Native Plant Communities


Community Variants: Oak Scrub, Rosemany Scrub or Rosemary Balds, Sand Pine Scrub, Scrubby Sandhill

Scrubs occur in all Florida climates (temperate, peninsular, subtropical) on old dunes with deep fine sand soils that are excessively drained. This is a fire-dependent community with a fire occurrence of 20-80 years. Scrub is in a sense fire-resistant, but when a burn occurs, it is typically hot.

Scrub is characterized by sand pine and/or scrub oaks and/or rosemary and lichens. Scrubs are often subcategorized on the basis of the dominant species (sand pine scrub, oak scrub, rosemary scrub. Scrubs of the central ridge (Lake Wales Ridge) are among the oldest plant communities in North America and are home to high numbers of endemic and rare species.

Scrub supports many endemic plant species a high proportion of which are rare.  Endemics include scrub milkweed (Asclepias curtissii), Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides), garberia (Garberia heterophylla), scrub rockrose (Helianthemum nashii), scrub holly (Ilex opaca var. arenicola), nodding pinweed (Lechea cernua), scrub hickory (Carya floridana), scrub palm (Sabal etonia), and sand pine (Pinus clausa).  Some 45 plant species have been listed as endangered or threatened by the USFWS.  Most occur in the scrubs of the central ridges.  Rare species include Eryngium cuneifolium, florida gayfeather (Liatris ohlingerae), 4-petal pawpaw (Asimina tetramera), sandlace (Polygonum dentoceras), and Florida goldenaster (Chrysopsis floridana). There are also very rare species associated with sites that are well described as scrubby sandhill including several perennial Dicerandra species and Florida zizaphus.

Good examples of ancient scrub occur on the Lake Wales Ridge (Archbold Biological Station, Lake June-in-Winter State Park, Highlands Hammock State Park, Lake Marion State Forest, Ocala National Forest, Bill Frederick Park in Orlando, and others in central Florida.  High quality coastal scrubs occur in the panhandle (such as at Topsail Hill State Park) and near the east coast of Florida such as Johnathan Dickinson State Park.  



Scrubs (yellow).  Mapping modified from a scrub map by the Archbold Biological Station, 2011.


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.

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

Duever, Linda. 1983 (August). Florida's Natural Communities: Inland Sand Ridges. The Palmetto 3, #3:1-3, 10.

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

Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) and Florida Department of Natural Resources. 1990. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL.

Laessle, A.M. 1958. The origin and successional relationship of sandhill vegetation and sand-pine scrub. Ecological Monographs 28:361-387.

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

USDA Soil Conservation Service. 1986. 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 0000-00-00 00:00:00


Rosemary scrub on the Lake Wales Ridge.


Oak scrub at Archbold Biological Station.