Birch tree in the Grand Sable Dunes
Pictured Rocks lies within the northern hardwood/hemlock/white pine region of the eastern deciduous forest. This forest type is transitional between the more homogeneously deciduous forests to the south and the coniferous boreal forests to the north.
About 80 percent of the lakeshore is dominated by upland northern hardwoods. Dominant species are beech (Fagus americanus), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (Acer rubrum), yellow birch (Betula allegheniensis), hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and white pine (Pinus strobus).
On coarse outwash and coastal sands (about 10 percent of the Lakeshore), red pine (Pinus resinosa), white pine and jack pine (Pinus banksiana) are dominant. Successional stands within these soils contain considerable amounts of paper birch (Betula papyrifera) and aspen (Populus tremuloides). Ground and crown fires influenced this pine-dominated vegetation prior to European settlement.
Scattered small patches of wetter habitat occur on upland benches and in poorly drained topographic lows (about 10 percent of the Lakeshore). These contain boreal forest elements such as black spruce (Picea mariana), white spruce (Picea glauca), white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), and larch (Larix laricina). Larger white cedar glades within the national lakeshore are southwest of Grand Sable Lake, south of Au Sable Point, along the southern and western edges of Beaver Basin, and east and south of Miners Basin.