The Vegetation of Benzie County Michigan: From the Introduction to the Flora of Benzie County Part I: Pteridophytes - 1985
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Benzie County, bordering Lake Michigan in northwestern Lower Peninsula Michigan, is the smallest county in the state. It consists of 223,187 acres comprising 348.73 sguare miles. The flat to rolling topography is nearly entirely the result of deposition of the Wisconsinan glacial period which ended approximately 10,000 years ago, terminal and other glacial moraines and out wash plains provided the habitat for a northern hardwoods plant community which with its variations originally covered nearly 75 percent of the county. The dominant species were Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), American Beech (Faqus qrandifolia), Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Eastern Hemlock (Tsuqa canadensis), Yellow Birch (Betula alleqhaniensis h i t e Ash (Fraxinus americana), and American Basswood (Tilia americana). American Elm (Ulmus americana) was common on the moister sites. Following logging of this forest at the turn of the century, Sugar Maple has become very abundant as sprout growth with Eastern Hemlock and Yellow Birch becoming much less common. Rich spring wildflower displays are found on finer textured morainal soils and are good indicators of soil profile. development. A detailed summary of the variations within these forests and their relationship to the development of the spring herbaceous flora is found in Overlease and Overlease (1976).The relative uniform dominance by Sugar Maple is a common feature of these forests today. American Elm has been virtually eliminated as a crown cover species in the county by the Dutch Elm disease.