Forests in Kansas cover only 4 percent of the state. Much of the woodland is found along river and stream valleys, and tree growth is heaviest in the eastern part of the state. In addition, trees have been planted throughout the state as windbreaks.
Among the most common trees of eastern Kansas are the cottonwood, which is the state tree, species of oak, hickory, and elm, and black walnut, sycamore, box elder, green ash, and hackberry. Cottonwood, willow, and red cedar are the principal trees in western Kansas. The Osage orange is found in hedgerows in some areas of the state. The red cedar is the only conifer native to Kansas.
Before the middle of the 19th century grasslands covered most of Kansas. In the tallgrass prairie grasslands of the east the most common grasses were big bluestem, little bluestem, switchgrass, and Indian grass. In the dry shortgrass prairie of the west grew buffalo grass, blue grama, and little bluestem. Central Kansas was a transitional zone where tall and short grasses were mixed. During the second half of the 19th century much of the state’s vast grassland area was ploughed over as cultivation was extended throughout the state. The largest remnant is in the Flint Hills.
Kansas still has a great variety and abundance of wildflowers. The helianthus, or wild native sunflower, is the state flower. Other common wild flowers include the aster, prairie phlox, goldenrod, gayfeather, primrose, verbena, daisy, clover, and thistle.
Tumbleweed, a characteristic plant of the High Plains, occurs in western Kansas, and the prickly pear and yucca are most abundant in the driest parts of the area.
More than 1,800 species of flowering plants, conifers, and ferns occur in Kansas. Nearly 500 species have been introduced from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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