Branan Field- More About Habitats
The pine flatwoods community covers over 80 percent of Branan Field and consists of mesic flatwoods on higher, drier portions of the property and wet flatwoods that occur in transitions between mesic flatwoods and wetlands. Mesic flatwoods in the northern part of the site are more representative of the mesic flatwoods habitat type because of their history of only moderate past disturbance and more frequent prescribed burning. Groundcover is diverse and features plants such as wiregrass, saw palmetto, gopher apple, pawpaw, tarflower, gallberry and runner oak beneath a canopy of slash and longleaf pines. Some wet flatwoods may have historically been wet prairies that were planted in, or were invaded by pine trees. Wet flatwoods that have had a history of less frequent prescribed burning have a dense shrub layer of red maple, myrtle dahoon, wax myrtle, swamp bay and laurel oak. Dome swamps, depression marshes and basin swamps occur in association with the wet flatwoods.
Sandhills consist of an open to sparse canopy of slash pine and longleaf pine, with a variety of oaks (laurel, turkey, bluejack and sand post oaks). The shrub layer includes small oaks as well as pawpaw, gopher apple, saw palmetto and shiny blueberry. The herbaceous layer is abundant and diverse because of regular prescribed burning and the lack of historical ground disturbance.
Two basin swamps at Branan Field have nearly closed canopies of mature slash pine and pond cypress, with a sub-canopy of red maple, swamp tupelo and pond cypress. Red maple, myrtle dahoon, wax myrtle, swamp bay, fetterbush, and a variety of grasses, sedges and rushes characterize the shrub and herbaceous layers. A large ditch along the edge of the northern basin swamp substantially affects the hydroperiod of this swamp and the surrounding communities.
Several dome swamps occur at Branan Field. Typically, they have a canopy and sub-canopy of slash pine, pond cypress, red maple and swamp tupelo. Myrtle dahoon, fetterbush, wax myrtle, common persimmon and gallberry are common shrubs. The dense groundcover includes a variety of grasses, sedges and ferns.