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Vegetation of Kentucky


Vegetation of Kentucky
Vegetation of Kentucky

Before Kentucky was extensively settled, forests covered nearly all of the region. Forests now cover 47 percent of the state’s land area. However, much of the forest land is made up of second growth timber. Most of the forest lands in Kentucky include numerous species of trees. In the Appalachian Plateaus region the dominant species are the tulip poplar, or tulip tree (the official state tree), the American beech, white basswood, sweet buckeye, red oak, white oak, and sugar maple. The scarce Kentucky coffee tree (the official state tree until 1994) is also found here.

The eastern hemlock is plentiful on the Cumberland and Allegheny plateaus and on the lower mountain slopes. Birches are common on the highest slopes. Pitch pines and other species of pine grow on sandy mountain slopes and ridges in the Cumberlands. White pines are now common, but are not native to the state.

Appalachian Plateaus region the forests


In most of the areas to the west of the Appalachian Plateaus region the forests tend to be dominated primarily by species of oak, pine, gum, and hickory. In the limestone areas of the Highland Rim section and the Western Coal Field section there are extensive stands of redcedars and numerous pine oak barrens.

The patterns of plant life of the Bluegrass region and the Gulf Coastal Plain are distinctive.

In the sparsely forested Bluegrass region the trees tend to be widely spaced and many stand amid rich pastures or croplands. These trees include the bur oak, sycamore, white oak, blue ash, white ash, hackberry, sugar maple, black walnut, Kentucky coffee tree, honey locust, and shagbark hickory.

In the Gulf Coastal Plain the bald cypress occurs in the swamplands and the black willow, silver maple, river birch, and eastern cottonwood are common in stream valleys. Other trees that are found in the lowlands include the red maple, sweet gum, hackberry, swamp cottonwood, pecan, and sycamore.

Growing in the shade of large forest trees and in small forest clearings throughout much of the state are such colorful flowering shrubs and small trees as the redbud, dogwood, mountain laurel, azalea, rhododendron, holly, sassafras, and species of magnolia. In the spring the forests and woodlands are brightened by wildflowers, such as the bloodroot, bluebell, bird’s-foot, violet, dogtooth violet, rue anemone, and species of trillium, bellwort, and lady’s slipper. In the fall numerous areas, especially the open fields, are carpeted with species of goldenrod, which is the state flower, and of coreopsis, or tickseed, aster, ironweed, ageratum, lobelia, and ruellia. The pennyroyal is a small aromatic herb that grows abundantly in the Pennyroyal area, which is named for this plant. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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