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Vegetation of Pennsylvania


ermine
ermine

The name Pennsylvania means “Penn’s woodland.” The term is appropriate because the entire area was once a continuous forest. As European settlers arrived, land was cleared for farming and timber was cut to provide both lumber and charcoal. Eventually only a few patches of virgin forest remained. Since the end of the 19th century, however, extensive reforestation has occurred and 58 percent of the state is now covered by trees. In some of the more remote areas the woodlands have almost regained a pre-settlement wildness.Pennsylvania is an area of transition between the southern and northern forests of eastern North America.

Hardwoods typical of the southern forests, including oak, elm, maple, hickory, ash, walnut, sycamore, yellow poplar, aspen, and birch, are found in the low-lying hills and valleys of southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania. At higher elevations the white pine, pitch pine, hemlock, and other softwoods of the northern forests predominate.

Familiar flowering shrubs include the dogwood, redbud, pink azalea, and mountain laurel. Cranberries grow in many marshy areas, and blueberries are common on rocky hillsides. Violets, anemones, jack-in-the-pulpits, sweet williams, trilliums, and lady’s slippers are among the many varieties of wildflowers.

The hemlock and mountain laurel are so abundant and so widely identified with Pennsylvania that they have been designated the official state tree and state flower, respectively.

ildlife


Pennsylvania has a surprising abundance of wildlife. Many animals are protected by game laws, and many habitats are protected by state forest natural areas, sanctuaries, or state game lands. Black bears, once nearly extinct in Pennsylvania, are numerous throughout the state. The white-tailed deer is the most common large animal in the state. Among the many small animals in Pennsylvania are rabbits, squirrels, and woodchucks. Other animals include the beaver, raccoon, opossum, muskrat, coyote, gray and red fox, skunk, ermine, and weasel.

Among the many varieties of songbirds in the state are the robin, oriole, cardinal, song sparrow, mourning dove, mockingbird, and bobolink. Game birds include wild turkeys, partridge, ruffed grouse (the state bird), and geese.

Several types of salamanders, as well as a great variety of other amphibians, reptiles, and fish are found throughout the Allegheny Plateaus. Although most snakes in the state are harmless to humans, poisonous copperheads and rattlesnakes occur in some mountain and forest areas. Trout, perch, pike, bass, pickerel, and catfish are abundant in the state’s lakes and streams. "Pennsylvania" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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