The South Florida Slash Pine (Pinus elliotti var. densa) is a variety of the Slash Pine (Pinus elliotti var. eilliotti) commonly found in northern and central Florida. The distribution of the South Florida Slash Pine is limited to the southern half of the peninsula. This impressive tree is drought tolerant and grows in a wide variety of soil conditions although it prefers dry sandy soils. It does not do well in inundated areas.
These trees have developed a number of adaptions allowing it to withstand and even take advantage of fire. The outer layer of bark is dry and loosely attached to the trunk (see picture below). During a fire this dead outer layer burns off leaving the inner live tissue untouched. In addition the branches and the photosynthetically active needles on these trees usually grow on the upper third of the tree where a fire will normally not reach them. Another adaptation is that the seed containing pine cones will open and disperse their seeds more readily after a fire.
The South Florida Slash Pine is the main component of the pine flatwoods ecosystem found in southern Florida. Over a thousand Slash Pines grow in the 40 acre Sandy Ridge Sanctuary in Coral Springs.
The southern variety is also known as the Dade County pine. The unusually dense and relatively sap free wood was commonly used by the early settlers of Dade County to build their log cabins.
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