Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

Natural World



Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site and Boyhood Home at Knob Creek are geographically comprised of upland bluff, north-facing rich slope, south-facing dry slope, stream corridor and cultivated habitat. Both units combined are relatively small when compared to other national parks in Kentucky. A total of 112 bird species have been observed in the park. Migrants such as the blue-headed vireo and swamp sparrow can occasionally be seen at Knob Creek along with other regular transients like the osprey and northern harrier. These transients raise the possible number of species that may be seen here to approximately 132 species. The park is mostly limited to species that prefer edges and small woodlots. The most numerous of these species include the common grackle, indigo bunting and red-eyed vireo. Additional woodlots species such as chickadees, titmice and tanagers can be viewed here. No federally or state listed species are found on the park, but a few other species of note were detected during the bird survey. Both Chuck-will's Widow and Whip-poor-will are present on the Knob Creek unit and can be heard from the parking lot at night. Louisiana waterthrushes are present along the streams at Knob Creek and seem well established. During winter the park primarily hosts wandering woodlot songbird flocks consisting of common species such as golden-crowned kinglets, white-throated sparrows and slate-colored juncos. The most interesting winter birds are finches. Purple finch, pine siskin and red-breasted nuthatch can be viewed near the Visitor Center. The park is also host to three species of owls. Great horned, barred and eastern screech owl are all found on the Knob Creek Unit with screech owls noted during the day on the Birthplace Unit.




No longer do the bear and large herbivores like the American bison and elk roam the area of Kentucky that is now Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, but visitors may encounter other mammals at the park. Some of the more common mammals are white-tailed deer, raccoon, and gray squirrel. Keep a sharp eye open and you may also see some of the smaller animals of the park such as a pine vole, eastern chipmunk or a cottontail. Some types of animals are seen less often such as the coyote or red fox. Depending on the time of day you might catch a glimpse of a little brown bat helping to control insects.




Amphibians are interesting creatures to observe in their natural habitats. Many species are highly adapted for life on land. As a group, however, amphibians are semi-aquatic and water is essential for their survival.

In order to successfully observe amphibians:

  • Walk slowly and avoid sudden movements and loud noises.
  • Listen-Different frogs and toads "sing" in different months and temperatures. Spring is the perfect time to hear them.
  • Note the size, color and patterns so identification can be successful.
  • Many salamanders are nocturnal and can be found under rocks or fallen trees. Beware! Poisonous animals like some snakes and spiders like these hiding places too. So please, do not disturb.





Trees and Shrubs




Trees and Shrubs

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site has a large number of trees and shrubs that might catch your attention. The trees here are mostly hardwoods that display their beautiful colors in the fall. They also produce nuts and berries that attract wildlife to the area.

Family Pinaceae – Pine family
Pinus strobes/  Eastern white pine
Pinus virginiana/  Virginia pine

Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Family Caprifoliaceae – Honeysuckle family
Lonicera japonica/  Japanese honeysuckle
Lonicera maackii/  Amur honeysuckle
Diervilla spp./  Bush honeysuckle
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis/  Common elderberry
Viburnum prunifolium/ Smooth blackhaw
Viburnum rufidulum/ Rusty blackhaw

Family Smilacaceae – Catbrier family
Smilax bona-nox/  Saw greenbrier
Smilax glauca/  Cat greenbrier
Smilax herbacea/  Smooth herbaceous greenbrier
Smilax rotundifolia/  Roundleaf greenbrier
Smilax tamnoides/  Bristly greenbrier

Family Bignoniaceae – Trumpet creeper family
Campsis radicans/  Trumpet creeper

Family Oleaceae – Olive family
Fraxinus americana/  White ash
Fraxinux quadrangulata/  Blue ash
Ligustrum sinense/  Chinese privet

Family Ebenaceae – Ebony family
Diospryros virginiana/  Common persimmon

Family Ericaceae – Heath family
Rhododendron catawbiense/ Catawba rhododendron
Vaccinium arboreum/  Farkleberry
Vaccinium pallidum/  Blue Ridge blueberry
Vaccinium stamineum/  Deerberry

Family Betulaceae – Birch family
Carpinus caroliniana/  American hornbeam
Corylus americana/  American hazelnut
Ostrya virginiana/  Hophornbeam

Family Fagaceae – Beech family
Castanea dentata/  American chestnut
Fagus grandifolia/  American beech
Quercus alba/  White oak
Quercus falcata/  Southern red oak
Quercus imbricaria/  Shingle oak
Quercus lyrata/  Overcup oak
Quercus marilandica/  Blackjack oak
Quercus muehlenbergii/  Chinkapin oak
Quercus prinus/  Chestnut oak
Quercus rubra/  Northern red oak
Quercus stellata/  Post oak
Quercus velutina/  Black oak

Family Hamaelidaceae – Witch-hazel family
Liquidambar styraciflua/  Sweetgum
Hamamelis virginiana/  American witch-hazel

