Skip to content

Tree Tuesday: Oaks of the Hammock

There was some synchronous discussion during a *hammock* ecosystem reference in one of my recent posts … I’m so accustomed to these habitats, that I forget to detail their wonderful qualities!

From the National Park Service’s perfectly phrased definition of a hardwood hammock on their Everglades page:

A hardwood hammock is a dense stand of broad-leafed trees that grow on a natural rise of only a few inches in elevation. Hammocks can be found nestled in most all other Everglades ecosystems. In the deeper sloughs and marshes, the seasonal flow of water helps give these hammocks a distinct aerial teardrop shape.

Many tropical species such as mahogany (Swietenia mahogoni), gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba), and cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco) grow alongside the more familiar temperate species of live oak (Quercus virginiana), red maple (Acer rubum), and hackberry (Celtis laevigata). This diverse assemblage of plant life supports an equally diverse array of wildlife.

Because of their slight elevation, hammocks rarely flood. Acids from decaying plants dissolve the limestone around each tree island, creating a natural moat that protects the hammock plants from fire. Shaded from the sun by the tall trees, ferns and airplants thrive in the moisture-laden air of these hammocks.

Here’s one of my favorite hammocks — an oak hammock of the Florida Trail, leading towards Jonathan Dickinson State Park from Indiantown Road in Jupiter. There are several types of hammock ecosystems in Floridahardwood, palm, tropical hardwood — but this is a live oak (hardwood) hammock, more common inland.

To say it’s incredibly lovely does not do it justice — how can you not feel protected by, and protective towards, these ancient, sheltering giants?

Oak Trees of the Florida Trail, Jonathan Dickinson

Oak Trees / Hammock of the Florida Trail

 

63 Comments Post a comment
  1. Beautiful! Priceless! Let’s keep all we have! 🙂

    January 22, 2013
    • Aren’t they incredibly gorgeous…? I can’t fathom NOT having these magnificent, sheltering beings.

      January 22, 2013
      • They truly are. We don’t need to cut down these treasures. Instead, slowly let some more grow!

        January 22, 2013
      • DITTO! That’s exactly what I did, in my little yard… Saved up for a Live Oak. 🙂

        Grow, baby, grow!

        January 22, 2013
      • It’s fun to watch them grow! Here’s where it’ll be fun if we really do reincarnate! 🙂

        January 22, 2013
      • Hahaha! GREAT POINT! No worries, I’ll be watching and guarding from above, regardless…. 🙂

        January 23, 2013
      • That sounds cool! 🙂

        January 23, 2013
  2. Beautiful capture!! I love oak trees….
    Happy Tree Tuesday! 🙂

    January 22, 2013
    • Thanks so very much!! I love, love, love our Live Oaks — I would sit under them for hours, if it weren’t for the hiking. 🙂

      Happy Tree Tuesday to you, too!!

      January 22, 2013
  3. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Another beautiful post at Serenity Spell! Everyone thinks of palms and beaches in Florida but for me the Oak Hammock is what I think of as being most essentially here, home, Florida. I think they are some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

    January 22, 2013
  4. Pam #

    Hammocks are so special. Many people who have lived in Florida a long time still don’t know about them.

    January 22, 2013
    • They really are… Ecosystems that must be preserved, because of all the wildlife they support!! And you’re very right — many, even fellow Native Floridians I know, don’t know about hammocks or these special and beautiful places. It was actually one of the guiding forces of me starting this blog, in the first place… 🙂

      January 22, 2013
      • Pam #

        That is wonderful! 🙂

        January 22, 2013
  5. jimbey #

    I don’t remember where, but I saw a reference that claims that these “tree islands” were called “hammocks” by early explorers, because they knew that there would be dry ground and plenty of sturdy trunks that could be used to string up hammocks — in other words, a safe place to camp. Maybe latter day expeditions would name them “KOAs” or something. :-/

    January 22, 2013
    • You know, that’s vaguely ringing a bell… Either I read it somewhere, or someone told me. I wonder how true it is? This hammock is more inland, bordered by a lovely watering hole (SO incredibly lovely — those pics will be next!). No tree islands nearby. But that would make sense, the naming…. Because I would call ’em canopies.

      January 22, 2013
      • jimbey #

        The hammock itself created that watering hole. The acidic runoff from the hammock dissolves the limestone, resulting in nice (relatively) deep moats that protect the hammock from wild fire. It is good for the gators, too.

        January 22, 2013
      • Well, that makes sense. I need you to edit my stuff before it gets published!! Copy and paste it for when it’s ready… 🙂

        Oddly, as many times as I’ve been here, not one gator visit. Coyote, deer, turtle, bobcat — but no gator!

