The Piney Woods viewed from Loop 390 outside of Marshall, Texas

The Piney Woods is a temperate coniferous forest terrestrial ecoregion in the Southern United States covering 54,400 square miles (141,000 km2) of East Texas, southern Arkansas, western Louisiana, and southeastern Oklahoma. These coniferous forests are dominated by several species of pine as well as hardwoods including hickory and oak. The World Wide Fund for Nature considers the Piney Woods to be one of the critically endangered ecoregions of the United States.[1]


The Piney Woods cover an area of 140,900 square kilometres (54,400 sq mi) of eastern Texas, northwestern Louisiana, southwestern Arkansas and the southeastern corner of Oklahoma.[1] They are bounded on the east by the Mississippi lowland forests, on the south by the Western Gulf coastal grasslands, on the west by the East Central Texas forests and the Texas blackland prairies, on the northwest by the Central forest-grasslands transition, on the north by the Ozark Mountain forests.


A creek running through the Piney Woods in Northeast Texas.

The region has heavy to moderate rainfall, with some places receiving over 60 inches (1,500 mm) of rain per year. Longleaf, Shortleaf and Loblolly Pines, along with Bluejack and Post Oaks, dominate sandhills. A well-developed understory grows beneath the sparse canopy, and includes Yaupon Holly and Flowering Dogwood. Pine savannas consist of scattered Longleaf and Loblolly Pines alongside Black Tupelos, Sweetgums, and Sweetbay Magnolias.[1] Other common trees in this ecoregion include Eastern Redbud, Southern Sugar Maple, and American Elm.[2] American Wisteria, a vine, may cover groves of trees

Two varieties of wetlands are common in the Piney Woods: bayous are generally found near rivers and sloughs which are generally found near creeks. In bayous Bald cypress, Spanish moss, and water lilies are common plants.[3] Sloughs are shallow pools of standing water that most trees are capable of growing in, and other species such as the Purple bladderwort, a small carnivorous plant, have found a niche in sloughs.

Hearty species of Prickly pear cactus and Yucca can be found both in the forests and wetlands.

The indigenous Texas trailing phlox (Phlox nivalis texensisis), an endangered species, grows in the sandy soils of Longleaf Pine forests.[4]


Mammals such as Eastern Cottontail rabbits, Eastern Gray Squirrels, Virginia Opossums, Nine-banded Armadillos, White-tailed deer, North American Cougars, Gray Foxes, Bobcats, Ring-tailed Cats, Rafinesque's Big-eared Bats, and Seminole Bat;[4] and reptiles such as Cottonmouth Water Moccasins, Prairie Kingsnakes, Slender glass lizards, and Squirrel Treefrogs, thrive in the Piney Woods. Birds include Sandhill Cranes, Black and Turkey Vultures, Northern Mockingbirds, and the vulnerable Red-cockaded Woodpecker. American Alligators are not as common as they once were, but their population has rebounded since the 1960s. Louisiana Black Bears are rare today, but still live in remote thickets. Recently, there has been significant talk of reintroducing the Black Bear into many parts of East Texas.[5][6] The most common fish is Catfish, which are a native species but also stocked in local reservoirs. Crayfish are common along river and creek banks.

The Piney Woods Region of the four state area is a noted area for Bigfoot (Sasquatch) sightings; with many legends dating back to pre European settlement. One such noted legend is the story of the Fouke Monster of Southern Arkansas; documented in the 1972 film The Legend of Boggy Creek. The area according to references lists this area to be the third highest in North America for these such sightings. Melanistic (black) cougars, another probable cryptid, have been noted by residents.[7]

Conservation and threats[]

Newly cleared forest in East Texas. Most of the mature trees have been cleared and the litter layer—the bottom layer of decaying matter that enriches the soil with nutrients—of the forest has begun to wash away due to recent rains.

The majority of the commercial timber growing and wood processing in the state of Texas takes place in the Piney Woods region, which contains about 50,000 square kilometres (12,000,000 acres) of commercial forestland.

National forests[]

Four National Forests are found in the Piney Woods of East Texas, covering some 634,912 acres (2,569.398 km2) in 12 counties.

State parks[]

The Texas portion of the Piney Woods has at least 17 state parks:

  • Atlanta State Park
  • Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site
  • Caddo Lake State Park
  • Daingerfield State Park
  • Governor Hogg Shrine Historic Site (Quitman)
  • Huntsville State Park
  • Jim Hogg Historic Site (Rusk)
  • Lake Bob Sandlin State Park
  • Lake Livingston State Park
  • Martin Creek Lake State Park
  • Martin Dies Jr. State Park (Jasper)
  • Mission Tejas State Park
  • Rusk and Palestine State Parks
  • Starr Family State Historic Site
  • Tyler State Park
  • Village Creek State Park (Lumberton)

See also[]

  • List of ecoregions in the United States (WWF)
  • Big Thicket

External links[]


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