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Clethra alnifolia - Toxicodendron vernix / Aristida stricta - Osmunda cinnamomea - Sarracenia spp. Shrub Seepage Meadow
Translated Name: Coastal Sweet-pepperbush - Poison-sumac / Pineland Three-awn - Cinnamon Fern - Pitcherplant species Shrub Seepage Meadow
Common Name: Mucky Sandhill Hillside Seep
Unique Identifier: CEGL004467
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This type covers seepage-fed herbaceous or shrub-herb wetlands of sandhills terrain found primarily in the Sandhills region but present in scarps and sand ridges elsewhere in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina and South Carolina. These are generally small areas on slopes, but can occur at slope bases where water is forced to the surface by a clay layer and soil conditions are permanently saturated. These communities are rare in the North Carolina Sandhills and on Fort Bragg and Camp MacKall, where they are usually found in high-moisture, open-canopied transitional areas located between streams (or impoundments) and seepage-fed slopes. The permanently saturated conditions of these sites most likely help to retard shrub and tree encroachment. Dominant species include Sarracenia flava, Sphagnum spp., Carex exilis, Rhynchospora stenophylla, Danthonia epilis, Xyris fimbriata, Xyris chapmanii, Eupatorium resinosum, and Rhexia spp. Sandhill seeps consist of a dense to open growth of various wetland shrubs and herbs, or mixtures of wetland and upland species, with structure determined by fire regime. Common shrubs include Clethra alnifolia, Lyonia lucida, Photinia pyrifolia (= Aronia arbutifolia), Ilex glabra, Gaylussacia frondosa, Symplocos tinctoria, Morella caroliniensis (= Myrica heterophylla), and Toxicodendron vernix. A variety of other shrubs may be present in some sites. Arundinaria gigantea ssp. tecta may dominate in places, especially in frequently burned sites. Osmunda cinnamomea often dominates annually burned sites. Canopy species include Pinus serotina, Pinus palustris, and Liquidambar styraciflua. Acer rubrum, Magnolia virginiana, and Persea palustris are often present in the midstory. Herbs are sparse under shrub cover but may dominate frequently burned sites. Typical herbs include Osmunda cinnamomea, Xyris caroliniana, Pteridium aquilinum, Woodwardia virginica, Dichanthelium spp., Andropogon glomeratus, Ctenium aromaticum, Sarracenia flava, Sarracenia purpurea, Sarracenia rubra, Drosera capillaris, Rhexia alifanus, Polygala lutea, Eupatorium pilosum, and Aristida stricta. Sphagnum spp. are common. On frequently burned sites a great diversity of other herbs may also be present. Community structure is strongly controlled by fire regime. Because of their small size, Sandhill Seeps are subject to fires spreading from adjacent sandhill communities, and under natural fire regimes they probably burned more frequently than other similarly wet communities. At least parts of them burned almost as frequently as the adjoining sandhill communities. Under frequent fire Sandhill seeps are open and herb-dominated. In the absence of fire shrubs quickly expand and the vegetation becomes pocosin-like. The nutrient dynamics of these communities are not known. The presence of clay in the soil may allow greater retention of nutrients than in sandy soils, although the seepage is likely to be very low in nutrients. Like other small communities in sandhill areas, nutrients mobilized by fire may be available to Sandhill seeps even if they do not themselves burn. These communities are distinguished by the occurrence of wetland vegetation on seepage slopes. The boundary with Streamhead Pocosin may be difficult to determine in some areas. In infrequently burned areas where both are shrubby, Sandhill seeps may be recognized by partial or total isolation from a stream system, location on a sharp slope break, or by remnants of the herbaceous vegetation beneath the shrubs. Herb-dominated Sandhill seeps may be distinguished by their occurrence on relatively small, sloping, seepage-fed areas in sandhills.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: In very frequently burned (every 1-2 years) seepage areas on Fort Bragg, these communities had extremely high species richness, with up to 102 species per 1/100 hectare (10x10 m) (NC Vegetation Survey 1989), the highest known species richness in temperate North America. Those seeps may represent unusually rich examples, but many Sandhill Seeps had fairly diverse herbaceous vegetation that has gradually disappeared with the lack of fire. It is unclear how common Sandhill Seeps are. They may be fairly widespread in the northern part of the Sandhills region, in Moore and Hoke counties, North Carolina, but they have always been of limited acreage. Because they so quickly become overgrown with shrubs, examples in good condition are now extremely rare, except for on Fort Bragg, where marginal to good examples are common. Numerous examples of high-quality seeps are most likely present in the annually burned impact areas.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Ne - Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Wet Prairie & Marsh
Group Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Seep
Alliance Coastal Plain Hillside Seep

