BLACK BELT SOILS OF ALABAMA

Here is a map of the Black Belt Area that extends as a belt from Sumter County in west Alabama to parts of Russell and Barbour Counties on the Georgia border.

The purple band is known as the "Black Belt" because of the dark surface colors of many of the soils. These soils were derived from alkaline, Selma chalk or acid marine clays. Acid and alkaline soils are intermingled throughout the area. Sumter soils, which are typical of the alkaline soils, are clayey throughout and have a dark-colored surface layer and a yellowish colored subsoil. Oktibbeha soils are acid and clayey throughout. They have red subsoils and light-colored surface layers. The clayey Wilcox, Mayhew, and Eutaw soils are the dominant soils of the rolling pine woodlands along the southern edge of the "Prairie." They are acid and are somewhat poorly drained or poorly drained. They are locally known as "flatwoods" or "post oak clays." The clayey soils contain a large percentage of montmorillonitic clays and they shrink and crack when dry and swell when wet. The area is level to undulating. Elevation is about 200 feet. Soybeans are the major crop. Most of these soils are used for timber production and pasture.

Below is a list of trees that will tolerate a pH of at least 8. Trees are noted for their disease resistance, easy availability, cold hardiness, and other practical considerations:

  • Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
  • Autumn Gold ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'Autumn Gold')
  • Lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia)
  • Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Oklahoma redbud (Cercis reneformia 'Oklahoma')
  • Golden-rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata )
  • Shademaster honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos 'Shademaster')
  • Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
  • Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioica)
  • Greenspire little-leaf linden (Tilia cordata 'Greenspire')
  • Littleleaf boxwood (Buxus microphylla)
  • Mock orange (Philadelphus coranarius)
  • Chinkapin oak (Quercus muhlenbergii)

The following plants are suitable for shallow soils over chalk:

  • Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Sweet shrub (Calycanthus floridus)
  • Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
  • Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica)
  • Japanese Cherry (Prunus)
  • Althea (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica)
  • Barberries (Berberis spp.)
  • Nandina (Nandina domestica)
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
  • Rose Mallow or Tree Hollyhock (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Petrovskia atriplicifolia
  • Iris
  • Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale)
  • Toadflax (Linaria purpurea)
  • Salvia (Salvia x superba)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa caucasica)
  • Caryopteris x clandonensis
  • Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma willmottianum)
  • Burning Bush (Dictamnus albus)
  • Tick-seed (Coreopsis verticillata)
  • Tick-seed (Coreopsis tinctoria)
  • Stonecrop (Sedum)
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
  • Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum carinatum)
  • Gysophila elegans
  • Convolvulus tricolor
  • Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)
  • Rose of Heaven (Silene coeli-rosa)
  • Pink (Dianthus x allwoodii)
  • Salvia (Salvia splendens)
  • Chinese or Indian Pink (Dianthus chinensis)
  • Grape Hyacinth (Muscari botryoides)
  • Iris reticulata
  • Prunus
  • Rhus typhina 'laciniata'
  • Chimonanthus praecox
  • Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
  • Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)
  • Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus)
  • Sandwanka viburnum (Viburnum suspensum)
  • Pineapple guava (Feijoa Sellowiana)
  • Thuja occidentalis
  • Euonymus europaeus
  • Euonymus alatus
  • Achillea
  • Weigela florida
  • Juniperis x media 'Pfitzerana Aurea'
  • Yucca (Yucca filamentosa)
  • Artemisia arborescens
  • Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)
  • Gaillardia
  • Saponaria vaccaria
  • Hypericum x moserianum 'Tricolor'
  • Crocus (Crocus imperati)
  • Phlox (Phlox subulata)
  • Syringa lacinata
  • Cutleaf lilac (Syringa lacinata)
  • Thick-leafed lilac (Syringa oblata)
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus)
  • Weeping Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula')
  • Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Lynwood')
  • St. John's Wart (Hypericum patulum 'Hidcote')
  • Deutzia x rosea and other Duetzia spp.
  • Saxifrage (Saxifraga longifolia)
  • Anemone blanda 'Mixed')
  • Bellflower (Campanula cochlearifolia)
  • Giant Bellflower (Campanula latifolia)
  • Malus 'Profusion'
  • Laurus nobilis
  • Sambucus nigra 'Aurea'
  • Philadelphus coronarius
  • Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragantissima)
  • Stachys machrantha
  • Crataegus oxyacantha
  • Buxus sempervirens
  • Cornus mas
  • Hedera hesix
  • Ligustrum ovalifolium 'Aureum'
  • Deutzia scabra
  • Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum
  • Aucuba japonica
  • Spirea x bumalda 'Anthony Waterer'
  • Bridal-wreath spirea (Spirea prunifolia)
  • Needlepoint holly(Ilex cornuta Needlepoint)
  • Firehorns(Pyracantha spp.)
  • Burford holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii')
  • Cotoneaster horizontalis
  • Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa'
  • Hypericum calycinum
  • Vinca (Vinca major 'Variegata')
  • Vinca (Vinca minor)
  • Cotoneaster dammeri
  • Mahonia aquifolium and spp.
  • Lamium galeobdolon 'Variegatum'
  • Ulmus parviflora)