Plum Lake Hemlock Forest State Natural Area

Plum Lake Hemlock Forest is a near virgin stand of old-growth on rolling topography between Star Lake and Plum Lake. Canopy trees include hemlock, yellow birch, sugar maple, basswood, and paper birch. The presence of large white birch suggests a fire origin with the stand originating around 1810 and succeeding from aspen to pine to hemlock. Selective cutting of white pine, as evidenced by scattered stumps, occurred in the 1880's. Seedlings of birch and red maple are present, but hemlock reproduction is sparse due to overbrowsing by deer, which often use the area as a winter deer yard. The forest contains substantial numbers of snags and course woody debris strewn about the forest floor. Shrubs, though not dense, include mountain maple, American fly honeysuckle, and red elderberry. The understory includes a diversity of herbaceous species including Canada mayflower, shining club-moss, creeping-snowberry, bunchberry, American starflower, pipsissewa, lesser rattlesnake-plantain, and Indian-pipe. Nesting birds include red-eyed vireo, black-throated green warbler, blackburnian warbler, northern parula, winter wren, ovenbird, hermit thrush, and veery. Plum Lake Hemlock Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1953.

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