Did You Ever Wonder… about the word ‘hammock’ or ‘hummock’ in our local place names? - A tree in a forest - Lignumvitae Key

Sofia Figueredo, 9, tackled the challenge and this is what she wrote: 

What do you think of when you hear the word “hammock”? Do hardwood hammocks with trees come to mind, or do you think of a swinging bed for relaxation? No matter which one, you are in for a surprise! Hardwood hammocks are habitats that are found on higher grounds, making it a dry habitat (much like the Everglades pinelands).

Hardwood hammocks are mainly found in Florida. The trees in hardwood hammocks are grouped into “hardwoods.” They are often described as broad-leaved trees that grow well in the Everglades. To walk into one of these sun-dappled wonderlands is like walking into a shady tropical forest. The air temperature in one of these hammocks is much cooler than in the hot Florida sun. In fact, for that reason, the Native Americans living in the Everglades frequently stayed within the hammock habitats. If you happen to be in the Everglades on a hot day, you can cool off there, too!

You can also find tons of biodiversity in hardwood hammocks. Once you walk into the shady hammock, you’ll notice numerous species of plants. The gumbo limbo tree, also known as the Tourist Tree, is one of the most noticeable. It got its nickname because of its flaky bark which makes it look like a sunburned tourist. Other popular trees are the strangler fig and the pigeon plum. Strangler figs grow on trees and strangle them until they die – hence the name. The pigeon plum grows little plum-like fruits that are popular among various birds. 

Have you ever heard of “The Jewel of the Hammock”? If not, that’s okay. “The Jewel of the Hammock” is actually another name for a tree snail. 

In the past, many people would come to hardwood hammocks in search of these little beauties. Back then they would take them home to collect their shells. Because they are an endangered species, they are now protected. People still come to search for these snails but now only for taking a snapshot. Other fauna in hardwood hammocks include deer, opossums, raccoons and the endangered Florida panther.

As you can see, a walk through a hardwood hammock is a stellar way to learn about Florida’s diverse ecosystem. It should be obvious that wandering in hardwood hammocks can be even more relaxing than lying in “regular” hammocks.

My name is Sofia Figueredo. I am 9 years old and I’m a 5th grade student at Treasure Village Montessori. I live in Islamorada. I love to swim and I’m a member of the swimming club at Founders Park. I also like to play the piano and spend time on the water. Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question.

 A young girl in a pool of water - Water
Sofia Figueredo knows her hardwood hammock! ELIZABETH JOLIN/ Contributed

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