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  See the Forest for the Trees: The Trees, Flowers, and Fungi of Cook Forest
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If you've ever hiked through a forest at dawn, it's likely you experienced the part of the forest that often goes unnoticed.

Dense Forests of Cook Forest State Park

When the moss and leaves are still glistening with moist dew and the silver trails from a slow-moving slug, the forest displays its complex network of plants, trees, flowers, and fungi that are easily overlooked when the sun is high in the sky. This rich botany, or flora, is the basis for the existence of the forest and all of the living things within it.

Walking through Cook Forest, especially in the early hours, you can find a world of magical and mystical-looking plant life. Here's a sampling of the thousands of species of flora waiting for you to explore them.


White pine - These towering evergreens are the trademark of The Cook Forest. Pinus strobus, found primarily in Eastern North America, has irregular branches, gray bark, and soft wood. It was the white pines that caused Anthony Cook to settle in the area in the early nineteenth century and build his sawmill. The trees were used to build homes for the droves of adventurers moving westward. The work is still the favorite of many woodworkers for interior trim and cabinetwork today.

White Pine, Hemlock, and Other Evergreens

Hemlock - These enormous coniferous evergreen trees are common in The Cook Forest. They belong to the genus Tsuga, of the family Pinaceae native to North America and Asia. It's also Pennsylvania's state tree. T. canadensis, the variety common to Eastern North America, has small cones, soft bark, and short, dark leaves. In The Forest Cathedral, one of the oldest areas of Cook Forest, you'll find some of Pennsylvania's largest hemlock trees. Though a storm in 1956 and a tornado in 1976 destroyed many of the older trees, some ancient timbers are 350 years old and stand up to 200 feet high.

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