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Quercus virginiana - Quercus hemisphaerica - Pinus taeda / Persea palustris - Ilex vomitoria Forest
Translated Name: Live Oak - Darlington Oak - Loblolly Pine / Swamp Bay - Yaupon Forest
Common Name: Atlantic Coast Maritime Evergreen Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL007027
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community is a low- to moderate-stature, broad-leaved evergreen forest that is often, though not always, sculpted into streamlined forms by wind-borne salt spray due to proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, especially on barrier islands. This type ranges from southeastern Virginia to South Carolina (and possibly Georgia). Canopies are dominated by Quercus virginiana and Quercus hemisphaerica with lesser amounts of Pinus taeda and Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola. Subcanopy and shrub layers are well-developed and vines are typically abundant. The herb layer is sparse and low in diversity. Typical understory components include Persea borbonia, Carpinus caroliniana ssp. caroliniana, Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola, Cornus florida, Osmanthus americanus var. americanus, Ilex opaca var. opaca, and Zanthoxylum clava-herculis. Shrub species include Ilex vomitoria, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera), Sabal minor, and Callicarpa americana. Dominant vines are Toxicodendron radicans, Vitis rotundifolia, Smilax spp., Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Bignonia capreolata, Berchemia scandens, Ampelopsis arborea, and Gelsemium sempervirens. Typical herbs are Mitchella repens, Asplenium platyneuron var. platyneuron, Chasmanthium laxum, Piptochaetium avenaceum, Galium pilosum, Dichanthelium commutatum, Elephantopus nudatus, and Passiflora lutea. This community occurs on sand flats, lower slopes, and on stabilized dunes that are protected from saltwater flooding but experience light to moderate salt spray.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: The northernmost occurrence of this forest is at Virginia Beach, VA (Clampitt 1991, Fleming et al. 2001). This is the evergreen part of IA9a. in Allard (1990); the deciduous part is found under IB3a. Texas also has a maritime type that is dominated by Quercus virginiana, Quercus hemisphaerica, and Persea borbonia, but apparently Pinus taeda is not important there. This community occurs on the barrier islands and spits of Virginia and North Carolina (north of Smith Island) and ranges south to South Carolina (and possibly Georgia). This is a naturally rare community that has been substantially reduced due to residential and commercial development on coastal islands. There has been some uncertainty about Persea taxonomy in these communities. At the latitude of North Carolina most of the Persea is Persea palustris. This ameliorates the problem that Radford et al. (1968) lumped Persea borbonia and Persea palustris and that most of the North Carolina maritime sampling work was completed prior to the widespread recognition of Persea palustris. It is clear that Persea as a genus is more constant and abundant than Ilex vomitoria in this coastal fringe type than in the related maritime forest (M. Schafale pers. comm.).

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.1 - Warm Temperate Forest & Woodland
Division 1.B.1.Na - Southeastern North American Forest & Woodland
Macrogroup Southeastern Coastal Plain Evergreen Oak - Mixed Hardwood Forest
Group Coastal Live Oak - Hickory - Palmetto Forest
Alliance Southeastern Maritime Live Oak Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003750 Quercus virginiana - Quercus incana Woodland
CEGL003833 Quercus virginiana - (Ilex vomitoria) Shrubland
CEGL006040 Pinus taeda - Quercus (falcata, nigra) / Morella cerifera / Vitis rotundifolia Forest
CEGL007026 Quercus virginiana - Quercus hemisphaerica - Pinus taeda - Quercus falcata / Persea palustris Forest
CEGL007032 Quercus virginiana - (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii, Sabal palmetto) / Persea borbonia - Callicarpa americana 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
North Carolina Maritime Evergreen Forest (Mid Atlantic Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Quercus virginiana - Pinus taeda 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: IA9a. Mid-Atlantic Barrier Island Evergreen 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: Low oak woods
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Sharitz, R. R. 1975. Forest communities of Kiawah Island. Pages F1-F39 in: W. M. Campbell, J. M. Dean, and W. D. Chamberlain, editors. Environmental inventory of Kiawah Island. Environmental Research Center, Inc., Columbia, SC.
Related Concept Name: Maritime Evergreen Forest
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: Maritime Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Bourdeau, P. F., and H. J. Oosting. 1959. The maritime live oak forest in North Carolina. Ecology 40:148-152.
Related Concept Name: Maritime Strand 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: Maritime Upland Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
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: Maritime forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Clampitt, C. A. 1991. The upland plant communities of Seashore State Park, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Virginia Journal of Science 42:419-435.
Related Concept Name: Oak-bay forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Sharitz, R. R. 1975. Forest communities of Kiawah Island. Pages F1-F39 in: W. M. Campbell, J. M. Dean, and W. D. Chamberlain, editors. Environmental inventory of Kiawah Island. Environmental Research Center, Inc., Columbia, SC.
Related Concept Name: Type 1 (evergreen oak forest)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Wentworth, T. R., M. P. Schafale, A. S. Weakley, R. K. Peet, P. S. White, and C. C. Frost. 1993. A preliminary classification of North Carolina barrier island forests. Pages 31-46 in: C. A. Cole and F. K. Turner, editors. Barrier island ecology of the mid-Atlantic coast: A symposium. Technical Report NPS/SERCAHA/NRTR-93/04. National Park Service, Atlanta, GA.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.261 Central Atlantic Coastal Plain Maritime Forest
CES203.537 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Maritime Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (09Oct1997)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This maritime forest association is a low- to moderate-stature, broad-leaved evergreen forest of Virginia and the Carolinas that is often, though not always, sculpted into streamlined forms by wind-borne salt spray. It is naturally restricted in range and in the environmental context in which it occurs, being found only on sand flats, lower slopes, and on stabilized dunes that are protected from saltwater flooding, where it experiences light to moderate salt spray. This is a naturally rare community that has been substantially reduced due to residential and commercial development on coastal islands. Small clearings created for houses disrupt the streamlined canopy profile, which exposes interior trees and branches to the deleterious effects of salt spray. Such exposure can result in canopy die-back and a shift in the floristic composition of the forest. Remaining unprotected examples exist under threat of destruction or degradation from development.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GApotentially occurs, NC, SC, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This type ranges from southeastern Virginia to South Carolina (and possibly Georgia). It occurs on the barrier islands of North Carolina, north of the Smith Island Complex (including Bald Head Island).

