• Visitors bask in a golden sunset at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center in Shenandoah National Park

    Shenandoah

    National Park Virginia

Plants

bloodroot
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...

 
Trees, Shrubs & Vines Standard List Customize Your List

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 & Lycophytes Standard List Customize Your List

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...

 

 
 
drychestnut

Central Appalachian Dry Chestnut Oak – Northern
Red Oak/Heath Forest

SNP Photo

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.

 
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