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Fall Line Hills

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About the Fall Line Hills

The Fall Line Hills are a region of the Southeastern Plains, located along the northeasternmost border of the western portion of this region, from barely in southern Tennessee, through northeastern Mississippi, through much of Alabama, where the bulk of the region is located. This region is named for the that marks its northeastern boundary with the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains.

This region consists of rugged, dissected hills with rounded tops and side slops ranging from gentle to steep. This region is underlain by a mix of coarse sand and gravel, and finer decomposition residuum. Lower layers have sand and clay. Soils here tend to be loamy, and vary considerably in their fertility from site to site.

This region was originally covered in mostly oak-hickory-pine forest. Dominant trees included white oak (Quercus alba), southern red oak (Quercus falcata), black oak (Quercus velutina), post oak (Quercus stellata), American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), and shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). In the southeast, longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) was also found.

Presently, this area is still mostly forested; there are some pine plantations, and some areas of pasture and small amounts of cropland. In the southeast there is production of some corn, soybeans, and cotton, whereas the northwest of this region produces mostly hay. Longleaf pine has been mostly eliminated, but is being reintroduced.

Over most of its length, this region is bordered to the southwest by the Flatwoods/Blackland Prairie Margins, a much flatter region transitional to the Blackland Prairie. In a few areas, it directly borders the Blackland Prairie. Along the floodplains of the larger rivers in Alabama, this region is interrupted by the Southeastern Floodplains and Low Terraces. At the far north of this region, it is bordered to the north by the Northern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain and to the northeast by the Transition Hills. At the far southeast of this region, it is bordered to the east by the Sand Hills and to the south by the Southern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain.

The northeastern border of this region marks the beginning of the Appalachians, and is highly varied. Beginning in Alabama there is a large border with the Dissected Plateau and an even larger border with the Shale Hills, both part of the Southwestern Appalachians. Southeast of this is the beginning of the Ridge and Valley region of the Appalichians; the Fall Line Hills region borders two regions here: the agriculturally-fertile Southern Limestone/Dolomite Valleys and Low Rolling Hills in two places, and in between them, the higher-elevation, rugged Southern Sandstone Ridges. Southeast of this, marking the end of the Appalachians, the region is bordered to the north by the Southern Inner Piedmont, and east of this by the Southern Outer Piedmont.

References

1. Griffith, G.E.; Omernik, J.M.; and Azevedo, S.H. "Ecoregions of Tennessee (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA (1998) Web.

2. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Comstock, J.A., Lawrence, S., Martin, G., Goddard, A., Hulcher, V.J., and Foster, T. "Ecoregions of Alabama and Georgia (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs)", U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA (2001) Web.