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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1174: Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Meeting of the International Plant Propagators' Society

Gulf Coast Appalachia—a new frontier: exploring the trees and shrubs of the Red Hills of Alabama©

Author:   B. Green
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1174.68
Abstract:
What imagery springs to mind when meditating south Alabama? Sun-bleached white beaches, deck chairs beneath the scant shade of swaying palms, azaleas blossoming between the low lying limbs of moss strewn live oaks? Maybe a “cheeseburger in paradise” along our self-described “Redneck Riviera?”
That is all a pleasant reality, and yet, in the midst of the Coastal Plain, only some 85 airline miles from the Gulf of Mexico, a vastly different and magical landscape unfolds. A narrow belt stretching across the state contains piney hills, bisected by steep ravines carved since the Eocene by fast-flowing creeks and streams. All lead to what has been called “America’s Amazon”—the biologically rich Mobile River Delta. This geological and botanical treasure is known as the Red Hills, receiving the name from the iron-rich soils that once sprouted massive tracts of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests. In the mesic soils between the ridgetops, one finds the richest woody tree diversity in North America.

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