Presque Isle State Park is indeed widely known as a unique area - not only in Pennsylvania, but in the United States. This reputation is due in large part to the diverse vegetative habitats and the unusual number of species of special concern.
Botanical records show that there has been widespread interest in the unusual
vegetation of Presque Isle State Park. Early herbarium specimens that date back
to 1868 document the presence of 630 plant species on the park. Records show
that historically 78 of Pennsylvania's plants of special concern have occurred at Presque Isle State Park. There are 16 species of special concern from historic records
that have not been found within the last 50 years and eight species that have been extirpated from the park and Commonwealth.
The University of Pittsburgh established a lake laboratory on the peninsula to study vegetation and zones of succession. The study was discontinued in the late 1950s due to heavy impacts from recreational uses of the area and poor conditions of
Four forest types encompassing 1,392 acres are recognized on Presque Isle State Park. These forest types are the mixed oak, northern hardwoods, pine plantation, and cottonwood. Approximately 190 acres of the park are in mixed oak type which consists of red oak
and black oak. The northern hardwood type contains 204 acres with black cherry and red maple. The pine plantation contains approximately 92 acres with the dominant species being Scotch pine with scattered pitch pine and white pine. The remaining forested area of 690 acres consists of eastern cottonwood.
The old fields and savannahs encompass 39 acres on Presque Isle State Park. Old fields consist primarily of bayberry, Indiangrass, and various species of goldenrod. The savannahs are dominated by Indiangrass, little bluestem, and switchgrass.
The wetlands of Presque Isle State Park are a highly complex, extremely vulnerable system and are some of the best and most extensive wetlands in Pennsylvania. Wetlands are invaluable as a habitat for waterfowl, fish, and all other wildlife. They serve as a sanctuary for rare and endangered species, and are an asset for their educational, recreational, and aesthetic values. Wetlands comprise 458 acres on Presque Isle State Park. The major species found in the wooded swamps are black gum and red maple. The shrub swamps are dominated by buttonbush. The marshes and wet meadows are characterized by sedges, cattails, bur-reed, phragmites, spatterdock, and fragrant white lily. (Presque Isle Resource Management Plan, 2003)