Cuyahoga Valley National Park includes a diverse mosaic of natural vegetation types alongside various human-developed land uses. The park’s natural vegetation is composed primarily of mixed-mesophytic forest (approximately 80%), which is characterized by a variety of deciduous tree species growing in conditions that are neither too wet nor too dry.
The oak-hickory association is the most widespread; others include maple-oak, oak-beech-maple, maple-sycamore, pine-spruce, and hemlock-beech associations. Several large semi-contiguous tracts of forest remain, but most forested areas are heavily fragmented.
Interspersed among these forests are other natural habitats, including older field habitats in various stages of succession, wet meadows, and other wetland habitats. Additionally, a variety of developed lands, including residential areas, golf courses, ski areas, and other suburban lands exist within park boundaries. Agricultural activity, once widespread, continues at low levels within the park.
Many different plant species are able to survive in the park’s diverse habitats. A walk though any field or forest provides visitors with the opportunity to see many of the park’s 943 plant species. In the spring, bloodroot and spring beauty blanket the forest floor, while late summer stands of goldenrod and wingstem line the roads with gold. The park’s diverse habitats support 21 state-listed rare plant species, including sedges, grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and one tree species.
Exotic Plant Management
Nearly 20 percent of the park’s plant species are exotic (not native to the area). This high percentage is in part due to the longstanding history of human alteration of the Cuyahoga Valley landscape. Sixteen of these species are considered invasive, posing a significant threat to native plant communities. Learn more about the invasive plant species in the park.
People of all ages assist the park in removing exotic, invasive plant infestations. Visit our Volunteer page for more information about helping out.
In the springtime, the park’s forests come alive with ephemeral (short-lived) wildflowers, especially in moist areas near creeks.
Species Attribute Definitions
Occurrence values are defined below. One or more Occurrence Tags may be associated with each Occurrence value.
Present: Species occurs in park; current, reliable evidence available.
Probably Present: High confidence species occurs in park but current, verified evidence needed.
Unconfirmed: Species is attributed to park but evidence is weak or absent.
Not In Park: Species is not known to occur in park.
Adjacent: Species is known to occur in areas near to or contiguous with park boundaries.
False Report: Species was reported to occur within the park, but current evidence indicates the report was based on misidentification, a taxonomic concept no longer accepted, or other similar problem of error or interpretation.
Historical: Species' historical occurrence in park is documented. Assigned based on judgment as opposed to determination based on age of the most recent evidence.
Animals: May be seen daily, in suitable habitat and season, and counted in relatively large numbers.
Plants: Large number of individuals; wide ecological amplitude or occurring in habitats covering a large portion of the park.
Animals: May be seen daily, in suitable habitat and season, but not in large numbers.
Plants: Large numbers of individuals predictably occurring in commonly encountered habitats but not those covering a large portion of the park.
Animals: Likely to be seen monthly in appropriate habitat and season. May be locally common.
Plants: Few to moderate numbers of individuals; occurring either sporadically in commonly encountered habitats or in uncommon habitats.
Animals: Present, but usually seen only a few times each year.
Plants: Few individuals, usually restricted to small areas of rare habitat.
Animals: Occurs in the park at least once every few years, varying in numbers, but not necessarily every year.
Plants: Abundance variable from year to year (e.g., desert plants).
Unknown: Abundance unknown
Native: Species naturally occurs in park or region.
Non-native: Species occurs on park lands as a result of deliberate or accidental human activities.
Unknown: Nativeness status is unknown or ambiguous.
The Checklist contains only those species that are designated as "present" or "probably present" in the park.
The Full List includes all the checklist species in addition to species that are unconfirmed, historically detected, or incorrectly reported as being found in the park. The full list also contains species that are "in review" because their status in the park hasn't been fully determined. Additional details about the status of each species is included in the full list.
The checklist will almost always contain fewer species than the full list.