Florida Land Cover Classification Descriptors

The U.S. National Vegetation Classification System Hierarchy Level

Additional information necessary to understand this classification.

Class Descriptions

1 Background: This class represents marine areas and land outside of the classification
2 Open water: All fresh water bodies without vegetation or with submerged aquatic species and no emergents.



Semi-deciduous Tropical/Subtropical Swamp Forest: This class represents semi-deciduous forested swamps of south Florida. In large strand swamps, such as Fakahatchee Strand, dominant canopy species include baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), royal palm (Roystonea elata), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), and red maple (Acer rubrum). Included within this class are communities known as South Florida Bayhead Forest. These low stature swamps are also referred to as bayhead forest and tree island. They contain an assemblage of temperate and tropical species including: Annona glabra, Magnolia virginiana, and Persea palustris
4 Xeric-Mesic Live Oak Ecological Complex: This complex is predominantly live oak (Quercus virginiana) and sand live oak (Quercus geminata) found in areas with hydrologic conditions varying from mesic to xeric.
5 Mesic-Hydric Live Oak/ Sabal Palm Ecological Complex: This class is generally a coastal live oak (Quercus virginiana) and sabal palm (Sabal palmetto). It generally is found on mesic to hydric sites. The hydric sites may be analogous to hydric hammocks
6 Bay/Gum/Cypress Ecological Complex: This class represents forested communities containing combinations of bay (Gordonia lasianthus, Magnolia virginiana, Persea palustris), gum (Nyssa spp.), and cypress (Taxodium spp.). Due the difficulty of spectral differentiation of communities containing these species a broad more general class was created. The order of species in the class name does not represent the order of dominance.
7 Loblolly Bay Forest: This class is dominated by Gordonia lasianthus.
8 Cajeput Forest Compositional Group: This class represents both forest and woodland Melaleuca quinquenervia community types.
9 Mixed Mangrove Forest Formation: This formation is a "catch all" for mangrove forest types containing the three mangrove species in varying levels of dominance. The class generally represents mangrove forest found inland of the fringe. Dominance is generally shared by white and black mangrove with occasional red mangrove.
10 Black Mangrove Forest: This forest is generally pure black mangrove.
11 Red Mangrove Forest: This forest tends to found as patches embedded in Mixed Mangrove Forest Formation, higher energy islands, and forest fringes greater than 30 m wide.
12 Casuarina Compositional Complex: Casuarina forest and woodland were combined in this class.
13 South Florida Slash Pine Forest: This is an exclusively south Florida pine forest type. The forest is dominated by Pinus elliottii var. densa and tends to be found on sand in the northern part of it's range and limestone rock in the south part. This forest tends to have reduced canopy coverage compared to north Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii).
14 Sand Pine Forest: Forest dominated by sand pine (Pinus clausa). No attempt was made to differentiate between Pinus clausa var. clausa and Pinus clausa var. immuginata. These forests are found on dry, sand ridges in the interior and along the coast.
15 Mesic-Xeric Mixed Pine/Oak/Hickory Forest Ecological Complex: This complex represents mesic to xeric mixed pine/oak/hickory forest. The dominant species may include varying levels of Pinus elliottii, P. palustris, P. taeda, Quercus falcata, Q. hemisphaerica, Q. virginiana, Carya glabra, and C. tomentosa. These species are not exclusive dominants for this class, but they were observed frequently during ground-truthing
16 Mesic-Hydric Pine Forest Compositional Group: This class represents multiple pine forest types. The variation found among forest types is dependent on slightly varying moisture conditions. The dominant pine type in the class tends to be slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii) flatwoods. Classes were combined because of the difficulty in differentiating pine types from satellite data.
17 Swamp Forest Compositional Group: This class represents deciduous and evergreen swamp forests of north and central Florida. Classes were consolidated because LANDSAT satellite data from phenologically varying times (leaf on vs. leaf off) was not available. Leaf on or leaf off data were commonly available for adjacent scenes. The resulting classifications tended to consistently detect broad-leaved dominated swamp forest, but not differentiate deciduous from evergreen. This class may contain measurable, but not dominant amounts of cypress (Taxodium spp.). The class may contain some of the same species and species combinations as class 6 (Bay/Gum/Cypress Forest Ecological Complex). The Bay/Gum/Cypress forest was treated as a separate class because it is common to north Florida and was detectable using LANDSAT data and our classification techniques. Contrast with class 7 Loblolly Bay forest, in which this type of evergreen swamp was separable.
