The soils most suitable for farming in the state are the gray-brown inceptisols that cover much of the eastern lowlands and some of the narrower valleys of the western section of the Ridge and Valley province. Despite leaching, these soils are productive when properly managed. They consist mostly of clay and silt loams. In addition, there are fertile alluvial soils in the major river valleys. Thin, infertile, and stony soils cover most of the remainder of the state. These soils are difficult to farm. Soil erosion has occurred in many upland areas.
Forests, mostly of hardwood varieties, cover much of West Virginia. The principal commercial species are the oak, yellow poplar, maple, birch, beech, black walnut, hickory, and gum.
Softwoods include pines and hemlock firs. Flowering trees include the wild crab apple, dogwood, hawthorn, and redbud. Among the many flowering bushes and plants are the rhododendron, which is the state flower; the laurel; blueberry; hepatica; wild geranium; and black-eyed Susan. Insects and disease, mostly introduced from other continents, have done enormous damage to West Virginia trees. By 1926 a chestnut blight had killed most of the state’s chestnut trees. Dutch elm disease attacked elm trees, and the oak wilt later did serious damage to oak trees. The gypsy moth has destroyed trees in an ever-expanding area. By setting aside timberlands and introducing new management techniques, however, both the federal and state governments have done much to conserve the forests. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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