Bottomland hardwoods account for only a small portion of the floodplain, primarily on natural levees along river shores and within the swamp forest. These higher areas are usually only flooded for brief periods and not always every year. They support sweetgum, red maple, ash, spruce pine, laurel oak, water oak, water hickory, catalpa, and an understory of blue beech, cabbage palm, needle palm, American holly, and various grasses and sedges.
These regularly inundated wetlands form a forested border along the rivers, creeks, and lakes, and occur in depressions as circular domes or linear strands. These communities are strongly dominated by either bald cypress or pond cypress, with very low numbers of scattered black gum, red maple, and sweetbay. Understory and ground cover are usually sparse due to frequent flooding but sometimes include such species as buttonbush, lizard's-tail, and various ferns.
Slash and longleaf pine dominate smaller areas of pine flatwoods. The understory consists of gallberry, wiregrass and saw palmetto. These areas have previously been thinned and burned. Selective thinning will create openings that encourage existing longleaf pine regeneration. Frequent burning will keep these flatwoods open and grassy and promote the return of species such as the telephus spurge (Euphorbia telephioides), a federally threatened plant once found at Box-R.
The majority of the upland property consists of planted slash and loblolly pines, both young stands with trees that range in age from 6 to 14 years and older stands of timber that were planted 19 to 34 years ago. Commercial thinning, hydrologic restoration, and reintroduction of a natural fire regime will be required to restore the natural vegetative communities and to enhance wildlife habitat. Where appropriate flatwoods now planted with slash pine will eventually be reforested with longleaf pine.
Maritime hammocks are relatively wet hardwood forests found between uplands and true wetlands. Small areas of maritime hammock at Box-R consist of live oak, red maple, southern magnolia, cabbage palm and red cedar. Live oak and cabbage palm dominate the hydric hammocks located close to floodplain marsh habitats.
Tidal Freshwater Marsh and Estuarine Marsh
These fresh, brackish and saltwater marshes are some of the most productive systems in the world and are vital habitats for a variety of species. The marshes support vegetation consisting primarily of sawgrasses, bullrushes, cattails, cordgrasses, and needlerushes. Small hammocks and winding creeks are found in large areas of freshwater marsh, primarily sawgrass. Along these creeks and waterways are water tupelo, ogeechee gum, cypress, red maple, and ash. On the hammocks, diamond-leaf oak, cabbage palm, black gum, bay, and maple are common.