18 Cypress Forest Compositional Group: This class represents cypress communities dominated by Taxodium ascendens and T. distichum. These communities include cypress domes (T. ascendens), and river and lake fringes (T. distichum). Confusion associated with this class may include overlap with pines and cypress/gum ponds within the pine flatwoods in which they all occur.
19 Mixed Evergreen-Cold-deciduous Hardwood Forest: The mixed evergreen/cold-deciduous forest varies in species composition across northern Florida. The eastern component is dominated by various oaks and hickory, including Quercus hemispherica, Q. virginiana and Carya glabra. The western component is dominated by beech (Fagus grandifolia) and southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). The community is known by various names including, southern mesic hardwood forest and upland hardwood forest.
20 Buttonwood Woodland: This class represents buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) woodland of south Florida. These communities are usually found inland and adjacent to the mangrove zone over marl soils or on exposed limestone rock.
21 Mixed Mangrove Woodland: The mixed mangrove woodlands in our map are generally the result of hurricane Andrew in August 1992. The forest species are the same as the mixed mangrove forest, but canopy coverage has been reduced to 25-60%.
22 Black Mangrove Woodland: Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) with canopy coverage 25-60%.
23 Red Mangrove Woodland: Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) with canopy coverage 25-60%.
24 Live Oak Woodland: Live oak (Quercus virginiana) woodlands are usually found along the coast on sand or shell deposits. In our map they can also occur as isolated patches within pasture areas.
25 South Florida Slash Pine Woodland: This class represents open, generally low stature south Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) stands on marl, sand or rock. Understory usually is graminoid and occasional dwarf cypress (Taxodium ascendens) may be present.
26 Sandhill Ecological Complex: Sandhill ecosystems are characterized by longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), a few xeriphytic oaks (Quercus incana, Q. geminata, Q. laevis), and a wiregrass/sporobolus understory on sand. Tree cover is generally 25-60%.
27 Broad-leaved Evergreen and Mixed Evergeen/Cold-deciduous Shrubland Compositional Group: This class serves as a "catch-all" for many evergreen and mixed evergreen/cold-deciduous shrub communities that were obviously present, but difficult or impossible to differentiate. As it is used in this map this class tends to be mesic to hydric. More specific classes (e.g. Flooded/Saturated Broad-leaved Evergreen Shrubland Ecological Complex, Dry Prairie, Gallberry/Saw Palmetto Shrubland, Dwarf Mangrove) have been identified for this map and are treated as subsets of this class within the vegetation classification system.
28 Flooded/Saturated Broad-leaved Evergreen/Mixed Evergreen-Cold deciduous Shrubland Compositional Group: This class represents communities dominated by broad-leaved evergreen species. Representative species include fetterbush (Lyonia lucida) in north Florida and cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco) in south Florida. This class also includes a freshwater variant of the red mangrove dwarf shrubland. In freshwater areas red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and cocoplum (C. icaco) are often found together.
29 Dry Prairie Ecological Complex: In Florida dry prairies are sparsely wooded savannas with dominance by a mosaic of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and grasses (Aristida spp., Sporobolus spp., and Andropogon spp.)
30 Gallberry/Saw Palmetto Compositional Group: This class represents shrub and graminoid communities found in association with wet flatwoods. While similar to the dry prairie class it tends to be wetter and have a greater dominance by shrubs. Gallberry (Ilex glabra and I. coriacea), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), and titi (Cyrilla racemosa and Cliftonia monophylla) are representative species. This community may be an early phase of pine regeneration or it may have a more permanent status (see Apalachicola National Forest for examples).
31 Brazilian Pepper Shrubland: The exotic shrub Schinus terebinthifolius dominates this community in dense, monospecific stands. This community is generally found in south Florida and along both coasts further north to central Florida.
