While ago, I made a toponymic biomes map of the United States. Now it’s time to make a toponymic map of the U.S. vegetation.
There are more than 640 various species of trees in the U.S., 186 of which are endemic. So I decided to focus on the most common tree species in the United States.
According to the National Atlas website, in the West, Douglas-fir is the most common tree by volume, with nearly twice the volume of the following most common species, Loblolly pine, in the South. These ten species account for 45% of all live volume.
Top 10 tree species by live volume
|Common name||Genus||Species||Volume in billon m3 / ft3||Percent of all volume|
|Douglas-Fir||Pseudotsuga||menziesii||3.3 / 114.8||12.80|
|Loblolly Pine||Pinus||taeda||1.7 / 59.0||6.60|
|Ponderosa Pine||Pinus||ponderosa||1.0 / 36.5||4.10|
|Red Maple||Acer||rubrum||1.0 / 35.3||3.90|
|Western Hemlock||Tsuga||heterophylla||0.9 / 32.0||3.60|
|Lodgepole Pine||Pinus||contorta||0.8 / 28.7||3.20|
|White Oak||Quercus||alba||0.8 / 28.7||3.20|
|Sugar Maple||Acer||saccharum||0.7 / 23.9||2.70|
|Yellow-Poplar||Liriodendron||tulipifera||0.7 / 23.2||2.60|
|Northern Red Oak||Quercus||rubra||0.6 / 21.3||2.40|
Red maple, in the North, is the most common tree found in U.S. forests, followed closely by Loblolly pine, the most commonly planted tree, in the South. These 10 species account for 39% of all trees.
Top 10 tree species by number of trees
|Common name||Genus||Species||Number of billion trees||Percent of all trees|
I downloaded a huge text file of named places from the U.S. Board of Geographic Names and attached it as XY data into an ArcGIS geodatabase.
Let’s see how many populated places in the United States contain the names of the most common tree species.
Table of Contents
Oak is the national tree of the United States, so it is not surprising that the U.S. Board of Geographic Names contains information about 16,003 populated places that have the words “Oak” or “Oaks” in their names.
36 pine species are grown in the U.S., with many found in the country’s east and west. There are 12,583 populated places of the nation that contain the word “pine.”
Loblolly pine is native pine species to the Southeastern U.S., from East Texas to Florida and north to southern New Jersey. It is the most widely planted pine tree in the eastern coastal U.S. states. Lodgepole Pine is a typical tree in the Pacific Northwestern part of the U.S.
About 3,119 localities in the United States contain the word “Maple”.
One thousand three hundred fifty-six populated places contain the word “Poplar.”
Yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is the most common poplar tree species in the U.S. It is native to the eastern United States to the south to central Florida and Louisiana.
There are 465 populated places in the United States contain the word “Aspen”.
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is the most widely distributed tree in the U.S, especially in northern and western states.
Even though western hemlock the top tree species by live volume in the U.S., just 371 settlements have the word “Hemlock.”
Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is native to the west coast of the United States, with its northwestern limit on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and its southeastern limit in northern Sonoma County in California.
About 351 localities in the U.S. contain the word “Dogwood.” The Flowering dogwood (Cornus Florida) is one of the most common understory hardwoods growing in hardwood and coniferous forests in eastern states of America.
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) are the most common fir species in the American forests. Douglas fir is native to the western U.S. states. At the same time, Balsm Fir is native to the northeastern United States (Minnesota east to Maine, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to West Virginia). But despite that, just 226 the names of the U.S. populated places contain the words “fir” or “firs.”
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is one of the most aggressive and competitive pioneer tree species and fast takes over abandoned fields and unmanaged cut-over forests. It comfortably grows on many places like red maple, including wetlands and dry hill country up to 800 meters (2,624 feet). There is 23 settlement in the U.S. that contains the word “Sweetgum” (Liquidambar styraciflua).
Palm trees are not the dominant woody plants in the United States. Only 14 species of palms, belonging to 9 genera, are native to the U.S. Most palm species are distributed in the southeastern and southern U.S. states. The most significant number of species occurs in Florida.
Despite this, palm trees are widely used in landscaping in many U.S. states because of their high ornamental value. So it is interesting to know which populated places contain the word “palm” in their name.
The map below shows populated places whose names contain the species names of all the major tree species in the United States.