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Tsuga canadensis - Quercus prinus - Liriodendron tulipifera / Kalmia latifolia - (Rhododendron catawbiense) Forest
Translated Name: Eastern Hemlock - Chestnut Oak - Tuliptree / Mountain Laurel - (Catawba Rosebay) Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian Acidic Cove Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL008512
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community type occurs somewhat locally throughout the Northern Blue Ridge and Ridge and Valley regions of west-central and northwestern Virginia and may extend into West Virginia. Sites are located between 275 and 760 m (900-2500 feet) elevation. Stands often occupy elongated, linear patches in mesic ravines with incising first-, second-, and third-order streams. Underlying bedrock includes several sandstone and shale formations, as well as igneous and metamorphic formations of the Blue Ridge. Vegetation is a hemlock-hardwood or mixed hardwood forest that usually, but not always, has a dense evergreen shrub layer. Tsuga canadensis, Quercus prinus, Liriodendron tulipifera, Acer rubrum, Betula lenta, Quercus rubra, and Nyssa sylvatica are the most characteristic and abundant trees. Fagus grandifolia, Magnolia acuminata, Pinus strobus, and Quercus alba are minor and localized overstory associates. Understory tree layers are mostly composed of younger trees of the canopy species. Kalmia latifolia, Hamamelis virginiana, and Acer pensylvanicum are the most constant and abundant species of the shrub layer; less frequently Menziesia pilosa, Rhododendron catawbiense, and rarely Rhododendron maximum may form large colonies. The herb layer is typically sparse, but some stands have substantial cover by the clonal ferns Dennstaedtia punctilobula and/or Thelypteris noveboracensis.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: The distribution of this unit generally corresponds to a geographic area in which Rhododendron maximum is spotty to absent, or both Rhododendron maximum and Rhododendron catawbiense are absent. Throughout much of southwestern and west-central Virginia, as well as in the Southern Appalachians of North Carolina and Tennessee, habitats favorable for the development of acidic cove forests generally support extensive populations of Rhododendron maximum. Over most of this region, Rhododendron catawbiense is restricted to more xeric and/or exposed sites, and does not appear to be competitive with Rhododendron maximum in mesic habitats (A.S. Weakley pers. comm. 2001). On the Northern Blue Ridge and certain sites of the Ridge and Valley, where Rhododendron maximum is inexplicably rare, it is possible that the absence of Rhododendron maximum enables Rhododendron catawbiense to occupy more mesic cove sites. Rhododendron catawbiense reaches its northern limits in Highland and Rockingham counties; north of these counties, many acidic coves lack both of the evergreen rhododendrons.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.2 - Cool Temperate Forest & Woodland
Division 1.B.2.Na - Eastern North American Forest & Woodland
Macrogroup Appalachian-Interior-Northeastern Mesic Forest
Group Appalachian-Central Interior Mesic Forest
Alliance Southern Hemlock - Tuliptree Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL005043 Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Acer saccharum / (Hamamelis virginiana, Kalmia latifolia) Forest
CEGL006304 Liriodendron tulipifera - Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis - Quercus rubra / Polystichum acrostichoides Forest
CEGL007543 Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Liriodendron tulipifera - Quercus montana - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 2000. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Peter's Mountain area, James River Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 195 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Quercus rubra - Quercus prinus - Liriodendron tulipifera / Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Dryopteris marginalis Association: Rhododendron maximum Subassociation and Fagus grandifolia - Betula lenta Subassociation
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Rawinski, T. J., K. N. Hickman, J. Waller-Eling, G. P. Fleming, C. S. Austin, S. D. Helmick, C. Huber, G. Kappesser, F. C. Huber, Jr., T. Bailey, and T. K. Collins. 1996. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Glenwood Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-20. Richmond. 65 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis - Quercus montana - Liriodendron tulipifera / Kalmia latifolia - (Rhododendron catawbiense) Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis - Quercus prinus - Liriodendron tulipifera / Kalmia latifolia - (Rhododendron catawbiense) Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis - Quercus prinus / Kalmia latifolia - Rhododendron (catawbiense, maximum) / Galax urceolata Forest
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: Acidic Cove Forest
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.
Related Concept Name: Yellow-Poplar - Eastern Hemlock: 58