        January 22, 2013
      • jimbey #

        Now you are (rightly) making fun of me. I just re-read your post. Duh! I’m quoting you to yourself! I ran across the info when I googled marsh wildfire. I was curious how hammocks with older trees seem to survive when our massive grass fires sweep the glades.
        Know why you rarely see gators around hammocks these days? This may be wrong, but I heard that it’s because gators are lazy. No really. Gators were hunted in FL to near extinction; but they’ve come back strong in recent years. Life is easier on the canals and lakes and sloughs, so that’s where they flourished.

        January 22, 2013
      • Heh… Was it in the section I copied from NPS’ page on the Everglades? Interesting, though — you’re right, these older trees always do seem to survive (at least judging by the burns). Ah, learn something new….

        Well, that makes sense! When I make it to the Everglades (south section), I do sometimes see them in the hammocks, but not often — far more often in the lakes and sloughs. They’re not stupid.

        January 23, 2013
  6. Thank you for revealing this marvelous ecosystem.

    January 22, 2013
    • You’re so very welcome… It’s far and above one of my favorites, and the trees are just magnificent!

      January 22, 2013
  7. Gorgeous shot! Happy tree Tuesday!!

    January 22, 2013
    • Thanks so much! I love this area… It’s completely sublime. 🙂

      Happy Tree Tuesday to you!!

      January 22, 2013
  8. “Hammock” is such a perfect name for this islands. I grew up in south Florida- Miami Springs- and recall exploring the Everglades, seeing the manatees in our canals, and climbing the mango trees for a quick snack. So beautiful and precious.

    You are doing important work here- and expressing yourself with grace and eloquence.

    Thank you.

    Tom

    January 22, 2013
    • You’re incredibly kind… THANK you, a million times over.

      Since you know Florida, you know of its massive diversity — something that is imperative to protect. Where else, as you say, can you climb a tree and eat right there? 🙂 There’s such beauty all around, an array of ecosystems unique to this area. We must do our best to protect them all, and revitalize them.

      January 22, 2013
  9. Beautiful oak hammock. I love these old trees and their Spanish Moss. Happy Tree Tuesday.

    January 22, 2013
    • This hammock is especially beautiful and soothing for me…. The terrain is just fascinating. Within a mile it leads to swamp, and within a half-mile later: Dry prairie! Just fascinating.

      Happy Tree Tuesday to you!! 🙂

      January 22, 2013
  10. redravens@yahoo.com #

    Oaks I know and love but hammocks are new to this west coast girl. Yet another reason I need to visit Florida. The tear-drop shaped marshy hammocks sound especially intriguing. Thanks for sharing this.

    January 22, 2013
    • Ah, you must, you must! You’d be awed by their magnificence, their beauty — there are so many areas to explore to see these hammocks and their oaks (and other species), too. During this trip, we just caught the heinie of a coyote in the patch of tall grasses on the other side of these trees — these hammocks support so much wildlife!

      January 22, 2013
  11. Love the content rich post about hammock ecosystems. I can certainly see how you’d feel protected underneath these trees. Happy Tree Tuesday.

    January 22, 2013
    • Always…. There’s such a protective energy, a real physical presence (obviously!) to these magnificent trees. I just adore this space.

      Happy Tree Tuesday to you, as well!

      January 22, 2013
  12. This is wonderful! I particularly love and appreciate these stately giants!
    There are plans to widen the roadway outside our neighborhood which would involve cutting down many of these trees along the way. We are extremely upset about that.
    It’s actually supposed to be against the law to cut down these tress but when the govt. gets involved, well all normal laws get thrown out the window. 😦

    January 22, 2013
    • GASP…. GASP!

      Is there anyone you can call….? Has anyone tried, yet? I know it’s tough, but you’re right — I, too, thought it was against the law for these trees, past a certain point!!

      January 22, 2013
      • They have actually held public meetings about the road widening project and the county and state govt. position is basically, too bad, that’s what we need to do so tough luck for the trees. Not good.

        January 22, 2013
      • I’ve heard many similar stories… The very same government that lays down the laws about certain (environmental, etc.) protections will suddenly throw them out to suit their fancy. It’s appalling. Just spoke with someone in the megalopolis that is now Fairfax Cty, where they fought the good fight over similar battles. Sigh.

        January 23, 2013
    • Phil, you may have missed this post about our town saving a historic oak from a road widening project. There was one in Lafayette, Louisiana, too. The people raised such a stink they finally backed off. If there are legal restrictions, it seems as though someone with standing ought to be able to ask for a restraining order.