32 Dwarf Mangrove Ecological Complex: This complex represents shrub mangroves, regardless of dominance by the three mangrove species. The largest stands are found in south Florida in areas with marl dominated soils and in areas with standing freshwater near the coast. The community is also found in the Indian River Lagoon.
33 Coastal Strand: This is a coastal dune, shrub dominated community. Dominance in north Florida by saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) is common. In southern Florida, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) remains common and sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) becomes a more prominent community member.
34 Groundsel-tree/Marsh Elder Tidal Shrubland: The groundsel-tree (Baccharis halimifolia)/Marsh-Elder (Borrichia frutescens) is an open, coastal community found at slightly higher elevation than the high salt marsh. It is often transitional to upland communities, such as, Live Oak/Sabal Palm forest.
35 Xeric Scrubland: This class represents broad-leaved shrublands on inland sand and coastal dune ridges. It is dominated by various scrubby oaks and other xeriphytic species, such as, Quercus chapmanii, Q. geminata, Q. inopina, Q. myrtifolia, Ceratiola ericoides, and Lyonia ferruginea. Scattered sand pine (Pinus clausa), longleaf pine (P.palustris), and slash pine (rarely P. elliottii var. elliottii in the north and commonly P. elliottii var. densa in the south) may be found in the scrub.
36 St. Johns Wort Shrubland Compositional Group: These are shrub communities often found in isolated, small, acid wetlands. St. Johns Wort may cover the entire wetland or only inhabit the fringe of deeper water bodies.
37 Saturated-Flooded Cold-deciduous shrubland Ecological Complex: This class represents shrub wetlands dominated by willow (Salix spp.), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), river birch (Betula nigra), and/or hazel alder (Alnus serrulata). These species share the same habitat in some but not all cases. River birch and hazel alder are northern species, while willow and buttonbush are found throughout the state. In some areas, especially in south Florida, willow and buttonbush may inhabit areas with high proportions of cattail (Typha spp.).
38 Saltwort/ Glasswort Ecological Complex: The Saltwort (Batis maritima)/Glasswort (Salicornia spp.) complex represents saltwort and/or glasswort. These communities vary geographically from pure stands of either species to mixed stands. The communities are found in association, but inland of salt marsh in northern Florida. In south Florida they are found on marl and limestone near the coast in association with mangroves and buttonwood.
39 Graminoid Dry Prairie Ecological Complex: This class was generally used to describe coastal graminoid communities found on the landward side of dunes. Muhlenbergia spp., and Eragrostis spp. are representative species.
40 Sea Oats Dune Grassland: Vegetated coastal dunes near beaches are generally dominated by a cover of sea oats (Uniola paniculata), other grasses (Panicum spp., Sporobolus spp), forbs (Sesuvium portulacastrum), and vines (Ipomoea pes-caprae).
41 Wiregrass Grassland: Wiregrass (Aristida spp.) communities are repesented here. These grasslands may also contain significant proportions of Sporobolus spp. which are spectrally indistinguishable from Aristida spp..
42 Graminoid Emergent Marsh Compositional Group: This class represents freshwater graminoid marshes that cannot be distinguished to the specific level.
43 Sawgrass Marsh: Freshwater marshes dominated by sawgrass (Cladium mariscus var. jamaicense). This community is found throughout Florida. It is found most extensively in the Everglades of south Florida. In the remainder of Florida it is found in small isolated wetlands and at the mouths of many rivers.
44 Spikerush Marsh: Freshwater marshes dominated by spikerush (Eleocharis spp.). This community is found throughout Florida. It is found most extensively in the Everglades of south Florida, often in association with more open areas known as wet prairies. In the remainder of Florida it is found in small isolated wetlands.
45 Muhly Grass Marsh: Muhly prairies in south Florida are dominated by Muhlenbergia filipes and are generally found on marl soils with a relatively short hydroperiod. Muhlenbergia spp. are also found on dry coastal sands and shells and may be confused with marshes under dry conditions.