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: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This community, the classic maritime forest of Wells (1939) and Bourdeau and Oosting (1959), consists of a low- to moderate-stature, broad-leaved evergreen forest that is often, though not always, sculpted into streamlined forms by wind-borne salt spray (Wentworth et al. 1993). Subcanopy and shrub layers are well-developed, and vines are typically abundant. The herb layer is sparse and low in diversity. Canopies are dominated by Quercus virginiana and Quercus hemisphaerica with lesser amounts of Pinus taeda and Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola. Typical understory components include Persea borbonia, Carpinus caroliniana ssp. caroliniana, Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola, Cornus florida, Osmanthus americanus var. americanus, Ilex opaca, and Zanthoxylum clava-herculis. Shrub species include Ilex vomitoria, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera), Sabal minor, and Callicarpa americana. Dominant vines are Toxicodendron radicans, Vitis rotundifolia, Smilax spp., Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Bignonia capreolata, Berchemia scandens, Ampelopsis arborea, and Gelsemium sempervirens. Typical herbs are Mitchella repens, Asplenium platyneuron var. platyneuron, Chasmanthium laxum, Piptochaetium avenaceum, Galium pilosum, Dichanthelium commutatum, Elephantopus nudatus, and Passiflora lutea (Schafale and Weakley 1990, Wentworth et al. 1993). At the northern end of the range in southeastern Virginia, Quercus hemisphaerica and Ilex vomitoria are uncommon, and this community has an overstory composed almost exclusively of Quercus virginiana, with Pinus taeda sometimes codominant. Rare plants reported from this community include Sageretia minutiflora and Teloschistes flavicans (Weakley 1993). This type is found primarily north of the range of Sabal palmetto and Pinus elliottii, although examples are reported to the south. There may be some minor overlap in the ranges of this and the related southern type. Species dominance varies with distance from the ocean, successional age and protection from salt spray. Quercus virginiana and Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola dominate in areas closer to the ocean, while Quercus hemisphaerica and Pinus taeda predominate farther from the ocean (Schafale and Weakley 1990).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Quercus hemisphaerica G2 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus virginiana G2 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus taeda G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Carpinus caroliniana ssp. caroliniana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Cornus florida G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Persea borbonia G2 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree subcanopy  
 
 
Persea palustris G2 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Smilax bona-nox G2 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Toxicodendron radicans G2 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Vitis rotundifolia G2 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Prunus caroliniana G2 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Sabal minor G2 Palm tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Callicarpa americana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ilex vomitoria G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Morella cerifera G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Osmanthus americanus var. americanus G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Sageretia minutiflora G2 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 
Teloschistes flavicans G2 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Lampropeltis getula sticticeps
  (Outer Banks Kingsnake)
G5T2Q  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs on sand flats, lower slopes, and on stabilized dunes that are protected from saltwater flooding, but experience light to moderate salt spray. Sandy soils are poorly developed and well- to excessively drained. Moisture regimes are xeric to mesic (Schafale and Weakley 1990). These forests are subject to the catastrophic disturbances of coastal storms, including high winds, erosion, and saltwater flooding from storm tides and overwash.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Although this forest occurs in the most stable portions of Atlantic barrier islands, the maritime environment is still extremely dynamic. Chronic salt spray is an important influence on structure and composition, eliminating salt-intolerant plants and usually shaping the canopy into a streamlined shape. Geologic processes such as destruction of dunes by storms or slow dune movements may quickly or slowly destroy the relatively stable environment this community needs to exist. Sand movement may also create new sites for eventual occupation of this community. Extreme salt spray or saltwater flooding in storms can severely disturb vegetation, though it recovers if the landforms have not been altered. Fire may have naturally occurred infrequently in this system, but probably was not an important factor.

