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Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer spicatum / Dryopteris intermedia - Oclemena acuminata Forest
Translated Name: Yellow Birch - Northern Red Oak / Mountain Maple / Intermediate Woodfern - Whorled Wood Aster Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian Northern Hardwood Forest (Yellow Birch - Northern Red Oak Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL008502
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: The global range of this community is poorly known but probably includes high-elevation areas of the Central Appalachians in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In Virginia, this association is almost exclusively associated with cool, rocky, northwest- to northeast-facing slopes at elevations from about 975 m (3000 feet) to more than 1300 m (4300 feet). Habitats occur on various geologic substrates, including sandstone, metabasalt (greenstone), amphibolite, and granitic formations. Betula alleghaniensis and Quercus rubra are constant, high-cover, usually codominant canopy trees. Minor canopy associates can include Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Tsuga canadensis, Tilia americana, and Fraxinus americana. Acer pensylvanicum and Acer spicatum are the most abundant and characteristic understory trees, although Ilex montana may be locally abundant. More-or-less frequent shrubs include Hamamelis virginiana, Sambucus racemosa (= Sambucus pubens), and Hydrangea arborescens. Rhododendron maximum is a frequent shrub at the four southernmost sites in Virginia but is absent elsewhere. The herb layer varies from moderately sparse to very dense.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is somewhat intermediate between high-elevation Quercus rubra-dominated forests and "classic" (beech - birch - maple) northern hardwood forests. It can be readily distinguished from similar associations (CEGL006045 and CEGL007285) by the complete absence of Fagus grandifolia and the infrequency of Acer saccharum and Prunus serotina.

On the Northern Blue Ridge and higher ridges of the Ridge and Valley province, Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer spicatum / Dryopteris intermedia - Oclemena acuminata Forest (CEGL008502) is the main "northern hardwood" forest in Virginia. This community appears to be absent from Allegheny Mountain in Highland County and the Mount Rogers - Whitetop Mountain area of the Southern Blue Ridge, where Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina Forest (CEGL006045) and Betula alleghaniensis - Fagus grandifolia / Viburnum lantanoides / Eurybia chlorolepis - Dryopteris intermedia Forest (CEGL007285) are prevalent, respectively.


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-Allegheny Northern Hardwood - Conifer Forest
Alliance Sugar Maple - American Basswood - Northern Red Oak Rocky Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006045 Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina Forest
CEGL007285 Betula alleghaniensis - Fagus grandifolia / Viburnum lantanoides / Eurybia chlorolepis - Dryopteris intermedia Forest
CEGL008504 Betula alleghaniensis / Sorbus americana - Acer spicatum / Polypodium appalachianum Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer (pensylvanicum, spicatum) / Aster acuminatus Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2007a. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report, volume 1.1. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 103 pp. plus appendices and GIS products.
Related Concept Name: Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer (pensylvanicum, spicatum) / Dryopteris intermedia - Oclemena acuminata 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]
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: Quercus rubra - Betula alleghaniensis / Rhododendron catawbiense / Angelica triquinata - Aster acuminatus Association
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: Northern Hardwood 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: Northern Red Oak: 55
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: Yellow Birch - Red Oak Community
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Johnson, G. G., and S. Ware. 1982. Post-chestnut forests in the central Blue Ridge of Virginia. Castanea 47:329-343.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.593 Appalachian (Hemlock)-Northern Hardwood Forest
CES202.596 Central and Southern Appalachian Montane Oak Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (20Jun2001)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Rank is based on potential range of this community which could include throughout the Central Appalachians.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MDpotentially occurs, PApotentially occurs, VA, WVpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The global range of this community is poorly known but probably includes high-elevation areas of the Central Appalachians in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In Virginia, this vegetation type is widely but locally distributed at higher elevations of the Northern Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley, and Allegheny Mountains. It is rare and local on the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke Gap, and in the Cumberland Mountains of southwestern Virginia.

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: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Allegheny Mountains Section
Section Code: M221B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Cumberland Mountains Section
Section Code: M221C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: In stands of this association, Betula alleghaniensis and Quercus rubra are constant, high-cover, usually codominant canopy trees. Minor canopy associates can include Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Tsuga canadensis, Tilia americana, and Fraxinus americana. Acer pensylvanicum and Acer spicatum are the most abundant and characteristic understory trees, although Ilex montana may be locally abundant. More-or-less frequent shrubs include Hamamelis virginiana, Sambucus racemosa (= Sambucus pubens), and Hydrangea arborescens. Rhododendron maximum is a frequent shrub at the four southernmost sites in Virginia but is absent elsewhere. The herb layer varies from moderately sparse to very dense. Dryopteris intermedia, Oclemena acuminata (= Aster acuminatus), Angelica triquinata, Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides, Maianthemum canadense, Arisaema triphyllum, and Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus) are the most constant and/or abundant herbaceous species. A large number of low-cover and/or low-constancy herbs also occur in the type. A few of the most characteristic include Dryopteris marginalis, Viola blanda, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Solidago curtisii, Impatiens pallida, Clintonia borealis, Ageratina altissima, Trillium undulatum, Circaea alpina, Carex aestivalis, and Carex debilis var. rudgei. Species richness of plot-sampled stands ranges from 16 to 61 taxa per 400 square meters (mean = 35). One globally rare plant species, Aconitum reclinatum and one state-rare plant species, Poa saltuensis have been recorded in plots of this community type.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Betula alleghaniensis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus rubra G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Acer pensylvanicum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Acer spicatum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Hamamelis virginiana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Sambucus racemosa G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Aconitum reclinatum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Angelica triquinata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Arisaema triphyllum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Eurybia divaricata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Maianthemum canadense G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Oclemena acuminata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Scutellaria saxatilis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Dryopteris intermedia G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Gymnocarpium appalachianum G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Poa saltuensis G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Aconitum reclinatum
  (White Monkshood)
G3  
Gymnocarpium appalachianum
  (Appalachian Oak Fern)
G3  
Scutellaria saxatilis
  (Rock Skullcap)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: In Virginia, this association is almost exclusively associated with cool, rocky, northwest- to northeast-facing slopes at elevations from about 975 m (3000 feet) to more than 1300 m (4300 feet). Habitats occur on various geologic substrates, including sandstone, metabasalt (greenstone), amphibolite, and granitic formations. With one exception, soils collected at plot-sampling sites are very strongly to extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.2), with low base status. Sites are mesic to submesic and are often exposed to severe winter temperatures, wind, and ice. Bedrock and boulders typically cover more than 30% of the ground surface. Surface cover of bryophytes and lichens is usually greater than 10%.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 23Feb2010
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20Jun2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G.P. 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., 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. 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 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.

  • Johnson, G. G., and S. Ware. 1982. Post-chestnut forests in the central Blue Ridge of Virginia. Castanea 47:329-343.

  • 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.

  • 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, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2007a. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report, volume 1.1. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 103 pp. plus appendices and GIS products.

  • 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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