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003659 (Pinus palustris, Pinus serotina) / Ctenium aromaticum - Muhlenbergia expansa - Calamovilfa brevipilis Woodland



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
North Carolina Sandhill Seep (Very Wet Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
South Carolina Hillside Herb Bog Broader   Nelson 1986


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Sandhill Seep
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: Sandhill Seep (Bog Variant)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: TNC and NCNHP [The Nature Conservancy and North Carolina Natural Heritage Program]. 1993. Rare and endangered plant survey and natural area inventory for Fort Bragg and Camp MacKall military reservations, North Carolina. Unpublished report by M. J. Russo, B. A. Sorrie, B. van Eerden, and T. Hippensteel, The Nature Conservancy and North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Raleigh, NC.
Related Concept Name: Sandhill Seep (Very Wet 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
CES203.253 Atlantic Coastal Plain Sandhill Seep


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2? (23Jan2000)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This community is part of the longleaf sandhill matrix of the Atlantic Coastal Plain of North Carolina and South Carolina. Like all longleaf and longleaf-associated communities, this community has been greatly reduced in quantity and quality by direct destruction and by fire exclusion. Few high-quality occurrences remain, though increased burning (especially growing season) on Fort Bragg, Sandhills Game Land, and other large tracts of sandhill vegetation is improving some remaining occurrences.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NC, SC
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This type covers seepage-fed herbaceous or shrub-herb wetlands of sandhills terrain found primarily in the Sandhills region but present in scarps and sand ridges elsewhere in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina and South Carolina.

