Nature & Science

As you explore the Cane River National Heritage Area, you'll notice that like all of Louisiana, the Cane River region is rich in flora and fauna. The following lists demonstrate some of the ecological variety found in this area. The lists are not meant to be comprehensive, but rather they are designed to give a general overview of the plants and animals found in the region.

Vegetation with the Cane River region can be divided into three distinct groups - agricultural vegetation, ornamental vegetation, and native hardwood vegetation.

Because large and small farming operations have sustained this region for nearly three centuries, a variety of agricultural crops are found on farms and plantations throughout the region. Though cotton was “king” for much of the region’s history, today visitors will see pecan orchards, cattle pastures, corn, and soybeans in addition to cotton.

Ornamental trees and shrubs also characterize the Cane River area. Historic plantation homes showcase majestic live oak alleès and fragrant, flowering magnolias. Other common ornamental trees include osage orange, catalpa, Japanese magnolia, crepe myrtle, chinaberry, and jujube.

In contrast to the ornamental vegetation, the native bottomland hardwoods and wooded swamps represent only a small fraction of what once grew within the Cane River valley. Today, less than 10,000 wooded acres remain in the lowlands along the river. Common species are water oak, willow oak, swamp privet, water locust, honey locust, and cypress.

Louisiana is often referred to as a “Sportsman’s Paradise” and has a large animal population. Deer and a few black bears are found in the heritage area's nearby forests, along with a few cougars or panthers in the Red River Valley. Mink, raccoon, skunk, and opossum are found throughout the entire state, while timber wolves and foxes inhabit some areas of the timbered upland. Colonies of beavers inhabit some of the more rapidly flowing streams, whereas otters prefer the sluggish lowland waters and bayous. Feral hogs are increasing in the lowland swamps, and squirrels are common in all sections where hickory and oak trees are found.

In addition to mammals, reptiles are plentiful but most are usually not harmful. However some, including some species of snakes and alligators, can be quite dangerous to both humans and other animals. Common poisonous snakes in the area include rattlesnake, water moccasin/cottonmouth, copperhead, and coral snake. Alligators have been spotted along Cane River.

Last updated: July 28, 2017

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Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc
1115 Washington Street

Natchitoches, LA 71457



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