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Taxodium ascendens / (Nyssa biflora) / Leucothoe racemosa - Lyonia lucida - Morella cerifera Swamp Forest
Translated Name: Pond-cypress / (Swamp Tupelo) / Swamp Doghobble - Shining Fetterbush - Wax-myrtle Swamp Forest
Common Name: Pond-cypress Depression Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL007420
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This forested community occurs in poorly drained to permanently wet depressions surrounded by upland or saturated wetland communities, primarily pine flatwoods, but it rarely can occur in floodplain depressions of blackwater rivers (i.e., Styx River, Baldwin County, Alabama). Examples often have a characteristic dome-shaped appearance resulting from the largest, highest trees occurring in the center with smaller trees around the margins. It occurs in peaty depressions on the Coastal Plain from North Carolina and South Carolina through Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi to eastern Louisiana. This community occurs on acidic sand overlain by an organic layer. Size ranges from one to several hundred acres. Taxodium ascendens is the most conspicuous tree in the canopy; Pinus elliottii var. elliottii can sometimes be present or codominant. Nyssa biflora frequently occurs in the subcanopy but may occur as a canopy species. Shrubs occur on hummocks which form around cypress buttresses and knees. This stratum may be made up of one or several species of Leucothoe racemosa, Cyrilla racemiflora, Itea virginica, Lyonia lucida, Litsea aestivalis, Hypericum fasciculatum, Clethra alnifolia, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera), Ilex cassine, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Persea palustris, and more. Shrubs form a distinct understory with increasing distance from the center depression. Carex spp. and Sphagnum spp. occur on the thin, peaty muck. Other ground cover is scattered on hummocks, and includes Woodwardia virginica, Saururus cernuus, and Lachnanthes caroliana. Density increases with proximity to the community's edge. Pieris phillyreifolia, an epiphytic shrub-vine may occur on the Taxodium ascendens trees, and Tillandsia usneoides, are often abundant in some parts of the range.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.3 - Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Division 1.B.3.Nb - Southeastern North American Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Pond-cypress Basin Swamp
Group Pond-cypress Basin Swamp
Alliance Pond-cypress Mixed Shrub Depression Swamp Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL007418 Taxodium ascendens / Ilex myrtifolia Swamp Forest
CEGL007419 Taxodium ascendens / Ilex myrtifolia / Carex (striata, turgescens) Stringer Swamp Forest
CEGL007434 Nyssa biflora / Itea virginica - Cephalanthus occidentalis Swamp Forest



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
Alabama Taxodium ascendens / (Nyssa biflora) / Leucothoe racemosa - Lyonia lucida - Morella cerifera Depression Forest Equivalent Certain Schotz pers. comm.
Florida Dome Swamp Broader   FNAI 1997
Louisiana Slash Pine-Cypress/Hardwood Forest Broader   Smith 1996
North Carolina Coastal Plain Depression Swamp (Mixed Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
South Carolina Pond Cypress Pond Undetermined   Nelson 1986


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Cypress Pond
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Wharton, C. H. 1978. The natural environments of Georgia. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta. 227 pp.
Related Concept Name: IIA3a. Pondcypress Dome and Swamp Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Allard, D. J. 1990. Southeastern United States ecological community classification. Interim report, Version 1.2. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC. 96 pp.
Related Concept Name: Nonriverine Swamp Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Oberholster, C. 1993. Preliminary list of natural communities of Alabama. Unpublished document. Alabama Department Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Section, Montgomery, AL. 6 pp.
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.
Related Concept Name: Pond Cypress Pond Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.
Related Concept Name: Pondcypress (23)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.
Related Concept Name: Pondcypress: 100
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.
Related Concept Name: Slash Pine-Cypress/Hardwood Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Smith, L. M., compiler. 1996a. Natural plant communities in Louisiana currently recognized by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished document. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 2 pp.
Related Concept Name: Small Depression Swamp (Mixed Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.247 Atlantic Coastal Plain Blackwater Stream Floodplain Forest
CES203.251 Southern Coastal Plain Nonriverine Cypress Dome
CES203.262 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Depression Pond


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (23Jan2001)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This community is fairly widespread in occurrence in the East Gulf Coastal Plain, Florida Peninsula, and southern Atlantic Coastal Plain. It occurs in what were historically fire-maintained landscapes, and most occurrences nowadays have fire-suppressed conditions. Additionally, as a community which occurred in longleaf pine flatwood landscapes, this community has suffered from the extreme reduction in longleaf and associated communities.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs in peaty depressions on the Coastal Plain from North Carolina and South Carolina through Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi to eastern Louisiana.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 232 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Florida Coastal Lowlands (Western) Section
Section Code: 232D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Taxodium ascendens is the most conspicuous tree in the canopy. Nyssa biflora frequently occurs in the subcanopy (Monk and Brown 1965, Clewell 1971, 1981), but may occur as a canopy species. Shrubs occur on hummocks which form around cypress buttresses and knees. This stratum may be made up of one or several species of Leucothoe racemosa, Cyrilla racemiflora, Itea virginica, Lyonia lucida, Hypericum fasciculatum, Clethra alnifolia, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera), Ilex cassine, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Persea palustris, and more. Shrubs form a distinct understory with increasing distance from the center depression (Monk and Brown 1965, Clewell 1971). Carex spp. and Sphagnum spp. occur on the thin, peaty muck. Other ground cover is scattered on hummocks, and includes Woodwardia virginica, Saururus cernuus, and Lachnanthes caroliana. Density increases with proximity to the community's edge. Pieris phillyreifolia, an epiphytic shrub-vine may occur on the Taxodium ascendens trees, and Tillandsia usneoides, are often abundant in some parts of the range.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Taxodium ascendens G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree (canopy & subcanopy)    
 
