The Cove Forest

Cove forests are unique ecosystems found exclusively in North America, in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the United States. They are a special type of forest known as mixed deciduous, meaning that forest's trees lose their leaves in fall. Cove forests are restricted to mountain "coves," which are bowl-shaped valleys with very rich, fertile, damp soil. Many cove forests have streams wandering through part of the forest. The cove forests of the South exhibit the greatest plant and tree diversity of any forests in the United States.

The cove forests of South Carolina are restricted to the northwest portion of the state, extending from the north of Westminster to north of Greenville, Jones Gap State Park, Table Rock State Park, Oconee State Park, and Caesars Head State Park all contain cove forest communities. For more information, view the credits or find out how to plan a trip to a cove forest.

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  • We plan to officially retire The Cove Forest - FLASH VERSION June 2020. 
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Flowering Dogwood in Bloom | The Cove Forest
Flowering Dogwood in Bloom | The Cove Forest

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Flowering dogwood is an ecologically important understory tree in eastern forests. Today, large numbers of flowering dogwoods are dying due to an introduced parasitic fungus that causes dogwood...
Japanese Stilt Grass | The Cove Forest
Japanese Stilt Grass | The Cove Forest

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Seeds of this plant were apparently introduced from Asia into Tennessee in the early 1900s via packing material. The plant escaped and has now spread into forests throughout the eastern United States...
European Wild Boar | The Cove Forest
European Wild Boar | The Cove Forest

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Wild boar eat, trample, uproot, and kill large numbers of plants. They also compete with native animals for acorns, nuts and berries. Because the availability of fruits can vary dramatically from year...
Dying Hemlock | The Cove Forest
Dying Hemlock | The Cove Forest

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The hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA) is an aphid-sized insect that feeds on sap of the Canada hemlock, a widespread tree of eastern North American forests. The HWA causes Canada hemlock trees to drop their...
Persistent Trillium | The Cove Forest
Persistent Trillium | The Cove Forest

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A number of rare species occur in cove forests, including the endangered persistent trillium, Trillium persistens. The species is found in deeply incised coves and gorges (acidic coves) in South...
Dense Leafy Plant | The Cove Forest
Dense Leafy Plant | The Cove Forest

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Leaves often show signs of some damage by herbivores, but only rarely are most or all of the leaves on a given plant eaten. As a result, green leafy plant tissues is abundant in cove forests during...
Close-Up of Oak Leaves | The Cove Forest
Close-Up of Oak Leaves | The Cove Forest

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The most effective defense against herbivores are chemicals. Leaves, stems and roots often various chemicals that deter herbivores. For example, oaks have bitter-tasting chemicals called tannins that...