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coniferous trees, natural flora, giant sequoia, mixed forest, boreal forest

The natural vegetation of North America has been significantly modified by human activity, but its general nature is still apparent over much of the continent. The most notable forest is the taiga, or boreal forest, an enormous expanse of mostly coniferous trees (especially spruce, fir, hemlock, and larch) that covers most of southern and central Canada and extends into Alaska. In the eastern United States a mixed forest, dominated by deciduous trees in the north and by various species of yellow pine in the southeast, has mostly been cleared or cut over, but a considerable area has regrown since the 1940s. In the western portion of the continent, forests are primarily associated with mountain ranges, and coniferous trees are dominant. In California, the redwood and giant sequoia grow to enormous size. A great mixture of species characterizes the tropical forests of Mexico.

The vegetation cover in the drier parts of the continent is made up mainly of grassland and shrubland. The central plains and prairies of the United States and southern Canada were originally grass covered, but much of the natural flora has been replaced by commercial crops. The dry lands of the western United States and northern Mexico are sparsely covered with a variety of shrubs and many kinds of cactus. Beyond the tree line in the far north is a region of tundra, containing a mixture of low-growing sedges, grasses, mosses, and lichens.

Article key phrases:

coniferous trees, natural flora, giant sequoia, mixed forest, boreal forest, deciduous trees, taiga, shrubland, tree line, lichens, grassland, mosses, enormous size, larch, hemlock, central Canada, fir, central plains, mountain ranges, western United States, northern Mexico, redwood, eastern United States, prairies, grasses, spruce, human activity, vegetation, continent, Alaska, California

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