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Gordonia lasianthus - Magnolia virginiana - Persea palustris / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Forest
Translated Name: Loblolly-bay - Sweetbay - Swamp Bay / Peatmoss species Swamp Forest
Common Name: Loblolly-bay Swamp Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL007044
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These forests occur in saturated, peat-filled seepage depressions usually located at the base of sandy slopes but also at the edges of floodplains or other flat areas with high water tables. The southern limit of this community is just north of Lake Okeechobee, Florida; the community extends northward through Georgia and South Carolina to North Carolina, where Gordonia lasianthus reaches the limit of its distribution. The closed, broad-leaved evergreen canopy is composed of Magnolia virginiana, Persea palustris, and Gordonia lasianthus. A patchy understory of shrubs Cyrilla racemiflora, Clethra alnifolia, Itea virginica, Lyonia lucida, and Ilex glabra and vines Smilax laurifolia, Smilax glauca, and Vitis rotundifolia occurs with an abundant to sparse layer of ferns Woodwardia areolata and Osmunda cinnamomea. Sphagnum mats are interlaced with exposed tree roots. In northeastern Florida, at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, dead and dying Persea palustris indicate that these loblolly-bay forests are being affected by laurel wilt, which is caused by a vascular wilt fungus that is transmitted to species in the Lauraceae family via. the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus).



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association description was written for a generalized concept of a bay forest and may need reassessment and refinement.

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 Southern Coastal Plain Evergreen Hardwood - Conifer Swamp
Group Coastal Plain Mixed Evergreen Swamp
Alliance Bay Swamp Forest

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



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These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.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
Florida Baygall Broader   FNAI 1997
North Carolina Bay Forest Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
South Carolina Bay Forest Undetermined   Nelson 1986


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Bay Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
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: Forest, CP Bog/Seep
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.
Related Concept Name: IIA2d. Bay Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
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: Pond Pine Woodland
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.
Related Concept Name: Sweetbay - Swamp Tupelo - Redbay: 104
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
CES203.252 Atlantic Coastal Plain Streamhead Seepage Swamp, Pocosin and Baygall
CES203.267 Atlantic Coastal Plain Peatland Pocosin and Canebrake
CES203.505 Southern Coastal Plain Seepage Swamp and Baygall


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (08Oct1997)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: FL, GA, NC, SC
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association occurs on the Coastal Plain from Florida to North 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
Section Name: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The closed, broad-leaved evergreen canopy is composed of Magnolia virginiana, Persea palustris, and Gordonia lasianthus. A patchy understory of shrubs Cyrilla racemiflora, Clethra alnifolia, Itea virginica, Lyonia lucida, and Ilex glabra and vines Smilax laurifolia, Smilax glauca, and Vitis rotundifolia occurs with an abundant to sparse layer of ferns Woodwardia areolata and Osmunda cinnamomea. Sphagnum mats are interlaced with exposed tree roots. Additional species found on Ocala National Forest include Quercus nigra, Pinus serotina, Vaccinium fuscatum, Gelsemium sempervirens, Morella cerifera, Nyssa biflora, Serenoa repens, Ilex cassine, Smilax smallii, and Viburnum nudum. Exotics include Triadica sabifera (= Sapium sabiferum) and Ligustrum sinense.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer rubrum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Nyssa biflora G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Triadica sebifera G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Gordonia lasianthus G4 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Magnolia virginiana G4 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Persea palustris G4 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus elliottii G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Taxodium distichum G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Ligustrum sinense G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Cyrilla racemiflora G4 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Clethra alnifolia G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Itea virginica G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ilex coriacea G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ilex glabra G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Dryopteris ludoviciana G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Osmunda cinnamomea G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Woodwardia areolata G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Woodwardia virginica G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 


Vegetation Structure
Stratum Growth Form
Height of Stratum (m)
Cover
Class
%
Min
Cover %
Max
Cover %
Tree canopy Other/unknown
 
 
 
 
Tall shrub/sapling Shrub
 
 
 
 
Herb (field) Herb
 
 
 
 
Nonvascular Other/unknown
 
 
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: These forests occur in saturated, peat-filled seepage depressions usually located at the base of sandy slopes but also at the edges of floodplains or other flat areas with high water tables. The highly organic sands are often overlain by peat which erodes into hummocks and hollows; the peat substrate is very acidic with a pH between 3.0 and 4.5. Soils are usually saturated but flooding is infrequent. Water sources are adjacent slope seepage, perched water tables, and rainfall. Soil series of this community on the Apalachicola National Forest, Florida, are Rutlege and Ponzer. In North Carolina, soils include Croatan, Pamlico, and Dorovan (Clewell 1971, Jones 1981, FNAI 1990, Schafale and Weakley 1990).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Baygalls are seldom dry enough to burn, thus the fire interval is probably 50 to 100 years or more (FNAI 1990). However, Clewell (1971) estimated the fire-return interval to be less than 45 years. When fires are not too severe, many species are usually able to resprout (FNAI 1990). These forests are probably prone to some infrequent, but perhaps moderate-intensity wildfire. Once Gordonia lasianthus is tree-sized, its thick bark provides some protection from fire. Hurricanes could cause blowdown.

This community succeeds from Atlantic white-cedar swamp forest and pond pine woodland in the absence of fire, and may revert to these types following fire if the subsurface peat is not burned. Areas where peat is consumed by fire may serve as Pinus elliottii regeneration sites. If only a small amount of surface peat is removed, this community may be replaced by a wet flatwoods. If much of the surface layer is decreased, Baygalls will be invaded by willows and then change to a cypress-gum community. With recurrent fires, a shrub bog results (Clewell 1971, FNAI 1990).

In northeastern Florida, at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, dead and dying Persea palustris indicate that these loblolly-bay forests are being affected by laurel wilt, which is caused by a vascular wilt fungus that is transmitted to species in the Lauraceae family via. the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): J.E. Mohan
Element Description Edition Date: 04Jan2008
Element Description Author(s): J.E. Mohan and H. Summer

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.

  • Allard, D. J., K. M. Doyle, S. J. Landaal, and R. S. Martin. 1990. Community characterization abstracts for the southeastern United States. Unpublished manuscript. The Nature Conservancy, Southern Heritage Task Force, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jones, R. H. 1981. A classification of lowland forests in the northern coastal plain of South Carolina. M.S. thesis, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.

  • Kologiski, R. L. 1977. The phytosociology of the Green Swamp, North Carolina. North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station. Bulletin No. 250. 101 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • Wolfe, S. H., editor. 1990. An ecological characterization of the Florida Springs Coast: Pithlachascotee to Waccasassa rivers. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Biological Report 90(21). Slidell, LA. 323 pp.


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