Prior Prevalence of Shortleaf Pine-Oak-Hickory Woodlands in the Tallahassee Red Hills


Andre F. Clewell

Additional Authors:


Dec 2013


Apalachee, climax, ecotone, longleaf pine, magnolia-beech, mesophication, Tallahassee Red Hills, Tall Timbers

ABSTRACT Shortleaf pine-oak-hickory woodlands provided the principal vegetation cover in the Tallahassee Red Hills prior to land clearing for plantation agriculture in the 19th century. Ample historical documentation and extant remnants of that community, including old-growth, support this conclusion. This woodland was maintained by surface fires and consisted principally of open stands of shortleaf pine, post oak, Spanish oak, black oak, mockernut hickory, and dogwood. The speciesdiverse and predominantly herbaceous ground cover was dominated by grasses, legumes, and composites. Coppice sprouting of trees and shrubs after fires was common. In the absence of fire, shortleaf pine-oak-hickory woodlands convert to oak-hickory forest with similar tree species composition and loss of herbaceous species. Within the past 130 years, nearly all stands of shortleaf pine-oak-hickory woodlands and oak-hickory forests have been extirpated or compromised beyond recognition by intrusions of offsite tree species that are typical of moist soils at less elevated landscape positions.