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Acadian Plains and Hills

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Map Legend & Subregion List

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NameColor on MapEPA Code‡
Aroostook Lowlands82a
Aroostook Hills82b
Eastern Maine-Southern New Brunswick Plains82c
Central Foothills82d
Central Maine Embayment82e
Downeast Coast82g
Penobscot Lowlands82h

† 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 Acadian Plains and Hills

The Acadian Plains and Hills, referred to in some documents as the Maine/New Brunswick Plains and Hills, is a mostly-forested region covering roughly the eastern-southeastern half of Maine, a large, bordering section in New Brunswick, a tiny sliver in Quebec, and both shores of the Bay of Fundy, including a small portion of Nova Scotia along this bay.

The climate here is towards the cold end of a humid continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters. Temperature extremes are moderated close to the coast, and both hot and cold extremes become more severe farther inland, but all of this region has some moderation from the ocean due to being relatively low and flat, and not far from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the northeast. There is little seasonality of precipitation; slightly less rainfall equivalent falls in winter due to colder temperatures, but winters are still consistently humid and have abundant snowfall. Precipitation decreases slightly in the north of this region.

This region has mostly rolling terrain, with hilly uplands, plains interspersed with isolated hills, and rolling lowlands. Bedrock outcroppings are widespread, and there are also rocky glacial moraines throughout, as well as numerous glacial lakes. There are both perennial streams and larger rivers, and the drainage pattern is typical of glaciated regions, with irregularly rugged terrain from glaciers disrupting the drainage network, and few areas of well-developed dissected terrain. The underlying geology is complex and varied, with a mix of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, and its igneous rock including both intrusive and volcanic rocks. There are a few areas of limestone and dolomite. Soils here are mostly either spodosols, acidic soils that form under coniferous forest, or inceptisols, less-developed soils that have formed more recently from exposed rock. Areas of richer soils are sparse and localized.

Upland sites here mostly support northern hardwood forests of sugar maple (Acer saccharum), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). Valleys and bottomlands support coniferous forests of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), and white spruce (Picea glauca). Towards the north, spruce and fir become more dominant, but the drier conditions also lead there to be some pine-dominated areas, with a mix of eastern white pine, red pine (Pinus resinosa), and jack pine (Pinus banksiana).

Most of this region is sparsely populated, but there are a number of towns. Forestry is the most common land use here, although there are some areas where agriculture is also important. Agriculture tends to concentrate in areas of richer soil such as the region along the St. John River, and also in the Central Maine Embayment. Important crops here include potatoes, oats, buckwheat, barley, broccoli, and hay. Tourism and recreation are important in coastal areas, especially towards the southwestern end of this region, and becoming less intensive farther east. Although tourism represents a relatively small portion of total land use, it is a much larger portion of this region's economy.

This region is bordered to the southwest along the coast by the warmer, more-densely-populated Northeastern Coastal Zone. This border is abrupt and marked by a clear geologic transition from a rocky coastline to a flatter coastline with greater fine sediments and abundant coastal marshes. To the northeast, this region borders and partly surrounds the Maritime Lowlands. Inland to the west and north, this region is bordered by the more rugged Northeastern Highlands; a different portion of this same region also borders this region to the southeast in Nova Scotia.

Plant Lists & In-Region Search

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Warning! This region extends outside the continental US. We have only built range maps for the portion of plant ranges in the continental US; these lists and searches may thus have major omissions for species which only occur in the portion of this region outside the continental US.


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