Table of Contents

Fall River Open Space Plan

D. Vegetation

i.) Forestland

Occupying 12,183 of the city's 24,460 acres, the forest lands of Fall River are its most abundant vegetative resource. Mixed oak forests dominate the upland areas in Fall River's eastern forestlands which are owned mostly by three large landowners - the City of Fall River (Watuppa and Copicut Watershed Lands), Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Freetown-Fall River State Forest), and Acushnet Saw Mills. Oaks are found growing in either nearly pure stands or in combination with another important upland species - white pine. Other associated species in these stands include American Beech, Pitch Pine, Black Birch, White Oak, Sassafras and Pignut Hickory.

White Pine is a common and valuable forest in this area and throughout southeastern Massachusetts. It is generally found in mixed stands, though it occasionally occurs in nearly pure white pine stands. White Pine is versatile occurring in both upland and wetland areas. Other naturally occurring forest stand types found on uplands include pitch Pine, Scrub Oak, and American Beech. A small number of mature, non-indigenous conifer plantations are found exclusively on Fall River's public watershed lands. These include Red Pine, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce and Scots Pine.

The dominant wetland forest stand type is Red Maple. Red Maple occurs in either pure stands or as a major component of mixed stands in combination with yellow birch, tupelo, white pine, eastern hemlock, or white oak. The other tree species growing as a distinguishable wetland forest type is the Atlantic White-Cedar. An exquisite example of such a cedar stand is found in the Copicut Swamp. The American Holly is a small forest tree found throughout all of this section on most upland sites. Its presence in these woods is not nearly as widely known. Hollies dot the landscape as individual understory trees. They sometimes reach fairly large size, however, and may even form small groves where their numbers are great and they have some protection.

There are 358 plant species included in the Appendix to this Plan. This list is comprised of 57 trees, 51 shrubs, 22 ferns and mosses, and 228 herbs.

ii.) Rare, Threatened and Endangered Plant Species

The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has provided information relative to those species of plants that are known to exist in Fall River or have been identified in the past as occurring in the Fall River area. These species are listed in the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Atlas as being endangered, threatened or of special concern. Special concern refers to those species that could easily become threatened. Five of the six species listed were last observed prior to 1925 and may no longer exist in Fall River. They have been included here for historical information purposes.

Source: Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program

Plants Listed as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern in the
Massachusetts Natural Heritage Atlas
Element Name Common Name Federal Status State Status Year of Last Observation Year of First Observation
Asclepias verticillata Linear-leaved Milkweed   T 1903 1903
Cyperus odoratus Umbrella Sedge   WL 1925  
Ludwigia sphaerocarpa Round-fruited False-loosestrife   T 1913 1913
Lycopus rubellus Gypsywort   T 1925 1925
Sabatia kennedyana Plymouth Gentain   SC 1913 1913
Tripsacum dactyloides Northern Gama-grass   E 1983 1983

Key to Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Rank:
E = Endangered, T = Threatened, SC = Special Concern, WL = Watch-listed

Key to Federal Rank:
LE = Federally Endangered, LT = Federally Threatened, C1/2/3 = Federal Candidate Status

An Umbrella Sedge, Cyperus ferruginescenus, was last seen along the South Watuppa Pond in 1925. The Round-fruited False-Loosestrife and Plymouth Gentian were last seen along the shores of the North Watuppa Pond in 1913. The fourth record concerns a recently verified occurrence of Northern Gama-grass, Tripsacum dactyloides, along the Fall River/Taunton boundary. This species is quite rare in New England, and occurs only sporadically along the coast. This is only the second known current (post-1978) record of this species in Massachusetts.