The New River Gorge is home to a number of native and non-native plant and tree species. When traveling through the Gorge, it can be both helpful and interesting to take note of the plants in the area. These plants are essential for helping to maintain the balance and the ecosystem for the many animals that also call the Gorge home. In conjunction, these two factors lead to an environment that is breathtaking from any angle – be it the water or the ground!
We have compiled a list of some of the more common trees to the region. For a comprehensive list of trees to watch for, please check out this checklist created by the National Park Service.
Some of the more common families of trees and plants that live in the New River Gorge include:
- Rose Family (Rosaceae): There are over 2,000 different species of Rose, and several of the (okay, about 40) can be found in the Gorge. These are not just the pretty flower that you see on Valentine’s Day, but rather it includes some common plants such as: sweet cherry, black raspberry, sweetbrier, peach, and chokeberry.
- Willow Family (Salicacae): Ala the “Wind and the Willows” – these are considered to be flowering plants. Common strains include poplar, aspen and cottonwood willows.
- Pine Family (Pinaceae): These are the well known trees or shrubs that are so very common throughout the winter in the northern regions. Important and recognizable types of pines include spruce, white pine, and hemlock.
- Honeysuckle Family (Caprifoliaceae): Did you know such a specific family of plants even existed? These succulent, flowering plants generally take the form of a shrub or a vine can be seen at their peak during the warmer months of the year.
- Health Family (Ericaceae): These plants, otherwise known as “heather” have a variety of species that thrive around the world in acidic soil conditions. Some common Ericacea include cranberries, blueberries and azaleas. In the New River Gorge, you can see several species of blueberries and also rhododendrons.
- Beech Family (Fagaceae): The Beech Family has several representatives in the New River Gorge. Some that you may recognize include, white oak, American chestnut, and the American beech.
There are many, many more plants that call the New River Gorge home, and we recommend that visitors download the checklist above so that they can look for them while hiking and exploring. Of course, if you see any of these plants, or any other plants, make sure to leave them where they are. Nature is best left undisturbed, and some plants can result in allergic reactions in some cases.
Do you have a favorite plant or tree that you look for in West Virginia? Leave it in a comment below!