Native Plant Communities

Xeric Hammock

Xeric hammock is a community type typically derived from sandhill, scrub, or scrubby flatwoods either by fire exclusion or an artificial fire regime based on winter burns. The absence of fire (or winter burn regime) allows the original ecosystem to be invaded by species usually associated with more mesic sites.  Winter burns were often accompanied by grazing, and cattle tend to avoid tough saw palmetto, often leading to an abundance of saw palmetto under the oaks.  

The typical xeric hammock has an overstory of sand live oak sometimes associated with sand post oak, turkey oak, pignut hickory, blackjack oak, and/or laurel oak.  There can be a sparse understory of sparkleberry and rusty lyonia. The ground may be have a dense cover of saw palmetto, or it can be more-or-less bare.  Sometime residual scrub or sandhill species such as gopher apple persist in openings.


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.

Guerin, D.N. 1993. Oak dome clonal structure and fire ecology in a Florida longleaf pine dominated community. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 120:107-114.

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.

Peet, R.K., and D.J. Allard. 1993. Longleaf pine vegetation of the southern Atlantic and eastern Gulf Coast regions: a preliminary classification. Pages 45-82 in S.M. Hermann, editor. The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem: Ecology, Restoration and Management. Proceedings of the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference, No. 23. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida.

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 2020-05-17 11:49:18


Xeric hammock in the Starkey Wilderness Area, Pasco County.  Photograph by Shirley Denton.


Xeric hammock in Ocala National Forest.  Rusty lyonia has nearly reached tree height.  Photograph by Shirley Denton.