Forests once covered nearly all of Mississippi, but since the 18th century large areas have been cleared for farming. In recent decades abandoned farmland has been replanted with trees, and at present, forests cover 62 percent of the state’s land area. In recent years the value of forest products has risen to nearly ten percent of Mississippi’s manufacturing income. The forests of the north consist of many species of oaks, such as the white, red, black, post, and willow oaks, and hickories, such as the bitternut, mockernut, and pignut. Other common hardwoods include the tulip tree, sycamore, and honey locust. In the forests of the Delta, swamp oaks are common, occurring together with the bald cypress, sweet gum, tupelo gum, and eastern cottonwood and, to a lesser extent, the swamp cottonwood. North America’s largest cottonwood plantation is in the state, north of Vicksburg.
In central Mississippi the oaks and hickories are mixed with shortleaf pines and loblolly pines. The pines increase in abundance toward the south, and in the Piney Woods, longleaf pines and slash pines grow in nearly pure stands. Along the Gulf Coast, particularly in the southwest, are live oaks, which are usually thickly draped with gray-green Spanish moss. Common small trees and shrubs of Mississippi include the southern magnolia, which is the state tree, the huckleberry, mountain laurel, sassafras, American holly, hazel, and Hercules-club.
Natural grassland once covered most of the Black Belt section of northeastern Mississippi and the Jackson Prairie in central Mississippi. However, much of the land has been cleared for farming.
In the spring the forests are bright with wildflowers and flowering trees, such as the dogwood, redbud, red maple, azalea, silver bell, rhododendron, cross vine, and trumpet honeysuckle. In the fall the open fields are blanketed with such flowers as the black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, aster, and ironweed. The blossom of the magnolia is the state flower. "Mississippi" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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