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Roadside Use of Native Plants

Indicator Species Composition of Plant Community Types

Kuchler, 1985

Composition of Vegetation Types Including
Dominant and Component Species

Our descriptive information regarding the vegetation of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, related to Kuchler's Potential Natural Vegetation map is limited. For further information on plant community types and their composition, please check with the Natural Heritage Program and/or The Nature Conservancy in each State.


In Alaska remoteness and a very sparse population have combined to preserve the vegetation. Even extensive fires cannot hide the potential natural vegetation, which is severely limited to relatively few types by extremely harsh environmental conditions. Introduced species are few, and disturbed vegetation types return to their original state when given an opportunity. One of the outstanding characteristics of the Alaskan vegetation is its uniformity over very large areas. Note the numerous plant communities which imply great diversity.


In Hawaii great complexity is the rule. More than two-thirds of all plant species on the Hawaiian Islands have been introduced. Some arrived long ago, others more recently; some spread fast, others more slowly. Some introduced species, such as the mesquite (Prosopis pallida) and the guava (Psidium guayava), have crowded out the native species and taken over their territory. Man has changed, removed, or replaced the vegetation. In addition, he introduced pigs and goats that soon spread without control into the hills and mountains where they became very destructive. Finally, the vegetation and its evolution are strongly affected by the age and the physical and chemical nature of individual lava flows that built up the islands. This volcanism occurred long ago in Kauai, in the west, but continues on the easternmost island of Hawaii.


Our descriptive information and detailed lists are not complete for Puerto Rico. Please note written and resource references for more information on plant community types and their composition. Plant community types include: Subtropical dry forest, moist forest, wet forest, and rain forest; as well as Lower Montane wet forest, and rain forest. Puerto Rico's vegetation is under the same population pressures and environmental impacts as those of other States. Introduction of invasive species is a great threat to the diversity of this island's natural vegetation.

48 Contiguous States

Western Forests

Needleleaf Forests

  1. Spruce-Cedar-Hemlock Forest (Picea Thuja-Tsuga)
  2. Cedar-Hemlock-Douglas Fir Forest (Thuja-Tsuga-Pseudotsuga)
  3. Silver Fir-Douglas Fir Forest (Abies Pseudotsuga)
  4. Fir-Hemlock Forest (Abies-Tsuga)
  5. Mixed Conifer Forest (Abies-Pinus Pseudotsuga)
  6. Redwood Forest (Sequoia-Pseudotsuga)
  7. Red Fir Forest (Abies)
  8. Lodgepole Pine-Subalpine Forest (Pinus-Tsuga)
  9. Pine-Cypress Forest (Pinus-Cupressus)
  10. Western Ponderosa Forest (Pinus)
  11. Douglas Fir Forest (Pseudotsuga)
  12. Cedar-Hemlock-Pine Forest (Thuja Tsuga-Pinus)
  13. Grand Fir-Douglas Fir Forest (Abies Pseudotsuga)
  14. Western Spruce-Fir Forest (Picea-Abies)
  15. Eastern Ponderosa Forest (Pinus)
  16. Black Hills Pine Forest (Pinus)
  17. Pine-Douglas Fir Forest (Pinus Pseudotsuga)
  18. Arizona Pine Forest (Pinus)
  19. Spruce Fir-Douglas Fir Forest (Picea Abies-Pseudotsuga)
  20. Southwestern Spruce Fir Forest (Picea Abies)
  21. Juniper-Pinyon Woodland Quniperus Pinus)

Broadleaf Forests

  1. Oregon Oakwoods (Quercus)
  2. Mesquite Bosques (Prosopis) Broadleaf and Needleleaf forests
  3. Mosaic of 2 (Cedar-hemlock-Douglas fir forest) and 22 (Oregon oakwoods)
  4. California Mixed Evergreen Forest (Quercus-Arbutus-Pseudotsuga)
  5. California Oakwoods (Quercus)
  6. Oak-Juniper Woodland (Quercus juniperus)
  7. Transition Between 27 Woodland) and 31 (Mountain Mahogany-Oak Scrub)

Western Shrub and Grassland


  1. Chaparral (Adenostoma-Arctostaphylos Ceanothus)
  2. Coastal Sagebrush (Salvia-Eriogonum)
  3. Mountain Mahogany-Oak Scrub (Cercocarpus-Quercus)
  4. Great Basin Sagebrush (Artemisia)
  5. Blackbrush (Coleogyne)
  6. Saltbrush-Geasewood (Artiplex Sarcobatus)
  7. Creosote Bush (Larrea)
  8. Creosote Bush-Bur Sage (Larrea Franseria)
  9. Palo Verde-Cactus Shrub (Cercidium Opuntia)
  10. Ceniza Shrub (Leucophyllum-Larrea Prosopis)
  11. Desert: Vegetation Largely Absent