46 Cattail Marsh Compositional Group: This class represents southern cattail (Typha domingensis) and common cattail (T. latifolia). Southern cattail is found primarily in southern Florida and common cattail in northern Florida. Both species can be found together anywhere in the state.
47 Salt Marsh Ecological Complex: This class represents salt water graminoid marshes that cannot be distinguished to the specific level.
48 Sand Cordgrass Grassland: Sand cordgrass (Spartina bakeri) tends to be found along the coast in the interface between salt marsh and the adjacent upland. It also is found in patches along rivers and in some inland upland sites.
49 Black needle Rush Marsh: This class represents black needle rush (Juncus roemerianus). This is the most widespread of the salt marsh communities.
50 Saltmarsh Cordgrass Marsh: This class represents saltmarsh cordgrass marsh (Spartina alterniflora). This communities is found most extensively in northern Florida.
51 Saltmeadow Cordgrass/Salt Grass Salt Marsh: Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Spartina patens)/Salt Grass (Distichlis spicata) Salt Marsh is a high salt marsh often containing Baccharis halimifolia and Myrica cerifera shrubs.
52 Sparsely Wooded Wet Prairie Compositional Group: This represents communities with a graminoid or forb wetland understory and a sparse wooded overstory. The class may include dwarf or tree size cypress (Taxodium ascendens), pine (Pinus spp.), or other wetland adapted trees.
53 Dwarf Cypress Prairie: This class is prominent in south Florida. It is dominated by graminoids (e.g. Muhlenbergia filipes, Rhynchospora spp. ) with a very sparse pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) shrub overstory.
54 Temperate Wet Prairie: These are wetland communties dominated by graminoids, forbs and hydrophyllic species.
55 Maidencane Marsh: Maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) marsh is represented by this class. The community is found throughout Florida as a lake fringing marsh and in south Florida in prominent large patches in the Everglades. The community may not be detected when found around lakes when the marsh is to narrow.
56 Forb Emergent Marsh: This class represents emergent marsh containing "flag" species, such as Pontederia cordata, Sagittaria lancifolia, and Thalia geniculata.
57 Water lily or Floating Leaved Vegetation: This class represents water lily and floating leaves species such as, Eichhornia crassipes, Hydrocotyle spp., Nuphar luteum, Nymphaea odorata, and Nymphoides aquatica. While different ecologically, the water lilies (Nuphar luteum, Nymphaea odorata, and Nymphoides aquatica) and floating leaved species (Eichhornia crassipes and Hydrocotyle spp.) are difficult to distinguish spectrally due to the high water content of their respective environments. Nevertheless, large patches will tend to be water lily dominated, while small patches and fringing communities will be dominated by floating leaved species.
58 Periphyton: This class represents periphyton, an aggregate of calcareous algae. It covers the greatest area and is most obvious in south Florida.
59 Sand, Beach: This class represents unvegetated sand and beach.
60 Bare soil/Clearcut: Disturbed sites and recent clearcuts generally have a large proportion of area in exposed sand. They appear similar spectrally and are difficult to differentiate. As a result, some agricultural fields and recently developed residential sites may be confused with clearcuts.
61 Pavement, Roadside: As one might expect these are transportation corridors including both the pavement and associated cultivated roadside.
62 Urban: This class represents predominantly commercial urban areas.
63 Urban Residential: Urban residential is as it seems
64 Urban Open/Others: This class represents the open areas and unknown urban uses.
65 Agriculture: Row crops, farm roads, and structures are found under this class.
66 Pasture/Grassland/Agriculture: This class represents pasture, grassland, and some agriculture. The difficulty of differentiating grassland and some forms of agriculture (e.g. hay) from pasture using spectral data has resulted in this lumped class. The class appears to be primarily pasture, although some overlap with sandhill and other open, graminoid type communities may have occurred.
67 Ag/Groves/Ornamental: This class represents orchards (e.g. pecan, peach, pear) and groves (e.g. Citrus).
68 Ag/Confined Feeding Operation/ Specialty Farms: This represents cattle feetlots and dairy farms.
69 Extractive: This class represents mined areas, including phosphate and sand mines.
70 Recreation
71 Cloud: Yes, it happens clouds creep into a coverage and cannot be removed.