Current condition:  Poor and declining
According to the best available GIS information at this time,

  • 337,458 acres (136,564 ha) of Scrub habitat exist, of which
    • 76% (257,015 ac; 104,010 ha) are in existing protected or managed areas.
    • 3% (11,311 ac; 4,577 ha) are in Florida Forever projects,
    • 4% (14,031 ac; 5,678 ha) are in SHCA-designated lands.
    • 16% (55,101 ac; 22,299 ha) are other private lands

Habitat Description

This habitat occurs on areas of deep, well-drained, infertile sandy soils that are typically white or near white.  Scrub has a patchy distribution and occurs in both inland and coastal areas, from the panhandle through subtropical regions of the peninsula.  The largest and most important patches of Scrub occur along the central ridge of the peninsula near Ocala and in Polk and Highlands counties.  This habitat is fire-dependent; it is maintained by fires that are usually very hot or intense, but occur infrequently at intervals of 10-20 years, or more. 

Generally, Scrub is dominated by evergreen oaks and/or Florida rosemary. A relatively large suite of plant species is endemic to Scrub (e.g., scrub holly and inopina oak, several species of mint); the rarest endemic plant species are restricted to the Lake Wales Ridge (e.g., pygmy fringe tree and scrub plum). Sand pine is often present in Scrub to varying degrees depending on a site's fire history. Scrub is dominated by shrub species which may include myrtle oak, Chapman's oak, sand-live oak, inopina oak, scrub holly, scrub plum, scrub hickory, rosemary, scrub palmetto, and saw palmetto. A scrub variant, Rosemary Scrub has few or no sand pines or scrub oaks but is dominated by rosemary with scattered lichen cover, scrub hypericum, and paper nailwort. Scrubby Flatwoods, addressed in the Natural Pineland chapter, differs from Scrub by having a sparse canopy of slash pine and some shrubs and herbaceous species characteristic of mesic flatwoods. Additionally, many temporary wetlands are found throughout the Scrub landscape and are an integral part of this habitat type, providing breeding and foraging habitat for many wildlife species. Some species of wildlife also are endemic or largely restricted to Scrub habitats (e.g., Florida scrub-jay and many invertebrate species).

Download the Scrub chapter from the Action Plan.

Visit the Internet Mapping Service (IMS) website to explore detailed, interactive maps of all FWLI habitat categories.

What is being done to conserve Scrub?

Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative supports several projects designed to improve the quality of its 2 priority terrestrial habitats: scrub and sandhill.  These 2 habitats can be difficult to manage, especially when natural fires are suppressed and large quantities of fuel accumulate.  To safely manage these potentially dangerous areas and prevent wildfires, interagency groups formed ecosystem support teams (fire teams) to work in areas with needs for assistance during difficult burns.

In the Florida Peninsula, the Central Florida Ecosystem Support Team works to help restore and maintain scrub and other natural communities. A new team focusing on both scrub and sandhill formed in the summer of 2008 in Northeast Florida. These two ecosystem support teams are managed by The Nature Conservancy, an organization with an excellent reputation for land management.

Another Legacy-supported project that benefits scrub is the Common Species Common program within the FWC's Landowner Assistance Program, which provides incentives to private landowners to restore habitat focusing on key uplands around the state.


Featured project: The Lake Wales Ridge Prescribed Fire Strike Team

The Lake Wales Ridge includes important habitats such as scrub and sandhill and supports a suite of wildlife species, several of which have been identified as species in need of conservation in the State Wildlife Action Plan. Many of the species that occur in the uplands are fire dependent, and lightning-ignited landscape fires historically provided optimal habitat conditions for wildlife. The Initiative has helped support The Lake Wales Ridge Prescribed Fire Strike Team, an interagency project coordinated by The Nature Conservancy. This project deploys an ecosystem-wide fire strike team to restore habitat on conservation areas. The team works in concert with local conservation managers, who must provide their own burn bosses, fire management plans, burn unit plans and a partial burn crew for each burn on their property. This project is just one of many ways The Initiative is taking action within the state. The Initiative is committed to leveraging funds for conservation and working with partners for a better Florida.

View Scrub Project Posters

Additional current and recent projects being done by a variety of conservation partners to restore and maintain scrub habitat include:

For more information, please contact Heather Hitt.

What wildlife species will benefit?


Scrub Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Mammals Birds Amphibians
Reptiles Invertebrates View All

FWC Facts:
Florida is a peninsula, which contributes to the number of invasive species affecting our ecosystem.

Learn More at AskFWC