Striebig Photography & Design | Virginia Shale Barrens

The shale barrens are as you may have guessed outcrops of shale rock, but with a unique mix of woodlands, shrublands, and open herbaceous rock outcrops that occur in the central Appalachian Mountains. These small ecosystems can be found in western Virginia, eastern West Virginia, west-central Maryland, and south-central Pennsylvania. Steep slopes and broken shale create sparsely vegetated hillsides of bare bedrock that easily visible. A closer look though, surprises the wanderer with a diverse array of color in the spring. The shale barrens host a variety of rare plant species such as shale barren wild buckwheat (Eriogonum allenii), shale barren evening-primrose (Oenothera argillicola), shale barren ragwort (Packera antennariifolia, Senecio antennariifolius), and Kate's Mountain clover (Trifolium virginicum). Other more common plant species that thrive in the Virginia shale barrens include Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium), poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), wavy hairgrass (Avenella flexuosa), moss phlox (Phlox subulata), mountain nailwort (Paronychia montana), rock spikemoss (Bryodesma rupestre), shale barren pussytoes (Antennaria virginica), dwarf cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis), smooth sunflower (Helianthus laevigatus), false boneset (Brickellia eupatorioides var. eupatorioides), hairy wood mint (Blephilia ciliata), and western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum var. capitatum).