Flora of Acadiana Park

Vascular   Ferns and Mosses   Trees and Shrubs   Vines   Fungi

flora

 

The Acadiana Park Nature Trail traverses two very different forest types: poorly drained Mississippi River floodplain, and better drained Mississippi River escarpment. In the escarpment, winged elm, water oak, pecan and eastern red cedar are the most commonly encountered tree species; while the shrub layer is dominated by American beautyberry (locally known as "French mulberry"), blackberry, and red buckeye. Down on the floodplain the associated vegetation is typical of most bottomland hardwood systems of the lower gulf coastal plain. It includes trees such as water hickory, baldcypress, sycamore, green ash, hackberry, American elm, sweetgum, honeylocust, and live oak. Shrubs like dwarf palmetto, dewberry, deciduous holly, Chinese privet and water elm are also located here.

From an ecological standpoint, the most important vegetational component of both forest types are the vines. At least two dozen species of herbaceous and woody vines can be found coursing their way through all layers of the forest. The fruits of vines such as muscadine grape, Virginia creeper, poison ivy, "black jack" (Berchemia scandens), and Japanese honeysuckle furnish crucial food sources for migrating and wintering songbirds and mammals.

Woodland wildflowers are especially conspicuous during the spring and fall months, and include bayou violet (Viola langloisii), green dragon (Arisaema dracontium), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), wild petunia (Ruellia carolinesis), curl flower (Clematis crispa), bear's foot (Polymnia uvedalia), spiderwort (Tradescantia spp.), zigzag iris (Iris brevicaulis), spider lily (Hymenocallis liriosme), mist flower (Eupatorium coelestinum), and white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum). Ferns are also quite showy during almost every month of the year. The most abundant representatives are southern shield fern (Thyleptris kunthii), resurrection fern (Polypodium polypodiodes - found only upon branches of very large shade trees such as pecan and live oak), Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum), and ebony spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron).