Found along the natural ridges of relict distributaries (bayous) and on cheniers (former beach ridges) near the coast, upland forests are characterized mostly by their tree canopy, sub-canopy, and shrub layer.
The upland forest floor receives very little sunlight requiring the species along the forest floor to be very shade tolerant. Much of these formerly vast forests were cleared for agricultural and urban development long ago as they represented the highest ground available. This “highest ground” was the last place to flood during periods of heavy rainfall or strong southerly winds. Historically, upland forests also dominated many of the barrier islands that exist today.