Platt Branch - Natural Communities

photo of pine flatwoods
Longleaf pine flatwoods

Flatwoods cover 68 percent of Platt Branch and mesic flatwoods dominate this classification. These old-growth longleaf pines, with their understory of palmetto and wiregrass, are at the southern limit of their range. Few examples of this habitat remain in southern Florida. Another major flatwoods community is called "cutthroat grass seep," a wetter habitat associated with seepage slopes and drainage swales from surrounding ridges. Restricted to just a few counties in central Florida, cutthroat grass grows beneath slash pine.

Scrub communities occur in well-drained sandy soils and include oak scrub, scrubby flatwoods, sand pine scrub, and xeric hammock. Generally, these plant communities feature longleaf pine or sand pine in the canopy, sand live oak, myrtle oak, and Chapman's oak in the midstory and a relatively open understory. In the scrub oak habitat, an understory of lichens and a midstory of rosemary, rusty lyonia, scrub hickory and scrub palm is typical.

The two dominant wetland types found here are freshwater marsh and cypress swamp. Maidencane, St. John's wort, sawgrass, pickerelweed and water lilies characterize the marshes. The cypress swamps, which border Fisheating Creek and Platt Branch, have scattered bald cypress, black gums, red maples and cabbage palms with an understory of ferns, sparse sawgrass and other wetland grasses and sedges.

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FWC Facts:
When the weather is very cold, a group of bluebirds, and several other bird species, will occasionally roost together in a nest cavity for warmth.

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