      January 23, 2013
      • Hoorah for raising a stink to protect these wonders!! I’m checking out the post, too…. 🙂

        January 23, 2013
      • Another part of the problem is that it’s not just one tree. There are many along the roadway, also much landscaped property and wetlands areas. They plan to widen a two lane small town road into a five lane expressway. Crazy and unnecessary. Parts of the road will come right up to residents back or front doors. Somebody must be making a lot of money off of this, it’s the only explaination for the madness.

        January 23, 2013
      • Egads. You’re right… This sounds like developers run amok. Ripping apart nature, terrorizing the homeowners: and is it truly necessary? Bullying doesn’t even begin to describe it. I wonder if anyone’s tried to go to the papers…?

        January 23, 2013
  13. Magnificent!

    January 22, 2013
    • They truly are… So very hard to leave them, no matter how exhausted I may be! 🙂

      January 22, 2013
  14. Birds from the Caribbean #

    Very nice landscape with the arch!

    January 22, 2013
    • This is one of my favorite sections, where the old live oaks make a wonderful arch / tunnel!!

      January 23, 2013
  15. Love the beautiful oak trees with spanish moss. You captured them so beautifully. Miss them – but not the humidity! 🙂

    January 22, 2013
    • Ah, thank you!! I love this part of the Florida Trail… You would love it here now, it’s absolutely gorgeous! I hear you guys are getting blasted, though! FOUR degrees (well, a bit north)… What? What?

      January 23, 2013
      • I’m so friggin cold ! My knees lock up when riding, but it is all good so long as I stay out of the wind. You get acclimated over the years. Thankfully no snow to deal with.

        January 23, 2013
      • you are ONE BRAVE AND STRONG woman!!! i’d be hiding under the covers….

        January 23, 2013
  16. I’ve always loved the vibe I get from trees. Very old, wise, steady, humble, yet dignified. Your picture looks like a scene right off of a fantasy movie! Pretty 🙂

    January 23, 2013
    • Very well said….! Thank you so much. You’re exactly right; such wonderful vibes, such tremendous energy comes from trees. I’ve always felt that. Here’s to protecting and loving them as much as we possibly can!! 🙂

      January 23, 2013
  17. I was especially interested to learn there are different sorts of hammocks. And now I’m wondering if they aren’t a sort of parallel to the oak cheniers in Louisiana. Those, too, are raised ridges along the coast that are populated with trees, palmettos, etc. More research is required!

    January 23, 2013
    • Ah, I’m sure they’re related! It’s interesting to walk through our different hammocks… I’ll be sure to post more images of the various types. I should have done so already, heh!! 🙂

      January 23, 2013
  18. hannekekoop #

    Oh, what a wonderful place to be. 🙂

    January 23, 2013
    • It TRULY is…. Your fairies are all around, I’m sure of it!! 🙂

      January 23, 2013
  19. marialla #

    AH, THE MIGHTY OAK – HOW I LOVE HER!!!!

    January 23, 2013
    • Ditto, ditto, and DITTO! Such a glorious, magnificent creature. I never want to leave them….

      January 23, 2013
      • marialla #

        I UNDERSTAND YOU!!

        January 23, 2013
  20. The silence of a hammock, the smells of dry leaves and composting soil, the comfort provided by the shade, the feeling of well-being it provides……..nature at its finest.

    Thank you for a really good and informative post.

    –Wally

    January 23, 2013
    • Thanks so much! For anyone living in Florida (Native Floridians especially), we know and love our hammocks. 🙂 But sadly, I know many Native Floridians who don’t know them — highlighting the greater importance of protecting these amazing ecosystems. The trees, the sheltering comfort, all the wildlife… You can’t beat it, can you?

      January 23, 2013
  21. beautifullyrenewed #

    I just found your blog and am so glad I did! Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures and wonderful information. I have lived on the west coast my whole life, and these gorgeous pictures and info and such a treat! I will be back and reading more of your posts!

    January 27, 2013
    • Ah, I’m so thrilled — thanks so much! I’m glad to share a bit about our unique land with you… I was an Army Brat growing up, and spent some time out West too. 🙂 I miss it!!!

      January 28, 2013
  22. I always learn something new visiting your naturalist blog. I grew up on an island in the Pacific NW with oaks and madrona trees. In fact, the oaks are so important now on the island that it is illegal to chop them down.

    February 19, 2013
    • Ah, thanks so much!! 🙂

      Wow, how interesting… I’d love to see pictures of those special oaks!! Thank goodness they’re now *finally* being protected. Sheesh. I bet they’re huuuuge.

      February 20, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Practical Use of Parachute Hammock in Camping | Adler Stock Photography

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: