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Classification of American Hardwood Forests


The temperate forests of the United States contain more than fifty important broad-leaved forest tree species. Most trees are commercially sought - some have uses that are not considered commercial. This massive hardwood forest is spread over 730 million acres (302 million hectares) of United States forest and extends from North-East to South across 2000 miles (3000 kilometers). Forty percent of the timber growing there are hardwoods (deciduous), 60 percent are evergreens (coniferous).

The major portion of The Great American Hardwood Forest occurs in the eastern third of the United States and the country can be divided into five regions. Each forest region has many different forest types. These forest types maintain their own character based on local climate, topographic, and soil conditions. Most hardwood species overlap a bit and are growing in several regions.

The Southern Forest Region:

This forest region touches the Atlantic and Gulf coast from Maryland and Delaware to Texas, then north through the lowlands of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri, and east via the Ohio River Valley. This is the largest hardwood producing region. Abundant stands of sweetgum , red and white oaks , hickories, yellow-poplar , ash, hackberry and cottonwood are growing.

The Appalachian Forest Region:

This forest region covers the mountain areas of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and northern parts of Missouri, Alabama and Georgia. Major species in the region include red and white oak, yellow-poplar, walnut , the maples, ash and hickory.

The Northern Forest Region

This forest region encompasses the New England states, the Great Lake states and the upper Mississippi valley. Species in this area include the maples and oaks, cherry , ash , the birches, beech , and basswood.

The Central Forest Region:

This forest region includes some or all of 13 different states located mostly in the central lowlands: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, south-western Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, northern Oklahoma and Arkansas, Missouri and western Kentucky. The principal species are walnut, the oaks, the hickories, ash, the maples, yellow-poplar, basswood and cottonwood.

The Western Forest Region:

This forest region makes up the remainder of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii. There are only a few western hardwoods, specifically red alder .

Top 100 American Tree Species - Hardwoods
Major hardwood species listing from your Forestry About.com Guide.

Index of Forest Maps, Facts and Figures
Land and forest cover maps from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Forest Type Map
Maps of non-federal land forest types from NRCS.

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