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scrubby-flatwoods.jpgScrubby Flatwoods

Scrubby flatwoods is an upland community similar to mesic flatwoods in structure but with a higher cover of scrub oaks.  It occurs in the transitional areas between scrub and mesic flatwoods. Scrubby flatwoods naturally burn less frequently than mesic flatwoods but more often than scrub. On the WEA, the vegetation is a combination of scrub and mesic flatwoods species. The canopy is typically scattered slash pine and the tall shrub layer is sand live oak and Chapman’s oak. The short shrub layer is generally a dense cover of sand live oak, Chapman’s oak, myrtle oak, saw palmetto, scrub palmetto, rusty lyonia, staggerbush, and tarflower. Other common shrubs include fetterbush, shiny blueberry, and gopher apple. Herbaceous cover within the scrubby flatwoods is sparse to moderate. Wiregrass may be present but is not a dominant species. The Royce Unit has a long and narrow strip of scrubby flatwoods on the west side.

 

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Scrub

Scrub occurs on deep, well-drained white and yellow sands. Two types of scrub are found on the WEA: oak scrub and rosemary scrub. Both are fire dependent, although the interval between fires may range from 10 to more than 100 years. Oak scrub has moderate to dense growth of sand pine with lack of fire. The understory is a thick combination of scrub oaks, rusty lyonia and silkbay. Rosemary scrub is dominated by scrub rosemary and scrub oaks. Rosemary scrub is usually found as small islands within larger areas of scrubby flatwoods. Many scrub endemic plants such as Highlands scrub St. Johns wort, scrub blazing star and Ashe's savory are found in rosemary scrub.

 

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Mesic Flatwoods

Mesic flatwoods is an upland forest with an open pine canopy and understory composed of varying mixtures of shrubs and grasses. Within the WEA, mesic flatwoods often grade downslope into wet flatwoods and upslope into scrubby flatwoods. Mesic flatwoods typically have a canopy of slash pine, a shrub layer with saw palmetto, and an herbaceous cover with wiregrass. Longleaf pine may form the canopy in limited areas. Other shrubs may include live oak, myrtle oak, runner oak, common gallberry, fetterbush, shiny blueberry, huckleberry, wax myrtle and tarflower. Many flowering herbs contribute to the diversity of this community.

 

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Wet Flatwoods

Wet flatwoods is a forest of relatively open scattered pine canopy, a sparse understory and a dense groundcover of hydrophytic herbs and shrubs, or a thick shrubby understory and a sparse groundcover. On the WEA, wet flatwoods is found in two phases: the cutthroat phase and the gallberry palmetto phase. In the wet flatwoods-cutthroat phase, cutthroat grass dominates the groundcover. On the Royce Unit, areas of solid cutthroat grass form a uniform blanket over the ground beneath a canopy of slash pine. Only a few shrubs of highbush blueberry, Darrow's Blueberry and maleberry are present. The wet flatwoods-gallberry palmetto phase typically occurs around depression marshes and next to baygall. The typical vegetation is a canopy of slash pine over dense saw palmetto, gallberry, and fetterbush, and a sparse herbaceous groundcover of cinnamon fern. 

 

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Baygall

Baygall is characterized by dense stands of evergreen trees and shrubs that occur in depressions or seepage areas where groundwater is at or near the surface for long periods of time. Although most baygalls are small in acreage, some form large, mature forests. On the WEA, bayygall generally supports a dense canopy of loblolly bay, sweet bay, and slash pine. The percentage of each species varies greatly by site, with some having all loblolly bay or all sweet bay or a mixture of the two. Some locations have a high percentage of slash pine and others have none. Swamp bay and dahoon holly are usually in the subcanopy and shrub layers along with younger trees of the other two bay species. Wax myrtle and fetterbush are the dominant shrubs, with highbush blueberry and Virginia willow less common. Saw palmetto also may be present. The herbaceous groundcover frequently includes Virginia chain fern, netted chain fern, sawtooth fern, cinnamon fern, green arum, and sphagnum moss.

 

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Depression Marshes

In depression marshes on the WEA, a canopy is generally absent, but may include an occasional slash pine. The shrub layer is typically sparse but may reach significant coverage depending on time elapsed since last fire. Wax myrtle, myrtle-leaved hypericum, and the listed Edison’s ascyrum are three of the most common shrubs. St. John’s wort occurs in a small percentage of marshes. Herb cover is high and usually dominated by grasses. The composition of the vegetation varies greatly with location and depth of the depression. Some depression marshes have many species while others have low diversity. The periphery often has some combination of the listed cutthroatgrass, sand cordgrass, blue maidencane, and broom grass. The middle zone typically has maidencane, broom grass and Virginia chain fern. In some cases, a deeper zone of white water lily, and/or pickerelweed may occur in the center. Other herbs in depression marshes may include big carpetgrass, dog fennel, flat-topped goldenrod, redroot, plume grass, spadeleaf, yellow-eyed grasses and various sedges. Depression marshes often burn with the surrounding landscape, and are seasonally inundated. 



FWC Facts:
Ospreys, also known as "fish hawks," are expert anglers that like to hover above the water, locate their prey and then swoop down for the capture with talons extended.

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