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Buffalo National River Trees

Buffalo National River has type and location data on over 530 species of vascular plants. These plants range from the smallest spring flower to the towering pine trees that overlook the river from precarious perches atop the rocky blufflines. Diversity in vascular plants is highest near springs and seeps, most frequently located in and around the Boone formation which is composed of limestone. These isolated communities produce a beautiful array of flowers of the strangest configurations. One of these flowers is the Touch-me-not. The flower of this plant is spring loaded, and when ripened, the slightest touch will send an explosion of small succulent seeds airborne.

Of the plant community types found within the Buffalo National River, the Oak-Hickory Forest type is dominant. This forest type is responsible for producing most of the food resources for mammals and other wildlife through the production of mast, acorn and hickory nuts. These food sources ripen in the fall and constitute the major food items for black bear, whitetail deer, squirrel, wild turkeys, and numerous other forest dwellers. Some of these food resources may be in peril due from an infestation of the Red Oak Borer Beetle. This native beetle infests large Red Oak trees that are located on zeric ridgetops. Numerous environmental factors have combined to produce large and troublesome densities of these beetles. One of the strategies to manage the infestation is to use prescribed fire more frequently to reduce certain life cycle habitat niches. Numerous research projects are looking into the problem, and hopefully clear management strategies will emerge to deal with this environmental dilemma.

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