Florida’s hardwood forests are often dominated by large oaks, the most impressive of which are southern live oaks, frequently covered with Spanish moss and other air plants. Other species of oaks as well as sweetgums, hickories, dogwoods, magnolias, hollies, and other hardwoods grow where fires have not held them back. Hardwood-dominated forests of broad-leaved evergreens are called hammocks, a name that probably originated with the Indians. Cabbage palm, the state tree, is abundant in many hammocks.
Hammocks that grow on high ground have long been considered ideal home sites because they are well-drained, shaded, and beautiful. Consequently, most of Florida’s upland hammocks have been destroyed. Those that remain occur in a few state and national preserves. Large oaks grow in many towns, and native air plants such as bromeliads, resurrection ferns, and even wild orchids still grow on their horizontal limbs.
The hammocks of South Florida and the Keys are especially interesting because they contain tropical hardwoods and wildlife not found in other parts of the U.S. Conversationalists have been actively trying to protect our tropical hammocks before they are lost to development.