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Southeastern Plains

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NameColor on MapEPA Code‡
Blackland Prairie65a
Flatwoods/Blackland Prairie Margins65b
Sand Hills65c
Southern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain65d
Northern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain65e
Southern Pine Plains and Hills65f
Dougherty Plain65g
Tifton Upland65h
Fall Line Hills65i
Transition Hills65j
Coastal Plain Red Uplands65k
Atlantic Southern Loam Plains65l
Rolling Coastal Plain65m
Chesapeake Rolling Coastal Plain65n
Tallahasee Hills/Valdosta Limesink65o
Southeastern Floodplains and Low Terraces65p
Buhrstone/Lime Hills65q
Jackson Prairie65r

† Status: ✓ = Complete ○ = Needs Image … = Incomplete ∅ = Stub Only

This code refers to the US EPA's Level 4 ecoregion codes for the continental U.S., see here.


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About the Southeastern Plains

The Southeastern Plains region encompasses much of the coastal plain of the southeastern U.S., stretching from Maryland southwest to Mississippi, with small amounts extending into Louisiana and Tennessee. The southern end of this region is U-shaped, reflecting its curving around the southern end of the Appalachians.

The climate here is humid and subtropical, with hot, humid summers and relatively mild winters, although the northernmost reaches of this region are approaching the colder end of the subtropical zone. There is less moderating influence of the ocean than areas farther south and east, and the northwesternmost parts of this region have more continental influence, with greater possibility of extreme weather spells due to the movement of large air masses. Precipitation is high year-round, with relatively little seasonality, although the northwest of this region tends to have a wetter season from late winter into spring, the south of the region has a relatively dry October, and the northeast has a slightly drier winter. This region is subject to hurricanes and tropical storms, especially in the southeast, although their influence is usually weakened by the more inland location relative to the outer portions of the coastal plain to the southeast.

The terrain here is gently-dissected, mostly with rolling plains and only some areas of completely level terrain or steeper ravines. It is flatter and lower in elevation relative to the Piedmont and Appalachians, but not quite as flat or low as the Southern Coastal Plain to the southeast and Mississippi Alluvial Plain to the west.

Naturally this area had a mix of different forest types. Much of the area had pine forests, with Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) a dominant species in much of the area, especially in drier upland areas and the south, and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), mostly in bottomland areas and becoming more common farther north. There were some mixed oak-hickory-pine forests throughout the region, and the southern part of this region had some southeastern mixed forests, with a mixture of broadleaf evergreens, deciduous evergreens, and pines. Floodplains mostly supported deciduous forests, and there were also some cypress swamps.

This area is utilized for both agriculture and forestry. There are some small to moderate cities, but no large metro areas located in this region, although the northernmost reaches, which are narrow, include parts of the metro areas of Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, and these areas are mostly occupied by low-density suburban development.

This region is bordered along the East coast by the lower, flatter, more ocean-moderated Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain and farther south, by the Southern Coastal Plain. Along the Mississippi river, this region is bordered by the Mississippi Valley Loess Plains. Inland, on the east coast, this region is bordered by the Piedmont and Northern Piedmont regions, more rugged hilly areas; this border is marked by a fall line that delineates the end of the coastal plain. This region then wraps around the southernmost border of the Appalachians; in this spot, in the east it is briefly bordered to the north by the Ridge and Valley, where the valleys directly open up into the coastal plain, and west of this, this region wraps around the Southwestern Appalachians; these borders are also marked by a fall line and always correspond to a well-defined change in geologic substrate, but the exact nature of the border is quite varied, moving along the different portions of the border.

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1. Wiken, E., Griffith, G. "North American Terrestrial Ecoregions - Level III", Commission for Environmental Cooperation, (2011) Web.