The federal government controls most of Utah’s forestland. The main forest trees are the piñon juniper and hardwoods such as aspen, birch, and oaks.
An open woodland of scrubby conifers grows in the mountains at elevations up to about 2,100 m (about 7,000 ft). The woodland consists of open groves of Utah junipers and Rocky Mountain junipers and of piñons. Quaking aspens are found in scattered groves at about the same elevation. The Gambel oak and mountain mahogany are also common on the lower mountain slopes. The cottonwood grows along the streams, together with box elder, mountain alder, dogwoods, and willows.
Above elevations of about 1,800 m (about 6,000 ft) are commercially valuable pine forests. Ponderosa and lodgepole pines are common, together with the aspen, Douglas fir, and limber pine. In the highest forest zone are the subalpine fir, white fir, and Engelmann spruce. The blue, or Colorado spruce, which is the state tree, is not native to Utah. Growing close to the ground are such shrubs as dwarf maples, chokecherries, sumacs, and Juneberries, commonly known as serviceberries.
Utah’s state flower is the sego lily. Other common wild flowers are the dogtooth violet, lupine, shooting star, false Solomon’s seal, globe mallow, monkshood, and Oregon grape.
Many of the plants found in the deserts of Arizona also occur in the arid sections of southwestern Utah. Among these plants are the Joshua tree, mesquite, creosote bush, and varieties of cactus. Small sagebrush and Sandberg bluegrass are the most common plants in the canyon section of the Colorado Plateau. Shad scale and greasewood are the dominant plants where the alkaline soils limit the growth of sagebrush. The Indian paintbrush and the prickly pear add color to the plateau lands.
Utah’s most productive soils, found in a narrow belt along the base of the Wasatch Range, are chestnut loams, which were formed from alluvial materials washed down from the mountains. Chestnut loams are rich in plant nutrients, but they are highly productive only when irrigated and fertilized.
Sierozem and gray desert soils occur over much of western Utah and in parts of eastern Utah. These soils are also productive when watered and fertilized. Lithosols, soils that are stony or gravelly, and shallow soils are found in much of central Utah. On the slopes of the major mountain ranges the soils support forests, but on the basin floors the vegetation is sparse and natural soil erosion is extensive. Large sections of eastern Utah are also covered by lithosols. "Utah" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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