Hammocks are well-developed evergreen hardwood and palm forests, which grow on soils that are rarely inundated. They often occur as “islands” of high ground within wetland habitats. Soils are sandy and mixed with organic matter from leaf litter.
Although hammocks are not generally considered a type of fire-adapted community, some may experience occasional low-intensity ground fires. The canopy is typically closed and dominated by Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) and Laurel Oak (Q. hemisphaerica), often with interspersed Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto). A few Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii) trees may also be present. The shrubby understory may be dense or open and is typically comprised of species such as Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), American holly (Ilex opaca), Hog Plum (Ximenia americana), and Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera). Tropical shrubs such as Simpson’s Stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans), Myrsine (Rapanea punctata), and Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa) are common in southern hammocks.
Ground cover is mostly oak leaf litter, but there may be sparse patches of different grasses (Poaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae) present. Abundant epiphytes live on the oaks and palms are a characteristic feature of these hammocks and include Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides), various Tilandsia air-plants (Tillandsia spp.), Resurrection Fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides var. michauxiana), and Shoestring Fern (Vittaria lineata).
Commonly found wildlife in hammock habitats includes Black Bears (Ursus americanus), Florida Panthers (Puma concolor), Bobcats (Lynx rufus), Pigmy Rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius), Florida Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina), Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus), and Barred Owls (Strix varia).