Family Platanaceae – Plane-tree family
Platanus occidentalis/  American sycamore

Family Juglandaceae – Walnut family
Juglans nigra/  Black walnut
Carya cordiformis/  Bitternut hickory
Carya glabra/  Pignut hickory
Carya ovata/  Shagbark hickory
Carya pallida/  Sand hickory

Family Moraceae – Mulberry family
Morus alba/  Mulberry
Morus rubra/  Red mulberry

Family Ulmaceae – Elm family
Celtis laevigata/  Sugarberry
Celtis occidentalis/  Common hackberry
Ulmus americana/  American elm
Ulmus rubra/  Slippery elm

Family Lauraceae – Laurel family
Lindera benzoin/  Northern spicebush
Sassafras albidum/  Sassafras

Family Annonaceae – Custard-apple family
Asimina triloba/  Pawpaw

Family Magnoliaceae – Magnolia family
Liriodendron tulipifera/  Tuliptree

Family Menispermaceae – Moonseed family
Menispermum canadense/ Common moonseed

Family Aquifoliaceae – Holly family
Ilex opaca/  American holly

Family Celastraceae – Bittersweet family
Euonymus americanus/  American strawberry-bush
Euonymus atropurpureus/  Eastern burningbush

Family Cornaceae – Dogwood family
Cornus drummondii/  Roughleaf dogwood
Cornus florida/  Flowering dogwood
Cornus racemosa/  Gray dogwood

Family Fabaceae – Pea family
Cercis canadensis/  Eastern redbud
Gleditsia triacanthos/  Honeylocust
Robinia pseudoacacia/  Black locust

Family Elaeagnaceae – Oleaster family
Elaeagnus umbellata/  Autumn olive

Family Rhamnaceae – Buckthorn family
Frangula caroliniana/  Carolina buckthorn

Family Vitaceae – Grape family
Parthenocissus quinquefolia/ Virginia creeper
Vitis cinerea/  Pigeon grape
Vitis labrusca/  Northern fox grape
Vitis riparia/  Riverbank grape
Vitis rotundifolia/  Muscadine

Family Hydrangeaceae – Hydrangea family
Hydrangea arborescens/ Wild hydrangea

Family Rosaceae – Rose family
Amelanchier arborea/  Common serviceberry
Prunus americana/  American plum
Prunus serotina/  Black cherry
Rosa carolina/  Carolina rose
Rosa multiflora/  Multiflora rose
Rubus argutus/ Sawtooth blackberry
Rubus flagellaris/ Northern dewberry
Rubus occidentalis/ Black raspberry

Family Aceraceae – Maple family
Acer rubrum/  Red maple
Acer saccharum/  Sugar maple
Acer negundo/  Box elder

Family Anacardiaceae – Sumac family
Rhus aromatica/  Fragrant sumac
Rhus copallinum/  Winged sumac
Toxicodendron radicans/  Eastern poison ivy

Family Hippocastanaceae -- Horse chestnut family
Aesculus octandra/ Yellow buckeye


Coniferophyta - Conifers
Family Cupressaceae – Cypress family
Juniperus virginiana/ Eastern red cedar



Abraham Lincoln Birthplace is just a small part of the public lands that make up America's wildflower gardens. Plants and plant communities are critically important to humans and their environment. The many roles that they play range from subtle to obvious. The wildflowers of this area have great aesthetic value. Wildflowers beautify our world. They provide food for animals and like other plants that dot the hillsides they protect the soil from rain damage by holding the soil in place with their root systems. Like any treasure, they must be protected for all to enjoy.

You can be a steward of these resources by:

  • Taking only photographs and memories when you leave.
  • Treading lightly and staying on the trails.
  • Leaving the flowers for others to enjoy.

Examples of the flowers you might see at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace and The Boyhood Home at Knob Creek:

White Flowers 
Whorled milkweed
Wild carrot    
Spotted wintergreen
White snakeroot 

Yellow Flowers
Greyhead prairie coneflower 
Blackeyed susan  
Kidney-leaf buttercup

Pink to Red Flowers
Purple coneflower 
Fire pink 
Field thistle
Bare stemmed ticktrefoil

Orange Flowers

Blue Flowers
Tall bellflower 
Dwarf larkspur
Blue mistflower

Green to Brown Flowers
Blue cohosh



Approximately 90 species of trees, shrubs and woody vines take root in the park. These plants provide the necessary shelter for wildlife and food for herbivores, or animals that eat plants. During spring several of the shrubs and smaller trees such as flowering dogwood, eastern redbud and catawba rhododendron provide splashes of color in the forest understory. Bird populations are attracted to the many variety of trees and shrubs providing berries such as black cherry while nut producing trees such as black walnuts attract squirrels and white-tailed deer. Visitors should take precautions since one of the prevalent vines in the area is poison ivy which some mistake for Virginia creeper.

Wildflowers, grasses and herbs are important species that grace the open spaces of the fields at Knob Creek and along the pathways of nature trails at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace. From the beginning of the spring to the end of the warm season, wildflowers provide nature with a brilliant display of color. Nectar produced by the flowers is food for bees, butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds. Keep your eyes open to catch a glimpse of gray-headed coneflowers, asters and fire pinks.