Wooded or forested areas occupy just 3 percent of the state’s total land area. Most of these areas are in the Black Hills National Forest. Ponderosa pine, spruce, aspen, and birch are the principal tree species of the Black Hills area, with ponderosa pine accounting for about 90 percent of the national forest. Elsewhere in the state, cottonwood trees are found along the Missouri and other rivers. A large variety of deciduous and coniferous trees are found in shelter belts throughout the state. Flowering plants found in the lake region of the northeast include the wild rose, buttercup, primrose, pink beard-tongue, blazing star, violet, and yellow violet. In other eastern areas are found the blackeyed Susan and wild orange geranium.
On the plateau west of the Missouri grow the gumbo lily, the yucca, and a yellow-blossomed cactus. In the Black Hills are found the iris, wood orchid, bluebell, yellow lady’s slipper, larkspur, prickly poppy, and Mariposa lily.
The most productive soils in South Dakota are chernozems (or black earth soils), which cover most of the state east of the Coteau du Missouri. These soils are dark brown to black in color and are rich in humus, or organic matter. Chestnut soils predominate in the rest of South Dakota except for the Black Hills. Less rich in humus than the chernozems, the chestnut soils are characteristically dark brown to dark grayish brown at the surface and grade downward to a light gray or white subsoil at about two feet below the surface.
Grazing is the predominant activity on the chestnut soils, especially in areas of deficient rainfall, but good crops of wheat are often obtained in years of greater-than-average rainfall. Less suitable for cultivation are the gray wooded soil of the Black Hills and the immature soils, or lithosols, which cover parts of southwestern and south central South Dakota. "South Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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