Pine rocklands

Pine rocklands

The pine rocklands were South Florida's dominant plant community, occupying about 186,000 acres (753 km²) in the Miami Rock Ridge, a large limestone outcrop that extends south from the Miami River to the Everglades National Park. Because of its high elevation, the Miami Rock Ridge was the first area to be impacted by development. The clearing of large tracts for development have now reduced the pine rocklands to about 20,000 acres (81 km²), most of which are now protected inside the Everglades National Park. The pine rockland community canopy is dominated almost exclusively by slash pines. Beneath this canopy lays a rich understory composed of grasses, sedges, palms, vines, and shrubs of temperate and tropical origin. The pine rockland community is South Florida’s most floristically diverse plant community and includes several endemic species. A subclimatic community, pine rocklands have depended on fire to keep them from transitioning into hardwood hammocks. Fire exclusion has resulted in many formerly pine rockland properties transitioning to hammock or becoming invaded by non-native invasive species, causing a net loss of biodiversity and the extinction or near extinction of several plant species.

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