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Xeric Hammock - (synonyms: xeric forest, sand hammock, live oak forest, oak woodland, oak hammock).
Xeric Hammock is characterized as either a scrubby, dense, low canopy forest with little understory other than palmetto, or a multi-storied forest of tall trees with an open or closed canopy. Several gradations between these extremes exist. Typical plants include live oak, sand live oak, laurel oak, turkey oak, blackjack oak, red oak, sand post oak, staggerbush, saw palmetto, sparkleberry, pignut hickory, southern magnolia, redbay, American holly, wild olive, black cherry, fox grape, beautyberry, bluejack oak, Chapman's oak, persimmon, and yaupon. Typical animals include barking treefrog, spadefoot toad, gopher tortoise, worm lizard, fence lizard, black racer, red rat snake, hognose snake, crowned snake, screech-owl, turkey, blue jay, eastern mole, gray squirrel, and eastern flying squirrel.
Xeric Hammock is an advanced successional stage of Scrub or Sandhill. The variation in vegetation structure is predominantly due to the original community from which it developed. In all cases, however, the soils consist primarily of deep, excessively-drained sands that were derived from old dune systems. The sparsity of herbs and the relatively incombustible oak litter preclude most fires from invading Xeric Hammock. When fire does occur, it is nearly always catastrophic and may revert Xeric Hammock into another community type. Xeric Hammock only develops on sites that have been protected from fire for 30 or more years.
Xeric Hammocks are often associated with and grade into Scrub, Sandhill, Upland Mixed Forest or Slope Forest. The species composition of Xeric Hammock is also often similar to Prairie Hammock and Maritime Hammock. Xeric Hammock is often considered the climax community on sandy uplands.
Xeric Hammock occurs generally as isolated patches that rarely cover extensive areas. Mature examples are rare, and scrub derived types have always been scarce. Because of its general location on high ground with big trees, Xeric Hammock is prime residential property, especially when near the coast. Remaining tracts of Xeric Hammock require protection from fire and development.