Vascular Flora and Rare Species of New River Gorge National River, West Virginia


Dale W. Suiter

Additional Authors:

Dan K. Evans


March – 1999


Vascular Flora, New River Gorge National River, West Virginia

New River Gorge National River includes 85.3 km (53.0 mi) of the New River and occupies over 25,123 ha (62,080 ac) in Summers, Raleigh, and Fayette Counties of southern West Virginia. The vascular flora was surveyed from September 1992 through October 1994. A total of 909 taxa of vascular plants representing 448 genera and 131 families was recorded. Seventy-nine percent of the taxa recorded are native to West Virginia. Currently 1342 vascular plant taxa have been documented from the New River Gorge as a result of this work as well as the works of Grafton and McGraw, and Phillips. A total of 27 taxa reported in this study have some special designation of rarity in West Virginia. Of the 27 rare taxa, 13 are new records for the New River Gorge. Fifty new populations of these rare taxa were discovered. Eleven natural plant communities were described according to the dominant species as well as certain recurring physical features. A comparison of the flora of New River Gorge with the flora of other river gorges in the central Appalachian Mountains indicates that New River Gorge appears to be, floristically, one of the most diverse river gorges in the central and southern Appalachians.