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North Cascades Vegetation

The vegetation here is highly diverse. At lower elevations, forests of Douglas-fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock intermix with riparian areas that support broadleaf trees such as red alder and big leaf maple. At middle elevations, forests of Pacific silver fir and western hemlock cover the slopes.

A mosaic of mountain hemlock, Pacific silver fir, yellow cedar, and subalpine parklands occurs at higher elevations. Avalanche chutes can be lined with Sitka alder or vine maple.

Throughout the forests of the North Cascades, natural fires large enough to cause significant tree replacement occur at irregular intervals of 90 to 250 years. Here, as elsewhere in Washington, forest dynamics have changed due to human intervention in the form of fire suppression and logging practices, among others.

Above timberline, alpine heaths, meadows, and  fellfields are interspersed with barren rock, ice, and snow.


For details of this ecoregion within Washington, click a subheading in the left column.

View the more general description of this ecoregion in North America

 Fellfields: Stony habitats with low mat and cushion plants. >back

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