Flatwoods are widespread throughout the Pensacola and surrounding area and are distinguished by their open longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and/or slash pine (Pinus elliottii) canopy, minimal topography, and diverse groundcover. Flatwoods communities are maintined by frequent (every few years) low-intensity groundfires that promote an exceptionally diverese groundcover layer. Additionally, flatwoods have acid, sandy soils. Many of the flatwoods in the Pensacola and surrounding areas are fire-supressed with minimal groundvoer that is shaded out due to a mid-story composed of shrubs. In areas with prolonged (several decades) encroached woody plants may reach the canopy. Here we describe scrubby flatwoods, mesic flatwoods, and wet flatwoods.
Xeric sandy soils. Distinguished by presence of scrub oaks including sand live oak (Quercus geminata), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), and Chapman’s oak (Quercus chapmanii) in conjuction with an overstory of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) or slash pine (Pinus elliottii). Groundcover includes wiregrass (Aristida beyrichiana), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), gopher apple (Geobalanus oblongifolius), wicky (Kalmia hirsuta), dwarf live oak (Quercus minima) and/or runner oak (Quercus pumila)
Mesic sandy soils. Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) or slash pine (Pinus elliottii) canopy and midstory of wiregrass (Aristida beyrichiana), Florida dropseed (Sporobolus floridanus), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), shiny blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites), and wicky (Kalmia hirsuta). Distinguished by dominance of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) in the understory, presence of groundcover oaks including dwarf live oak (Quercus minima) and runner oak (Quercus pumila), and occurence of deer tongue (Carphephorus odoratissimus)
Hydric sandy soils. Slash pine (Pinus elliottii) dominant in overstory with scattered bay trees including sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana) and swamp bay (Persea palustris) and variable hydrophytic shrubs and groundcover including inkberry (Ilex glabra), wiregrass (Aristida beyrichiana), Curtis' sandgrass (Calamovilfa curtissi), Chapman’s beakrush (Rhynchospora chapmanii), toothache grass (Ctenium aromaticum). Distinguished by dominance of slash pine and hydrophytic vegetation.