The Kentucky River Palisades are a series of steep, scenic gorges and limestone outcroppings that stretch for approximately 100 mi (160 km), along the Kentucky River in central Kentucky in the United States.
The Palisades are considered by environmentalists to form a unique ecosystem in the region. Both the topography, soil, and tree composition are different from the surrounding rolling plains. The display of spring ephemeral wildflowers is especially extravagant due to the rich limestone soils. The deep cliffs provide a habitat for four species of endangered bats as well as several rare and endangered plant species. The steep cliffs surrounding the Kentucky River harbor the largest concentration of forest within the Inner Bluegrass, which is otherwise developed or cleared. Blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) and sugar maple (Acer sacharum) are abundant on the steep limestone slopes, along with less common trees like rock elm (Ulmus thomasi), yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea) and yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra). Sites on old sandy river terraces and bluff-top ridges have more acid or infertile soils and harbor beech (Fagus) and tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) trees more common in Appalachian Kentucky. Other uncommon tree species found in the Palisades include Paxistima, Chokecherry, and various types of Viburnums.
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