Plants are an Amazing Part of the Park

Acadia National Park has the distinction of being the first national park east of the Mississippi River. The Wabanaki Tribes have called this area home for more than 12,000. years. This National Park is also known for its wide variety of plant life. In facts authors, Glen H. Mittelhauser, Linda L. Gregory, Sally C. Rooney, Jill E. Weber documented  862 plant species including wildflowers, grasses, ferns, sedges, trees, rushes and shrubs.

Acadia National Park has its share of grasses. However, amateurs have a hard time telling the differences between sedges, rushes and grasses. Grasses have joints. Sedges most often have triangular stems. Rushes have round stems. All of these plants have blooms of some kind. They are not obvious, but can help identify what they are.

Freshwater plants can be found in the lakes and streams of the park. There are about 80 species of freshwater plants and an additional dozen species that are considered semi-aquatic. Seven of these aquatic or semi aquatic are currently listed or proposed for listing on Maine’s Official List of Endangered and Threatened Plants.  There are 30 others that are considered locally rare.

Ferns are plentiful in the area. They do very well in cool shaded areas of coastal Maine. Some of the most easy species to recognize are the species of rock polypody. P. appalachianum and Polypodium virginianum look almost exactly alike. The fronds are singular. They appear to be growing in a small colony or mat.

The cinnamon fern is golden brown in color, which is where the name came from. The cinnamon fronds sprout from the center of the plant in the spring of the year.

The trees found in the park are varied. The park lies in two zones: the northern boreal forest and the eastern deciduous forest. There is a lot of birch and spruce forest. The park also has its share of hardwood trees that New England is known for. They have stands of maple, oak, and beech.  There are isolated areas of pitch pine, scrub oak and jack pine.

The coastal areas of the park have a wide variety of marine algae and seaweeds. Most of the algae found on the shores come from one of four groups. The red algae (rhodophyta), brown algae (phaeophyceae), green algae (cholorphyta) and diatoms (bacillariophyceae).

The bogs in the park are sure to have mosses. These reproduce with spores. Sphagnum are the most common.

It would be sad to leave out the beautiful native wildflowers. Some of the more common you may find are the Bluebead lily, starflower, goldthread and lily of the valley.

Be sure and pick up a plant guide as you travel through this National park. It has much diversity.