• Sun beginning to set at Harpers Ferry, as seen from Maryland Heights. Photo by NPS Volunteer Buddy Secor.

    Harpers Ferry

    National Historical Park WV,VA,MD

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Flood Plains

rose mallow

Halberd-leaved rose mallow (Hibiscus militaris) growing along the banks of the Shenandoah River.

NPS photo

Floodplains are primarily located along the shores of the Potomac and ShenandoahRivers, sometimes reaching inland along stream banks that drain into these rivers. Many forests on the lower floodplain are dominated by silver maple (Acer saccharinum), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). Upper floodplains are commonly covered with tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and white ash (Fraxinus americana). During a recent vegetation inventory, Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) was recorded for the first time in the park along the banks of the Potomac. This tree is one of the largest oaks, preferring moist, well-drained, bottomland soils on stream and river banks.

Other herbaceous vegetation found along the water's edge include mistflower eupatorium (Eupatorium coelestinum), water-willow (Justicia
americana), and halberd-leaved rose mallow (Hibiscus militaris). When walking higher on the floodplain, pawpaw (Asimina triloba), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia), and wingstem (Verbsina alternifolia) are some of the species likely to be encountered.

Did You Know?

Robert Harper was granted an exclusive ferry concession in 1861.

Robert Harper operated a ferry across the Potomac River in 1747. His heirs, the Wagers, maintained the operation until 1824 when a bridge was built across the Potomac.