Over 1,400 species of vascular plants are found in Shenandoah National Park, though fewer than one hundred of these are the familiar trees and shrubs most noticeable to park visitors. The park's 70-mile length and 3,500-foot elevation range create numerous habitats that support a wide variety of forest cover types. The primary factors determining which plants grow in certain areas of Shenandoah National Park are elevation, available moisture, bedrock geology, soil conditions, and the direction of slope exposure (slope aspect). Chestnut oak and red oak forests are most common in the park, but other forest types such tulip poplar, cove hardwood, and even small areas of spruce-fir forest, may also be found when exploring the park's hillsides, sheltered stream valleys, and peaks. Visitors to Big Meadows will find a diverse array of sun-loving wildflowers, shrubs, and grasses. Threats to the park's flora include the spread of invasive exotic plants, insect pests, illegal plant collecting, excessive deer browsing, and changes brought about by climate change.
Wildflowers, also known as herbs, are comprised of 805 species and represent more than half of the floral species diversity within the park. More...
The vast forest covering more than 95% of Shenandoah National park contains 331 tree, shrub, and vine species. More...
Collectively referred to as graminoids, grass and the grass-like (sedges and rushes) species account for 13% of the vascular plants within Shenandoah National Park and are found in a variety of habitats. More...
Ferns can be found in almost any habitat within Shenandoah National Park. The park supports 44 species of fern and an additional 11 species of related spore-producing plants (fern allies) such as club mosses and horsetails. More...
What is NPSpecies? How Does it Work?
NPSpecies is the ultimate consolidated database where you can find the latest information on any species, from any National Park Service unit. This resource lets you search for species information on specific parks and allows you to create your own itemized species lists. Click on the "Customize Your List" links above and use the proceeding instructions as a guide to help you create your customize species lists.
Once at the (https://irma.nps.gov/NPSpecies) custom report there will be a variety of options in pull-down boxes that will let you choose the categories of species you would like included in your list, there will also be options to select the way you want your species sorted or grouped. Once you make your selections, click on the grey View Report button. This will generate the report you have customized. From here you can either click on the large Print button at the top of the document to print, or if you want to save it, look for the blue and white floppy disk symbol with a green arrow on it, that can be found above the black bar on the document. Click on the icon to see the many different formats you can save your customized species list in. We hope this a useful way to better meet your needs and interests in Shenandoah National Park.
Central Appalachian Dry Chestnut Oak – Northern
Red Oak/Heath Forest
Shenandoah National Park is home to a wonderful variety of plant life. The park's Mid-Atlantic location straddles conditions of both the Northern and Southern Appalachian mountains allowing everything from lichens to oak trees to thrive. Over 1400 species of vascular plants are found in the park, though fewer than one hundred of these are the familiar trees and shrubs most noticeable to park visitors.
The forests within Shenandoah National Park are generally classified as "oak-hickory", yet they contain far more than just oak and hickory trees to discover. The park's 70 mile length and 3500 foot elevation range create numerous habitats able to support a variety of forest cover types. Some of the strongest influences determining what plants grow in certain areas of Shenandoah National Park are elevation, the available moisture, the bedrock geology, and the directions of slope exposure (slope aspect), and soil conditions. Chestnut and red oak forest are common in the park, but other forest types such tulip poplar, cove hardwood, and even small areas of spruce-fir forest, may also be found when exploring the park's hillsides, sheltered stream valleys, and peaks.
Forest names such as cove hardwood and chestnut oak are only a starting point to describe the variety of plants present within Shenandoah National Park. The forests would be incomplete without the seemingly countless herb, fern, and shrub species found beneath the trees. Trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, interrupted fern, blueberries, azaleas, and lady slipper orchids are just a few examples of the numerous smaller species that enrich the understory. Explorations into the forests of Shenandoah National Park provide tremendous opportunities for discovery to both the casual and serious botanical enthusiast.