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.373 Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (25Jun2001)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: This vegetation type is locally distributed but fairly common in west-central and northwestern Virginia, sometimes covering large areas.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs somewhat locally throughout the Northern Blue Ridge and Ridge and Valley regions of west-central and northwestern Virginia. It is rare in ravines of western Piedmont, metasedimentary foothills. There is good potential for occurrences in adjacent states, particularly West Virginia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 231 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 231A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Vegetation is a hemlock-hardwood or mixed hardwood forest that usually, but not always, has a dense evergreen shrub layer. Tsuga canadensis, Quercus prinus, Liriodendron tulipifera, Acer rubrum, Betula lenta, Quercus rubra, and Nyssa sylvatica are the most characteristic and abundant trees. Fagus grandifolia, Magnolia acuminata, Pinus strobus, and Quercus alba are minor and localized overstory associates. Understory tree layers are mostly composed of younger trees of the canopy species. In the southern part of the range, Oxydendrum arboreum is a common understory tree. Evergreen shrubs are variably important in this type. Kalmia latifolia is a constant species but dominates only in a subset of stands. The evergreen rhododendrons Rhododendron catawbiense and/or Rhododendron maximum occur in 40% of plot samples but never co-occur, and one or the other species is abundant in only 15% of the plots; Rhododendron catawbiense is the more frequent species, occurring in about a third of the plots. Hamamelis virginiana and Acer pensylvanicum are the only other constant shrubs; Menziesia pilosa is inconstant but occasionally abundant. The herb layer is typically sparse, with few if any species attaining as much as 1% cover in a 400-square-meter plot, although some stands may have substantial cover by the clonal ferns Dennstaedtia punctilobula and/or Thelypteris noveboracensis. The most frequent herbs are Eurybia divaricata, Mitchella repens, Dioscorea quaternata, Goodyera pubescens, Medeola virginiana, Aralia nudicaulis, and Gaultheria procumbens. Significant bryophyte cover is often present on moist rock surfaces and rotting wood. Species richness of 22 plot-sampled stands ranges from 21 to 58 taxa per 400 square meters (mean = 36).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Liriodendron tulipifera G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Magnolia acuminata G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus prinus G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga canadensis G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Oxydendrum arboreum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Rhododendron catawbiense G4 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Kalmia latifolia G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Galax urceolata G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Goodyera pubescens G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hexastylis virginica G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Dennstaedtia punctilobula G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Thelypteris noveboracensis G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: Sites are located between 275 and 760 m (900-2500 feet) elevation. Stands often occupy elongated, linear patches in mesic ravines with incising first-, second-, and third-order streams. Underlying bedrock includes several sandstone and shale formations, as well as igneous and metamorphic formations of the Blue Ridge. Microtopography of habitats is diverse and includes both stream bottoms and adjacent lower to middle slopes, usually with northerly aspects. Mean slope at plot-sampling sites is 22, and average surface cover of boulders and stones is 14%. Occasional, brief flooding may occur along the larger streams in this unit. Mapped soils are mostly very stony, sometimes sandy colluvial loams. Along streams, substrates often consist of bouldery and rocky terraces with interstitial colluvial / alluvial soils. Soils collected from plots are very strongly to extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.0) and infertile, with high iron and aluminum levels and very low total base saturation.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: In many occurrences of this community type in western Virginia, the Tsuga canadensis component has been reduced by heavy timbering or mortality from the introduced insect pest, hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson and G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 01Feb2008
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Jun2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G. Fleming

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


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

  • Fleming, G. P. 2002a. Ecological communities of the Bull Run Mountains, Virginia: Baseline vegetation and floristic data for conservation planning and natural area stewardship. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-12. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 274 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P., K. Taverna, and P. P. Coulling. 2007b. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, eastern region. Regional (VA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2007. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2003. Preliminary vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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 K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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.

  • Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1998. Comparative wetlands ecology study of the Great Dismal Swamp, Northwest River, and North Landing River in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 98-9. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 181 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 2000. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Peter's Mountain area, James River Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 195 pp. plus appendices.

  • Rawinski, T. J., K. N. Hickman, J. Waller-Eling, G. P. Fleming, C. S. Austin, S. D. Helmick, C. Huber, G. Kappesser, F. C. Huber, Jr., T. Bailey, and T. K. Collins. 1996. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Glenwood Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-20. Richmond. 65 pp. plus appendices.

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

  • 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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