  1. Fescue-Oatgrass (Festuca-Danthonia)
  2. California Steppe (Stipa)
  3. Tule Marshes (Scirpus-Typha)
  4. Fescue-Wheatgrass (Festuca Agropyron)
  5. Wheatgrass-Bluegrass (Agropyron-Poa)
  6. Alpine Meadows and Barren (Agrostis, Carex, Festuca, Poa)
  7. Fescue-Mountain Muhly Prairie (Festuca-Muhlenbergia)
  8. Grama-Galleta Steppe (Bouteloua Hilaria)
  9. Grama-Tobosa-Prairie (Bouteloua Hilaria)

Shrub and Grasslands Combinations

  1. Sagebrush Steppe (Artemisia Agropyron)
  2. Wheatgrass-Needlegrass Shrubsteppe (Agropyron-Stipa-Artemisia)
  3. Galleta-Three Awn Shrubsteppe (Hilaira Aristida)
  4. Grama-Tobosa Shrubsteppe (Bouteloua-H i laria-Larrea)
  5. Trans-Pecos Savanna (Flourensia Larrea)
  6. Mesquite-Acacia-Savanna (Andropogon Setaria-Prosopis-Acacia)
  7. Mesquite-Live Oak Savanna (Andropogon- Prosopis-Quercus)


  1. Foothills Prairie (Agropyron-Festuca Stipa)
  2. Grama-Needlegrass-Wheatgrass (Bouteloua-Stipa-Agropyron)
  3. Grama-Buffalo Grass (Bouteloua Buchloe)
  4. Wheatgrass-Needlegrass (Agropyron Stipa)
  5. Wheatgrass-Bluestem-Needlegrass (Agropyron-Andropogon-Stipa)
  6. Wheatgras-Grama-Buffalo Grass (Andropogon-Bouteloua-Buch loe)
  7. Bluestem-Grama Prairie (Andropogon Bouteloua)
  8. Sandsage-Bluestem Prairie (Artemisia Andropogon)
  9. Shinnery (Quercus-Andropogon)
  10. Northern Cordgrass Prairie (Distichlis Spartina)
  11. Bluestem Prairie (Andropogon-Panicum Sorghastrum)
  12. Sandhills Prairie (Andropogon Calamovilfa)
  13. Blackland Prairie (Andropogon-Stipa)
  14. Bluestem-Sacahuista Prairie (And ropogon-Spartina)
  15. Southern Cordgrass Prairie (Sparti na)
  16. Palmetto Prairie (Serenoa-Aristida)

Grassland and Forest Combinations

  1. Oak Savanna (Quercus-Andropogon)
  2. Mosaic of 66 (Bluestem Prairie) and 91 (Oak-Hickory Forest)
  3. Cedar Glades (Quercus-Juniperus Sporobolus)
  4. Cross Timbers (Quercus-Andropogon)
  5. Mesquite-Buffalo Grass (Bouteloua Buchloe- Prosopis)
  6. Juniper-Oak Savanna (Andropogon Quercus-Juniperus)
  7. Mesquite-Oak Savanna (Andropogon Prosopis-Quercus)
  8. Fayette Prairie (Andropogon-Buchloe)
  9. Blackbelt (Liquidambar-Quercus Juniperus)
  10. Live Oak-Sea Oats (Quercus-Uniola)
  11. Cypress Savanna (Taxodium-Mariscus)
  12. Everglades (Mariscus and Magnolia Persea)

Eastern Forests

Needleleaf Forests

  1. Great Lakes Spruce-Fir Forest (Picea Abies)
  2. Conifer Bog (Picea-Larix-Thuja)
  3. Great Lakes Pine Forest (Pinus)
  4. Northeastern Spruce-Fir Forest (Picea Abies)
  5. Southeastern Spruce-Fir Forest (Picea Abies)

Broadleaf Forests

  1. Northern Floodplain Forest (Populus Salix-Ulmus)
  2. Maple-Basswood Forest (Acer-Tilia)
  3. Oak-Hickory Forest (Quercus-Carya)
  4. Elm-Ash Forest (Ulmus-Fraxinus)
  5. Beech-Maple Forest (Fagus-Acer)
  6. Mixed Mesophytic Forest (Acer Aescu I us-Fagus-Li riodendron-Quercus Ti lia)
  7. Appalachian Oak Forest (Quercus)
  8. Mangrove (Avicennia-Rhizophora)

Broadleaf and Needleleaf Forests

  1. Northern Hardwoods (Acer-Betula Fagus-Tsuga)
  2. Northern Hardwoods-Fir Forests (Acer Betula-Abies-Tsuga)
  3. Northern Hardwoods-Spruce Forests (Acer-Betula-Fagus-Picea-Tsuga)
  4. Northeastern Oak-Pine Forest (Quercus Pinus)
  5. Oak-Hickory-Pine Forest (Quercus-Carya Pinus)
  6. Southern Mixed Forest (Fagus Liquidambar-Magnolia-Pinus-Quercus)
  7. Southern Floodplain Forest (Quercus Nyssa-Taxodium)
  8. Pocosin (Pinus-Ilex)
  9. Sand Pine Scrub (Pinus-Quercus)
  10. Subtropical Pine Forest (Pinus)
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Questions and feedback should be directed to Deirdre Remley (deirdre.remley@dot.gov, 202-366-0524).

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