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Rolling Coastal Plain

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About the Rolling Coastal Plain

The Rolling Coastal Plain is a region starting in Virginia, south of the Potomac River, and extending south and slightly west through most of North Carolina. Along its length it is the northwesternmost and most upland portion of the coastal plain. This region is widest in the north and narrower in the south.

Elevation and relief tends to be higher than in more coastal regions to the southeast, but lower than the more inland Piedmont region. Soils tend to be well-drained.

Original forest cover was probably mostly Oak-Hickory-Pine forests, with dominant species being hickory, longleaf pine, shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, white oak, and post oak. Forest cover has been greatly reduced for agriculture. Remaining forest is highly fragmented and interspersed with farmland. Intact forest is more common in riparian areas. Current forests are dominated by loblolly and shortleaf pine and a mix of hardwoods, with hardwoods along streams and rivers in the north, and Oak/Gum/Cypress forest in bottomlands farther south. Virginia pine becomes more common at the northernmost edge of this region.

This region is heavily utilized for agriculture, where common crops include corn, soybeans, tobacco, cotton, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and wheat. Although it does not entirely contain any large metro areas, this region is more urbanized than regions to the southeast. The Richmond, VA metro area is located here, and in North Carolina, the smaller cities of Rocky Mount and Wilson.

The border to the west and northwest with the Piedmont is well-defined and marked by a fall line. The border to the east is less well-defined, and marked by a gradual transition in places, although in some areas it is clearly marked by the Surry Scarp. Over most of this region's length, it is bordered inland, to the northwest, by the Northern Outer Piedmont. At its far northern end, it directly borders the Northern Inner Piedmont, and at its far southwestern end, it has small, discontinuous borders with the Triassic Basins and a small border with the Sand Hills. At the far north it directly borders the Potomac river; east of this along the Chesapeake bay it borders the Chesapeake-Pamlico Lowlands and Tidal Marshes. Farther south, however, it is separated from this region and instead directly borders the Mid-Atlantic Flatwoods to the south and southeast. In the south, it is also interspersed with the Southeastern Floodplains and Low Terraces, which occupy the lowland areas along major rivers and streams.

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. Woods, A.J, Omernik, J.M., Brown, D.D. "Level III and IV Ecoregions of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR (1999) Web.