"Hammock" comes from a Native American language but nothing is known beyond that. The broad leaf trees -- hardwoods such as oak, maple, and hickory -- grow on land that is slightly higher in elevation than that surrounding it, where conifers, principally pines, flourish. The two types of trees require different environmental conditions. For instance, pines are naturally resistant to fire and, in fact, require it in order to clear away the underbrush and mulch that nurture young oaks but hinder the germination of pinde cones. Without periodic fires oaks tend to replace pines, enlarging the hammock. Park rangers now do controlled burns in order to ensure that the two ecosystems continue to coexist.
|The two words in the park's name are precisely descriptive of it. "Highlands" refers to what for Florida is high ground: the ridge that runs down the center of the peninsula. "Hammock" requires a bit more explanation, part of which is supplied by the sign below.|
A paved loop road and short walking trails take the visitor through the various ecosystems that comprise Highlands Hammock State Park.