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Vegetation of Minnesota


Vegetation of Minnesota
Vegetation of Minnesota

Soils in Minnesota vary across the state depending on their source. Soils in northeastern Minnesota are likely to be acidic, infertile, and spread thinly over the bedrock. However, more rich red soils composed of glacial till can also occur in some areas. Soils made rich from glacial till, some from the glacial Lake Agassiz, dominate the north central and central portion of the state. In southern Minnesota soils are typically very deep and fertile, having formed under prairie grass with ample organic matter in the glacial till. The southwest is much drier than the southeast, where the groundwater in some areas has dissolved depressions and caverns in the underlying limestone bedrock, creating what is known as karst topography.

The original natural vegetation in Minnesota was primarily of three types: northern coniferous forest, eastern deciduous forest, and tall grass prairie. In the northeast coniferous forests covered more than one-third of the state. This southern margin of the boreal forest typical of Canada extended almost as far south as Minneapolis and Saint Paul, through central Minnesota, and westward along the Canadian border toward the Red River Valley. Early logging removed valuable white pine and other conifers from this forest zone. In many places the original forest species have been replaced by birch, poplar and various species of scrub growth. The other two-thirds of the state, once distinguished by their vegetation, were cleared for agriculture long ago. A broadleaf deciduous forest, composed predominantly of oak, maple, elm, and basswood, occurred in a diagonal band running northwest to southeast across the state.

The narrow northwest end, dominated by hardwoods, opens into large stands of aspen and poplar. The forest band widens considerably as it reaches the southeastern portion of the state where red oak was once dominant. Minnesota maintains about 15,380 hectares (about 38,000 acres) of hardwood forests and woodlands in a southeastern state forest.

The south, west, and extreme northwest were once part of the great tall grass prairie. Less than 1 percent of undisturbed prairie lands, and only 50 percent of the original prairie pothole wetlands, remain in the state. Because of its deep and fertile soils, almost all of the tall grass prairie zone has been used for agriculture. "Minnesota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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