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Atlantic Southern Loam Plains

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About the Atlantic Southern Loam Plains

The Atlantic Southern Loam Plains is a large region stretching through the more inland parts of the coastal plain, from southern North Carolina through South Carolina and most of Georgia; it is widest at its southern end. This region tends to be heavily utilized for agriculture because of its ideal soil texture and relatively flat but well-drained terrain.

This region has gently rolling terrain underlain by sedimentary rocks, and tends to have deep, well-drained soils, although there is considerable diversity in soil type and texture on different sites. The landscape is dissected by a well-developed stream network. There are numerous Carolina bays, large elliptical depressions, typically with wet or swampy interiors and drier, sandy rims. The climate is humid and subtropical; rainfall is slightly higher in summer, but this seasonality is balanced by cooler temperatures during the rest of the year that moderates moisture availability to plants.

This region is high in plant diversity, in large part due to a range of moisture conditions driven mostly by soil type. Original forest cover had considerable diversity by site, but has been largely mapped as southeastern mixed forests.

This region has been extensively cleared for agricuture. The region now produces corn, soybeans, onions, rye, wheat, tobacco, and there are also hog farms. There is also a small amount of forestry, in the form of pine plantations, although less than areas closer to the coast. There is some remaining wild forest, although it is mostly highly fragmented. Many Carolina bays have been drained for agriculture, and those that remain are critically important as habitat for the unique plant communities found there. There is also significant urbanization, with the largest city being Fayetteville, NC, followed by the smaller city of Florence, SC; there are also numerous smaller towns. Overall, this is one of the more severely altered regions of the southeast, which has seen significant loss of biodiversity.

To the north, in North Carolina, this region gradually transitions into the Rolling Coastal Plain, which is cooler and has a shorter growing season, and has accompanying changes in plant species and forest types. At the southwestern end of this region, there is an abrupt border to the west with the Dougherty Plain, a region defined by the presence of limestone near the surface, and accompanying karst topography, and there is a more gradual and ill-defined border to the south with the Tifton Upland.

Inland, to the northwest, this region borders the Sand Hills in the north, and the Coastal Plain Red Uplands in the south. Interspersed throughout this region along the floodplains of rivers are the Southeastern Floodplains and Low Terraces, mostly covered in swamp forests. To the southeast, closer to the coast, most of this region borders the Carolina Flatwoods, a region that is lower, flatter, and more poorly-drained, except in Georgia where this region instead borders the more southerly Sea Island Flatwoods. The southernmost part of this region also borders the Okefenokee Plains to the south.

Plant Lists & In-Region Search

We do not yet have data to generate plant lists for a region as fine-tuned as this one. However you can move up to the broader Southeastern Plains and generate lists for that region: native plants or all plants. Or search that region's plants here:


1. Comstock, J.A.; Griffith, G.E.; Omernik, J.M. "Ecoregions of North Carolina: Regional Descriptions", (2002) 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.