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Vegetation in Massachusetts


Vegetation of Massachusetts
Vegetation of Massachusetts

Originally almost all of Massachusetts was covered with forests. Early colonists began clearing the land for farms and pasture as soon as they arrived. By the 1830s and 1840s only about one-fifth of the state was forested. Currently the share of the state once again covered by forest has climbed to 63 percent. Most of the forestland is privately owned. The forests of Massachusetts are in a transition zone.

Forests in Massachusetts


Broadleaf deciduous forests predominate to the south and at lower elevations, but they gradually shift into mixed forests with more coniferous evergreens as latitude or elevation increases. The most dominant trees of the deciduous forests are beech, birch, and maple, but cherry, hickory, red cedar, and oak are also common. Coniferous trees such as white pine and hemlocks are found throughout the state, and spruce are found mainly to the north and at higher elevations, but some conifers may be found scattered throughout the deciduous forest. Pitch pines and scrub oaks are found in the southeast. The American elm, which is the state tree, was formerly a common shade tree in many towns but has been decimated by Dutch elm disease.

The forest floor in Massachusetts contains ferns, such as asmundas and maidenhair spleenworts. Areas near the sea have marsh grasses, sedges, and rushes. Marshy areas have such plants as the skunk cabbage, marsh marigold, white violet, and blue violet. Flowering shrubs on the forest floor or in open areas include the dogwood, azalea, rhodora, sweet fern, mountain laurel, wild cherry, and trailing arbutus, or mayflower, which is the state flower. Wildflowers include the violet, bloodroot, troutlilly, and goldenrod. "Massachusetts" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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