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Dominant species include Sarracenia flava, Sphagnum spp., Carex exilis, Rhynchospora stenophylla, Danthonia epilis, Xyris fimbriata, Xyris chapmanii, Eupatorium resinosum, and Rhexia spp. Sandhill seeps consist of a dense to open growth of various wetland shrubs and herbs, or mixtures of wetland and upland species, with structure determined by fire regime. Common shrubs include Clethra alnifolia, Lyonia lucida, Photinia pyrifolia (= Aronia arbutifolia), Ilex glabra, Gaylussacia frondosa, Symplocos tinctoria, Morella caroliniensis (= Myrica heterophylla), and Toxicodendron vernix. A variety of other shrubs may be present in some sites. Arundinaria gigantea ssp. tecta may dominate in places, especially in frequently burned sites. Osmunda cinnamomea often dominates annually burned sites. Canopy species include Pinus serotina, Pinus palustris, and Liquidambar styraciflua. Acer rubrum, Magnolia virginiana, and Persea palustris are often present in the midstory. Herbs are sparse under shrub cover but may dominate frequently burned sites. Typical herbs include Osmunda cinnamomea, Xyris caroliniana, Pteridium aquilinum, Woodwardia virginica, Dichanthelium spp., Andropogon glomeratus, Ctenium aromaticum, Sarracenia flava, Sarracenia purpurea, Sarracenia rubra, Drosera capillaris, Rhexia alifanus, Polygala lutea, Eupatorium pilosum, and Aristida stricta. Sphagnum spp. are common. On frequently burned sites a great diversity of other herbs may also be present. Sandhills bog lily, which is a rare endemic of the Sandhills, is a newly described species named Lilium pyrophilum (Skinner and Sorrie 2002).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Lindera subcoriacea G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Toxicodendron vernix G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Clethra alnifolia G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Dionaea muscipula G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Eupatorium resinosum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lilium pyrophilum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Parnassia caroliniana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sarracenia flava G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Sarracenia rubra ssp. rubra G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Solidago verna G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Tofieldia glabra G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Xyris chapmanii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Xyris scabrifolia G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Osmunda cinnamomea G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Aristida stricta G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamovilfa brevipilis G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex barrattii G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Danthonia epilis G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Rhynchospora macra G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Rhynchospora pallida G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Danthonia epilis
  (Bog Wild Oatgrass)
G3G4  
Dionaea muscipula
  (Venus' Flytrap)
G3  
Eupatorium resinosum
  (Pine Barrens Boneset)
G3  
Lilium pyrophilum
  (Sandhills Lily)
G2  
Lindera subcoriacea
  (Bog Spicebush)
G3  
Parnassia caroliniana
  (Carolina Grass-of-Parnassus)
G3  
Rhynchospora macra
  (Large Beakrush)
G3  
Rhynchospora pallida
  (Pale Beakrush)
G3  
Sarracenia rubra ssp. rubra
  (Red-flowered Sweet Pitcherplant)
G4T3T4  
Solidago verna
  (Spring-flowering Goldenrod)
G3  
Xyris chapmanii
  (Chapman's Yellow-eyed-grass)
G3  
Xyris scabrifolia
  (Harper's Yellow-eyed-grass)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: These communities are found on slopes in sand ridge or sandhill areas where water is forced to the surface by a clay layer. Soils are wet sands underlain by clays, usually mapped as Blaney (Arenic Hapludults) or Vaucluse (Typic Hapludults) loamy sands but probably representing inclusions in these map units. Soil series may include Fuquay (Plinthic Paleudults) and Lakeland (Typic Quartzipsamments) sands; Gilead (Aquic Hapludults), Pactolus (Aquic Quartzipsamments) and Stallings (Aeric Paleaquults) loamy sands; Torhunta coarse-loamy soils (Typic Humaquepts); and Johnston loam (Cumulic Humaquepts). Sites that support this community are permanently saturated with oligotrophic waters.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Community structure is strongly controlled by fire regime. Because of their small size, Sandhill Seeps are subject to fires spreading from adjacent sandhill communities, and under natural fire regimes they probably burned more frequently than other similarly wet communities. At least parts of them burned almost as frequently as the adjoining sandhill communities. Under frequent fire Sandhill seeps are open and herb-dominated. In the absence of fire shrubs quickly expand and the vegetation becomes pocosin-like. The nutrient dynamics of these communities are not known. The presence of clay in the soil may allow greater retention of nutrients than in sandy soils, although the seepage is likely to be very low in nutrients. Like other small communities in sandhill areas, nutrients mobilized by fire may be available to Sandhill seeps even if they do not themselves burn.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.P. Schafale, mod. M.J. Russo after TNC and NCNHP (1993)
Element Description Edition Date: 01Apr1996
Element Description Author(s): M.P. Schafale, M.J. Russo after TNC (1993)
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Jan2000
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
  • 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.

  • North Carolina Vegetation Survey. No date. Unpublished data.

  • 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.

  • Schafale, Mike P. Personal communication. Ecologist, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Skinner, M. W., and B. A. Sorrie. 2002. Conservation and ecology of Lilium pyrophilum, a new species of Liliaceae from the Sandhills region of the Carolinas and Virginia, U.S.A. Novon 12:94-105.

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

  • TNC and NCNHP [The Nature Conservancy and North Carolina Natural Heritage Program]. 1993. Rare and endangered plant survey and natural area inventory for Fort Bragg and Camp MacKall military reservations, North Carolina. Unpublished report by M. J. Russo, B. A. Sorrie, B. van Eerden, and T. Hippensteel, The Nature Conservancy and North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Raleigh, NC.


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