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Upland Mixed Forest

Upland Hardwood Forest and Upland Mixed Forest - (synonyms: mesic hammock,
climax hardwoods, upland hardwoods, beech-magnolia climax, oak-magnolia climax, pine-oakhickory association, southern mixed hardwoods, clay hills hammocks, Piedmont forest).

Upland Hardwood Forests and Upland Mixed Forests are characterized as well-developed, closedcanopy forests of upland hardwoods on rolling hills. These communities have quite similar physical environments and share many species, including southern magnolia, pignut hickory, sweetgum, Florida maple, devil's walking stick, American hornbeam, redbud, flowering dogwood, Carolina holly, American holly, eastern hophornbeam, spruce pine, loblolly pine, live oak, and swamp chestnut oak, among others. The primary difference between these communities is that Upland Mixed Forests generally lack shortleaf pine, American beech and other more northern species that typically occur in Upland Hardwood Forests. This is predominantly a result of minor climatic differences, Upland Hardwood Forests being most common in northern panhandle Florida, and Upland Mixed Forests being most common in northern and central peninsula Florida. Other typical plants include gum bumelia, hackberry, persimmon, red cedar, red mulberry, wild olive, redbay, laurel cherry, black cherry, bluff oak, water oak, cabbage palm, basswood, winged elm, Florida elm, sparkleberry, Hercules' club, slippery elm, beautyberry, partridgeberry, sarsaparilla vine, greenbrier, trilliums, beech drops, passion flower, bedstraw, strawberry bush, silverbell, caric sedges, fringe tree, horse sugar, white oak, and blackgum. Typical animals include slimy salamander, Cope's gray treefrog, bronze frog, box turtle, eastern glass lizard, green anole, broadhead skink, ground skink, red-bellied snake, gray rat snake, rough
green snake, coral snake, woodcock, barred owl, pileated woodpecker, shrews, eastern mole, gray squirrel, wood rat, cotton mouse, gray fox, and white-tailed deer.

Upland Hardwood and Mixed Forests occur on rolling hills that often have limestone or
phosphatic rock near the surface and occasionally as outcrops. Soils are generally sandy-clays or clayey sands with substantial organic and often calcareous components. The topography and clayey soils increase surface water runoff, although this is counterbalanced by the moisture retention properties of clays and by the often thick layer of leaf mulch which helps conserve soil moisture and create decidedly mesic conditions. Furthermore, the canopy is densely closed, except during winter in areas where deciduous trees predominate. Thus, air movement and light penetration are generally low, making the humidity high and relatively constant. Because of these conditions Upland Hardwood and Mixed Forests rarely burn.

Upland Hardwood Forests and Upland Mixed Forests are climax communities for their
respective geographic locations. They are often associated with and grade into Upland Pine Forest, Slope Forest or Xeric Hammock. Occasionally, Upland Mixed Forests may also grade into Maritime Hammock or Prairie Hammock. During early stages of succession, Upland Hardwood and Mixed Forest may be difficult to distinguish from Upland Pine Forests that have not been burned for several years. Disturbed sites may require hundreds of years to reach full development with species compositions representative of climax conditions.

Silvicultural, agricultural, industrial, and residential developments have already eliminated the vast bulk of these communities. These activities are continuing at an accelerated pace in many areas, such that the few remnant mature examples are in urgent need of protection and proper management.

  • Source: Florida Natural Areas Inventory and Florida Dept. of Natural Resources. 1990. Guide to the natural communities of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory and Florida Dept. of Natural Resources, Tallahassee, FL. iv, 111 p.

Copyright 2000-2009, Ordway-Swisher Biological Station
Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, University of Florida
 Gainesville, FL 32611