Communities: Rocklands. The Palmetto 4, #2:8-11.

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

Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley, and S.W. Woodmansee. 2009. Floristic Inventory of South Florida Database. Institute for Regional Conservation.

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.

Loope, L.L., D.W. Black, S. Black, and G.N. Avery. 1979. Distribution and abundance of flora in limestone rockland pine forests of southeastern Florida. South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida.

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

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 2020-05-17 11:49:18


Pine rockland. Big Pine Key National Wildlife Refuge, Monroe County by Shirley Denton.  This photo was taken the year after Big Pine Key was hit by a major hurricane.