In maritime forests in the Sea Islands region (USFS 232Ce, EPA Ecoregion 75j) (Keys et al. 1995, EPA 2204), a successional pathway may exist from which new islands of sand or shell are first colonized by Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola and Sabal palmetto (with salt shrub species as well). This would include Sabal palmetto - (Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola) Woodland (CEGL003526) and Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola - (Quercus virginiana, Sabal palmetto) Forest (CEGL007813). These associations represent an early stage in this process. This could be considered an important stage in the stabilization and maintenance of hammock and barrier islands. In the absence of disturbance, this sere in time will give way to Quercus virginiana - (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii, Sabal palmetto) / Persea borbonia - Callicarpa americana Forest (CEGL007032) with red-cedar, palmetto, yaupon and wax-myrtle as components. Ultimately as the soils become more nutrient-rich and in the absence of major disturbance events, Quercus hemisphaerica, Magnolia grandiflora, and Quercus nigra become more dominant, for example, as in Quercus virginiana - Quercus hemisphaerica - Pinus taeda / Persea palustris - Ilex vomitoria Forest (CEGL007027). Of course tropical storms, flood tides and other wind events may alter this succession. This general pattern also may be reflected on larger maritime islands when one goes from the salt marsh to the island interior. Composition varies with the presence of shell or spoil in the soil. Some variants, such as Quercus geminata - (Quercus virginiana) / Serenoa repens - Lyonia fruticosa Forest (CEGL007020) (from the coast of Florida, Georgia and at least one location in South Carolina), do not fit perfectly into this scheme, but in South Carolina they are more anomalies than the norm.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Wentworth et al. (1993)
Element Description Edition Date: 10Jun2008
Element Description Author(s): K.D. Patterson, M. Pyne, R.E. Evans, J. Gramling, G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 09Oct1997
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): Southeast Ecology Group

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.

  • Bellis, V. J. 1992. Floristic continuity among the maritime forests of the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Pages 21-29 in: C. A. Cole and F. K. Turner, editors. Barrier island ecology of the mid-Atlantic Coast: A symposium. Technical Report NPS/SERCAHA/NRTR-93/04.

  • Bourdeau, P. F., and H. J. Oosting. 1959. The maritime live oak forest in North Carolina. Ecology 40:148-152.

  • Clampitt, C. A. 1991. The upland plant communities of Seashore State Park, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Virginia Journal of Science 42:419-435.

  • EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]. 2004. Level III and IV Ecoregions of EPA Region 4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Western Ecology Division, Corvallis, OR. Scale 1:2,000,000.

  • 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. 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. 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.

  • Keys, J. E., Jr., C. A. Carpenter, S. L. Hooks, F. G. Koenig, W. H. McNab, W. E. Russell, and M-L. Smith. 1995. Ecological units of the eastern United States - first approximation (map and booklet of map unit tables). Presentation scale 1:3,500,000, colored. USDA Forest Service, Atlanta, GA.

  • 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.

  • Sharitz, R. R. 1975. Forest communities of Kiawah Island. Pages F1-F39 in: W. M. Campbell, J. M. Dean, and W. D. Chamberlain, editors. Environmental inventory of Kiawah Island. Environmental Research Center, Inc., Columbia, SC.

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

  • Weakley, A. S., compiler. 1993. Natural Heritage Program list of the rare plant species of North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program. Raleigh. 79 pp.

  • Wells, B. W. 1939. A new forest climax: The salt spray climax of Smith Island, N.C. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 66:629-634.

  • Wells, B. W., and I. V. Shunk. 1938. Salt spray: An important factor in coastal ecology. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 65:485-492.

  • Wentworth, T. R., M. P. Schafale, A. S. Weakley, R. K. Peet, P. S. White, and C. C. Frost. 1993. A preliminary classification of North Carolina barrier island forests. Pages 31-46 in: C. A. Cole and F. K. Turner, editors. Barrier island ecology of the mid-Atlantic coast: A symposium. Technical Report NPS/SERCAHA/NRTR-93/04. National Park Service, Atlanta, GA.


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