Most of the soils of Rhode Island are classified as typic dystrochrepts. These soils, typically found in areas with cool and rainy climates, are generally acidic, but they can be made productive by the addition of lime and organic fertilizer. The soils of southeastern Rhode Island are generally deep and comparatively free of stone and gravel, making them the best agricultural soils in the state. Soils in the western part of Rhode Island are sandier and stonier in texture. Steep slopes and large boulders deposited by glaciers obstruct agriculture in many locations, particularly in the north and west.
While 53 percent of Rhode Island is forested, only a few areas possess stands of timber suitable for use as lumber, and the chief value of the forests is for recreation. The principal trees are deciduous, and their leaves take on magnificent fall colors for a short period in October.
White, black, scarlet, and scrub oaks are among the most common trees, and ash, hickory, elm, sassafras, willow, birch, and American beech are also found. The state tree is the red maple, which is found in wet areas of the state. Coniferous trees in the state include white pine, eastern hemlock, pitch pine, and red cedar.
Common wildflowers include the violet, which is the state flower, and daisies, bloodroots, trilliums, lilies, jack-in-the-pulpits, hepaticas, and the trailing arbutus. Asters, goldenrods, blue gentians, irises, and pimpernels are also found. Flowering dogwoods, rhododendrons, and mountain laurels color many wooded areas in spring, and the red berries of the American holly add a touch of color to the winter scene.
Although white-tailed deer are considered Rhode Island’s only large wild animal, moose and black bear occasionally cross the Connecticut and Massachusetts border in the state. Among the smaller animals native to the state are the raccoon, gray squirrel, woodchuck, and muskrat. Skunks, opossums, mink, coyotes, and red foxes are also numerous, as are salamanders, turtles, and snakes. About 350 different species of birds have been observed in the state. Many are seasonal residents or transients who visit during their spring and fall migrations along the Atlantic Flyway. Along the coastal areas are various species of ducks, gulls, herons, rail, geese, cormorants, and terns. In some areas, shearwaters, petrels, gannets, and other seabirds have been observed. Common in the inland areas are the red-tailed hawk, osprey, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, bobwhite, ruffed grouse, robin, catbird, and various kinds of warblers.
The wild turkey has been successfully reintroduced to the state and is common in the western half. Block Island is frequented by large numbers of migratory birds. The Rhode Island Red breed of chicken was developed at Little Compton in 1854 and is the state bird.
Rhode Island’s marine waters abound in flounder, butterfish, mackerel, tuna, scup, cod, angler, and whiting, all of which are caught commercially. Popular game fish include striped bass, tautog (blackfish), bluefin tuna, and swordfish. Quahogs, which are a large and strongly flavored type of clam, and scallops, oysters, crabs, and lobsters are taken along the coast. Freshwater fish include black bass, yellow perch, white perch, and the brook, rainbow, and brown trout. "Rhode Island" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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