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Upland Pine Forest

upland-pine-forest.jpg Upland pine occurs on most of the Big Pine Tract and the northern section of the Nature Center Tract. Much of the upland area is covered by old-growth longleaf pines, the same pines that once towered over a diverse layer of wiregrass and other low-growing vegetation typical of the longleaf pine flatwoods that once covered much of the southeastern United States. Prior to state ownership, fire was excluded from Chinsegut’s habitats, which allowed the hardwoods and woody shrubs present today to become established and shade out grasses. However, another transformation is underway as biologists apply prescribed fire and other management techniques to restore this habitat to historical conditions.

 

Sandhill

sandhill.jpg Sandhills occur on rolling hills with deep, often yellowish, well-drained sands. At Chinsegut, this community type is found on the south end of the Conservation Center Tract and as small areas within the more extensive upland pine communities. The mature canopy of longleaf pine has a midstory of sand live oak, turkey oak, bluejack oak and sand post oak. The open shrub layer includes sparkleberry, deerberry and gopher apple. Grasses such as wiregrass and bluestem grass, as well as milkpea, blue lupine and wild buckwheat comprise the diverse herbaceous layer.

 

Mesic Hammock

mesic-hammock.jpg Mesic hammock grows along the edges of basin marshes. The canopy of live oak, sweetgum and laurel oak has an understory that is often solid saw palmetto. The sparse ground layer may have occasional clumps of grasses such as panicum. A particularly diverse mesic hammock at the northeastern corner of May’s Prairie, has species such as parsley hawthorn, narrow blue-eyed grass, Walter’s viburnum and a small population of the state-listed Treat’s rain lily.

 

Basin Marsh

basin-marsh.jpg Basin marshes are large, irregularly shaped depressions. Vegetation types vary depending on water depth and fire frequency. At the Conservation Center Tract, the basin marsh known as May’s Prairie has open water in the center and emergent vegetation such as maidencane and buttonbush on the edges. The shoreline is comprised of wax myrtle and dahoon holly. The north end, in particular, is covered by bald cypress that was planted in the 1930s. Water lily grows in open water areas. On the Big Pine Tract, three basin marshes are covered by a thicket of Carolina willow and buttonbush. Small areas of basin swamp occur along the margins of basin marsh.



FWC Facts:
Whooping cranes, the tallest of North American birds, stand nearly 5 feet tall. Their wingspan measures between 7 and 8 feet.

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