Twelve distinct plant communities comprise the 1,100 acres of forest in Appomattox Court House NHP. These plant communities include mature upland oak and hickory forests, young successional forests of Virginia pine and yellow popular, riparian forests along the Appomattox River, and unique wetlands. Most of the forests in the park are less than 50 years old, but several mature oak stands probably date back to 1865.
Over 590 acres of open lands are maintained in the park to reflect the historic agrarian landscape of 1865, with most of the non-forested land leased for agriculture. Lands dedicated to agricultural use (hay and cattle pastures) and residential areas are typically vegetated in turf grasses, such as fescues. Some open lands are managed as "old fields" which are made up of native, warm-season grasses, wildflowers (forbs) and shrubs which provide wildlife habitat. Around the historic village, the fields are managed in turf grasses for hay, and native, warm-season grasses to reflect the agricultural use of the land in 1865.
Forest and field communities with the greatest diversity of plants are the healthiest communities and support the greatest amount of wildlife. Monocultures, such as hayfields, provide little habitat for wildlife because of the lack of food and shelter. Management actions taken in the park, such as invasive plant control and prescribed fire, are taken to increase the natural diversity of plants and improve the health of the plant communities.
Did You Know?
Major James Field, of A.P. Hill's staff, surrendered at Appomattox. Field served in the Mexican War, helped to write the 1st Constitution for the State of California and ran for Vice President of the United States in 1892. (Field's Confederate frock coat is at Appomattox Court House NHP)