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Diervilla lonicera - Solidago simplex var. randii - Deschampsia flexuosa - Hylotelephium telephioides - Saxifraga michauxii Grassland
Translated Name: Northern Bush-honeysuckle - Rand's Goldenrod - Wavy Hairgrass - Allegheny Stonecrop - Michaux's Saxifrage Grassland
Common Name: High-Elevation Greenstone Barrens
Unique Identifier: CEGL008536
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is known only from a few high-elevation mafic rock outcrops in the northern Virginia Blue Ridge. All known sites are located in Shenandoah National Park. This community type is associated with exposed rocky summits and upper slope outcrops of Catoctin Formation metabasalt (greenstone) at elevations from 870 to 1230 m (2860-4040 feet). Slope shape is typically convex in at least one direction, and aspect varies from west to north. The vegetation is characterized by a patchwork of shrub thickets (typically <25% cover), herbaceous mats (typically <40% cover), and crustose lichen colonies on exposed rock surfaces. The most frequent woody species include extremely stunted, wind-blasted specimens of the trees Betula alleghaniensis and Sorbus americana; characteristic shrubs and woody vines are Diervilla lonicera, Physocarpus opulifolius, Prunus pensylvanica, Prunus virginiana, Kalmia latifolia, and Smilax tamnoides. Deschampsia flexuosa and Solidago simplex var. randii are the most frequent dominant herbaceous species, but Sibbaldiopsis tridentata, Saxifraga michauxii, Carex pensylvanica, and Hylotelephium telephioides dominate in some areas.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This type (CEGL008536) was formerly represented, in part, by the now-obsolete Saxifraga michauxii - Solidago simplex var. randii - Sibbaldiopsis tridentata Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL004941). Recent multivariate analyses of a 956-plot dataset by the Virginia Dept. of Conservation / Division of Natural Heritage strongly supports the segregation of this type from vegetation documented south of Shenandoah National Park on the granitic summit of Spy Rock (Nelson County) and the amphibolite summit of Buffalo Mountain (Floyd County). The barrens of these two sites have been classified as Minuartia groenlandica - Paronychia argyrocoma - Saxifraga michauxii Grassland (CEGL008509). Several additional high-elevation greenstone outcrops in the park (e.g., Pass Mountain, Mount Marshall, Hightop) and elsewhere (e.g., Humpback Rocks, Nelson County) support Photinia melanocarpa - Gaylussacia baccata / Carex pensylvanica Shrubland (CEGL008508). Vegetation of CEGL008508 is characterized by rhizomatous colonies of the low shrubs Photinia melanocarpa and Gaylussacia baccata and has a lower herb diversity and overall species richness than CEGL008536. Vegetation of the Stony Man seepage area was formerly recognized as a distinct type, Physocarpus opulifolius / Calamagrostis canadensis Shrub Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL004253) but is now regarded as a variant of CEGL008536.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.B - Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland
Formation 2.B.2 - Temperate Grassland & Shrubland
Division 2.B.2.Nc - Eastern North American Grassland & Shrubland
Macrogroup Appalachian Rocky Felsic & Mafic Scrub & Grassland
Group Appalachian Mafic Glade
Alliance Southern Appalachian Mafic Shrubland

This is the revised vegetation hierarchy. For more information see Classification Sources and usnvc.org.

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL008509 Minuartia groenlandica - Paronychia argyrocoma - Saxifraga michauxii Grassland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Related Subnational Community Units
These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.
In the U.S., contact the state Heritage Program for the most complete and up-to-date information at: http://www.natureserve.org/natureserve-network.
Information from programs in other jurisdictions will be posted when they are made available.
Subnation Concept Name Relationship to Standard Confidence Reference
Tennessee Diervilla lonicera - Solidago simplex var. randii - Deschampsia flexuosa - Hylotelephium telephioides - Saxifraga michauxii Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Diervilla lonicera - Solidago simplex var. randii - Deschampsia flexuosa - Hylotelephium telephioides - Saxifraga michauxii Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., A. Belden, Jr., K. E. Heffernan, A. C. Chazal, N. E. Van Alstine, and E. M. Butler. 2007a. A natural heritage inventory of the rock outcrops of Shenandoah National Park. Unpublished report submitted to the National Park Service. Natural Heritage Technical Report 07-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 433 pp. plus appendixes.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.
Related Concept Name: High-Elevation Outcrop Barren
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.348 Southern and Central Appalachian Mafic Glade and Barrens


