The Indiana Dunes are a marvelous example of biotic progression. This area has over 1100 species of plants - some not found anywhere else in the region. This is more than any other US National Park! Many plants such as the predacious Pitcher plant, Barberry, and Prickly Pear cactus thrive in the unique conditions of the dunes and bogs of this area.
Most of the stages of biotic progression are displayed here. From open sand beaches to Oak forests - and you can walk through them in a matter of minutes! Beginning at the lakeshore and heading inland, the open sand beaches turn into Marram Grass covered dunes, then further inland, other species of plants begin to take hold as decades of decaying grasses add nutrients to the sand. Pucoon, Spiderwart and Juniper begin to grow once the sand becomes a bit more nutrient rich. Cottonwood trees and woody shubs then take over. Further away, Pine forested dunes can be found, and then Oak forested dunes thrive in the richer soil created by thousands of years of plant decay. Oak savannas and prairies, bogs, swamps and wetlands are also part of the picture.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore changes almost weekly! Lake Michigan pounds the shoreline, altering the dunes and beach, while winds and storms easily uproot the mature trees growing in the sandy soil farther inland.