Publication Date



U.S. Department of Agriculture


Southern hardwood forests stretch from the Virginias to Florida and from the mid-Atlantic to Missouri. They can generally be grouped into upland forests and bottomland forests. The upland hardwood forests of the southern region are usually associated with the mountainous topography of the Appalachians and Ozarks. Bottomland hardwoods are found along the floodplains of larger rivers in the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains, including the Mississippi River floodplain. Southern hardwood forests are owned by a variety of governmental and private owners, but the vast majority of owners are nonindustrial private individuals. These owners seldom engage in intensive forest management, often exploiting the resource. The silvicultural systems applicable to the management of hardwoods are the same as those recommended for pines, but in hardwood management, reliance on natural regeneration is more common than use of plantation silviculture. Oak species are very important in the southern hardwood forests, and lack of oak regeneration in present-day forests is a major concern. Lack of fire and the resurgence of white-tailed deer throughout the southern region are proposed as reasons for poor oak regeneration. Many stands, either due to their stage of development or neglect, are in need of intermediate management operations such as thinning and improvement cutting. Crop-tree management is a method that is particularly useful in southern hardwoods. It was concluded that although hardwoods make up a significant part of the southern forest resource, they are generally managed with less intensity than pines, and hardwood management is an opportunity area for the South in the future.


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