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1 (03Oct2001)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This is a naturally rare, small-patch community type limited by special habitat requirements. Currently, habitats supporting this unit are known from less than 20 discrete outcrops which together form five complexes or occurrences (Franklin Cliffs, Hawksbill, Crescent Rocks, Stony Man Mountain, Mount Marshall). Total coverage of all known occurrences is probably <12 hectares (30 acres). It is unlikely that any additional occurrences will be found, and these would not significantly increase the aggregate acreage of the type.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: TNpotentially occurs, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is known only from a few high-elevation mafic rock outcrops in the northern Virginia Blue Ridge. All known sites are located in Shenandoah National Park. Most occurrences are in the higher, central section of the park, from the Big Meadows Area on the south to Stony Man Mountain on the north. A somewhat disjunct stand occurs on Mount Marshall in the northern section of the park.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest - Coniferous Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The vegetation is characterized by a patchwork of shrub thickets (typically <25% cover), herbaceous mats (typically <40% cover), and crustose lichen colonies on exposed rock surfaces. The most frequent woody species include extremely stunted, wind-blasted specimens of the trees Betula alleghaniensis and Sorbus americana; stunted trees of Abies balsamea also occur at several sites. Characteristic shrubs and woody vines are Diervilla lonicera, Physocarpus opulifolius, Prunus pensylvanica, Prunus virginiana, Kalmia latifolia, and Smilax tamnoides. Deschampsia flexuosa and Solidago simplex var. randii are usually the dominant herbaceous species, with mean cover in plot samples of 10-25% and 5-10%, respectively. Sibbaldiopsis tridentata is abundant (up to 25% cover) in a subset of sites but is absent from about half of the known sites. Other relatively constant and characteristic herbaceous species are Campanula divaricata, Carex pensylvanica, Heuchera pubescens, Hylotelephium telephioides (= Sedum telephioides), Phlox subulata, Poa compressa, Polypodium appalachianum, and Saxifraga michauxii. Inconstant but locally prominent herbaceous species include Allium cernuum, Angelica triquinata, Arabis lyrata, Houstonia longifolia, Danthonia spicata, Liatris turgida, and Saxifraga virginiensis. The grass Calamagrostis canadensis is abundant in the local seepage area on Stony Man Mountain, Virginia. Mean species richness of 15 plot-sampled stands is 27 taxa per 100 square meters. Several boreal lichens, including Melanelia stygia, Porpidia lowiana, Porpidia tuberculosa, and Rhizocarpon geographicum occur abundantly on metabasalt outcrops within this community type. The following Virginia state-rare plants are associated with this community: Abies balsamea, Clematis occidentalis, Conioselinum chinense, Gymnocarpium appalachianum, Huperzia appalachiana, Juncus trifidus, Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus, Sibbaldiopsis tridentata, Solidago simplex var. randii, and Trisetum spicatum.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Abies balsamea G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Sorbus americana G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Diervilla lonicera G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Physocarpus opulifolius G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus G1 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata G1 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Conioselinum chinense G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Heuchera caroliniana G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Heuchera pubescens G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Liatris turgida G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Micranthes petiolaris G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Rumex acetosella G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Solidago simplex var. randii G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Gymnocarpium appalachianum G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Huperzia appalachiana G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Hylotelephium telephioides G1 Succulent forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Deschampsia flexuosa G1 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Juncus trifidus G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Poa compressa G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Trisetum spicatum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Clematis occidentalis G1 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 
Melanelia stygia G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Porpidia tuberculosa G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Gymnocarpium appalachianum
  (Appalachian Oak Fern)
G3  
Heuchera caroliniana
  (Carolina Alumroot)
G3  
Liatris turgida
  (Turgid Gayfeather)
G3  
Porpidia tuberculosa
  (Boulder Lichen)
G2G4  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community type is associated with exposed rocky summits and upper slope outcrops of Catoctin Formation metabasalt (greenstone) at elevations from 870 to 1230 m (2860-4040 feet). Mean elevation of nine plot-sampled stands is 1068 m (3506 feet); an exceptional occurrence on the north slope of Mount Marshall is situated at an unusually low elevation of 870 m (2860 feet). Slope shape is typically convex in at least one direction, and aspect varies from west to north. Mean surface cover of bedrock and loose rocks at sample sites is 69%, while mean lichen / moss cover on these rocks is 42%. The moisture regime of these sites is xeric, and soil development is limited to shallow accumulations of disintegrated rock and humus on shelves and in crevices. However, an ephemeral spring seep with seasonally wet moss mats is present at one site (Stony Man Mountain). These habitats are periodically exposed to extreme winter temperatures, high winds, and ice. Soil samples extracted from plot locations are extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.0) but often have moderately high levels of calcium, magnesium, and manganese and high levels of aluminum (mean = 1577 ppm).


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson, L.A. Sneddon and G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 01Feb2008
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Oct2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): K.D. Patterson

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Fleming, G. P., A. Belden, Jr., K. E. Heffernan, A. C. Chazal, N. E. Van Alstine, and E. M. Butler. 2007a. A natural heritage inventory of the rock outcrops of Shenandoah National Park. Unpublished report submitted to the National Park Service. Natural Heritage Technical Report 07-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 433 pp. plus appendixes.

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2011a. Natural communities of Virginia: Ecological groups and community types. Natural Heritage Technical Report 11-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 34 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.

  • TDNH [Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage]. No date. Unpublished data. Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2006. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report (v.1.1). Research technical report prepared for USDI, National Park Service. USGS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. 92 pp. plus appendices.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, W. Cass, and C. Lea. 2009. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients, Version 2.0. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2009/142. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.


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