 
Acer rubrum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Nyssa biflora G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Magnolia virginiana G3 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Pinus elliottii G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Litsea aestivalis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Pieris phillyreifolia G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cephalanthus occidentalis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Cyrilla racemiflora G3 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Itea virginica G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Leucothoe racemosa G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ilex cassine G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Lyonia lucida G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Morella cerifera G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Saururus cernuus G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Woodwardia virginica G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Litsea aestivalis
  (Pondspice)
G3?  
Pieris phillyreifolia
  (Climbing Fetterbush)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This forested community occurs in poorly drained to permanently wet depressions surrounded by upland or saturated wetland communities, primarily pine flatwoods, but it rarely can occur in floodplain depressions of blackwater rivers (i.e., Styx River, Baldwin County, Alabama) (NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern U.S. unpubl. data). Pools of stagnant acidic water stand in these depressions, with deepest water in the center (1-4 feet deep) and shallower near the margins. The outer edges of the community may dry down completely in the spring. Sites in north-central Florida are underlain by an impervious clay pan which impedes drainage and traps precipitation. It occurs on acidic sand overlain by an organic layer. Size ranges from one to several hundred acres (Monk and Brown 1965, Clewell 1971). Soil series in Florida can include Bladen, Coxville, Bayboro, Portsmouth, and Rutledge (Monk and Brown 1965).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Species composition appears to be related to soil calcium and pH levels as well as maximum flooding. The importance of Taxodium ascendens increases with depth of flooding while Pinus elliottii, Nyssa biflora, Acer rubrum, and Morella cerifera decrease in importance; the reverse pattern seems to be true with increases in calcium levels (Monk and Brown 1965).

Likely due to the scarcity of undergrowth and inability to carry fire, fire is irregular - at least in the center - of this community (Clewell 1971, 1981). Wharton (1978) indicates this community has a 50- to 150-year fire interval, but that once a fire is started it can burn the peat for long periods (up to 50 years in the Okefenokee Swamp). Although the center of this community may have a fire interval of 100 to 150 years, the periphery burns much more frequently (3 to 5 years at outer edge) due to the shorter hydroperiod (FNAI 1990). Charcoal commonly found on Taxodium ascendens trunks indicates fires that burn through adjacent communities do reach the cypress. Taxodium ascendens can survive light fires, but peat fires can kill the trees.

Fire is an important determinant of successional dynamics and is in turn largely determined by hydroperiod. In the absence of occasional, light fire, this community may succeed to Gordonia lasianthus - Magnolia virginiana - Persea palustris / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Forest (CEGL007044) (Monk and Brown 1965, FNAI 1990). When peat fires occur, this community may be transformed to a treeless pond. One theory links the successional status of this community to that of Nyssa biflora / Itea virginica - Cephalanthus occidentalis Swamp Forest (CEGL007434); calcium favors the growth of Nyssa biflora over that of Taxodium ascendens, and the Nyssa biflora itself acts as a calcium pump, thus generating a positive feedback that favors the swamp tupelo-dominated community (Clewell 1971). This Nyssa biflora-dominated community also occurs in depressions with longer, and/or less fluctuating, hydroperiods. Some Nyssa biflora-dominated and codominated swamps may be the result of past cypress logging.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Monk and Brown (1965)
Element Description Edition Date: 23Aug2002
Element Description Author(s): J.E. Mohan and R.E. Evans
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Jan2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): A.S. Weakley

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


References
  • Allard, D. J. 1990. Southeastern United States ecological community classification. Interim report, Version 1.2. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC. 96 pp.

  • Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.

  • Clewell, A. F. 1971. The vegetation of the Apalachicola National Forest: An ecological perspective. Unpublished document. USDA Forest Service, Tallahassee, FL. 152 pp.

  • Clewell, A. F. 1981. Natural setting and vegetation of the Florida Panhandle: An account of the environments and plant communities of northern Florida west of the Suwannee River. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mobile, AL. 773 pp.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 1990. Guide to the natural communities of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory and Florida Department of Natural Resources, Tallahassee. 111 pp.

  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 1992b. Natural community classification. Unpublished document. The Nature Conservancy, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee. 16 pp.

  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 2010a. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL.

  • LNHP [Louisiana Natural Heritage Program]. 2009. Natural communities of Louisiana. Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Baton Rouge. 46 pp. [http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/page_wildlife/6776-Rare%20Natural%20Communities/LA_NAT_COM.pdf]

  • Monk, C. D., and T. W. Brown. 1965. Ecological considerations of cypress heads in north central Florida. The American Midland Naturalist 74:126-140.

  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • Nelson, J. B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina: Initial classification and description. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Columbia, SC. 55 pp.

  • Oberholster, C. 1993. Preliminary list of natural communities of Alabama. Unpublished document. Alabama Department Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Section, Montgomery, AL. 6 pp.

  • Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. P. 2012. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina, 4th Approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.

  • Schotz, Al. Personal communication. Community Ecologist. Alabama Natural Heritage Program. Huntingdon College, Massey Hall, 1500 East Fairview Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36106-2148.

  • Smith, L. M., compiler. 1994a. Natural plant communities in Louisiana currently recognized by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished document. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 2 pp.

  • Smith, L. M., compiler. 1996a. Natural plant communities in Louisiana currently recognized by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished document. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 2 pp.

  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.

  • Wharton, C. H. 1978. The natural environments of Georgia. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta. 227 pp.

  • Wharton, C. H., H. T. Odum, K. Ewel, M. Duever, A. Lugo, R. Boyt, J. Bartolomew, E. DeBellevue, S. Brown, M. Brown, and L. Duever. 1976. Forested wetlands of Florida - their management and use. University of Florida, Center for Wetlands. 421 pp.


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