Nearly all of South Carolina was covered with forests through the late 17th century, and today 66 percent of the state’s total land area is forested. Both hardwoods and softwoods occur, but pines dominate where mixed hardwoods prevailed in earlier times. More than 90 percent of all forest land is in privately owned units, ranging in size from small farm woodlots to vast tracts of woodland.
Southern conifers, especially loblolly pine and longleaf pine, predominate in the forests of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. There are also extensive tracts of second growth oak and hickory. Bald cypress, pond cypress, and pond pine are conspicuous in swampy areas of the coastal plain.
In the poorly drained areas along some of the rivers of the Atlantic Coastal Plain are found hardwood species of cottonwood, magnolia, elm, sycamore, gum, and oak. A distinctive feature of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, whose origin remains unknown, is the Carolina bays, elliptically shaped depressions whose axes run generally northwest-southeast. Their swampy interiors are characterized by magnolia, red bay, cypress, and tupelo trees. The cabbage palmetto, which is the state tree, and the live oak, which is characteristically draped in a gray-green mantle of Spanish moss, occur along the coast.
In the Piedmont region, southern conifers are also the dominant species.
The shortleaf pine is the principal native tree, although the loblolly pine is the dominant species because of intentional planting and its growth on former agricultural lands. There are also several varieties of maple, as well as oak, hickory, elm, and ash in mixed pine and hardwood forests, although considerable stands of loblolly pine have been planted by foresters across the Piedmont. In the Blue Ridge region, oaks and hickories predominate, but there are also stands of white pine, Virginia pine, and hemlock. Wildflowers and flowering shrubs grow in abundance during spring, summer, and fall. The yellow jessamine, the state flower, is a common flowering vine that grows profusely throughout the state, as does the flowering dogwood. In the mountain regions are found the mountain laurel, also known as kalmia, and varieties of rhododendron. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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