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Selaginella rupestris - Schizachyrium scoparium - Hypericum gentianoides - Bulbostylis capillaris Rocky Grassland
Translated Name: Rock Spikemoss - Little Bluestem - Orange-grass - Dense-tuft Hairsedge Rocky Grassland
Common Name: Appalachian Low-Elevation Granitic Dome
Unique Identifier: CEGL007690
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association includes vegetation found on granitic exfoliation domes of the Piedmont and lower elevation portions of the Blue Ridge. It occurs on gently sloping to steep exposures of smooth, exfoliating granite or similar massive igneous or metamorphic rock, such as granitic gneiss. The substrate has few cracks or irregularities for soil accumulation, and most of the areal extent is bare rock. This association typically occurs at elevations below 915 m (3000 feet) but may be found at slightly higher elevations. This community occurs in large patches, ranging in size from a few acres to over 100 acres. Vegetation consists primarily of lichens on bare rock or of shallow mats generally dominated by Selaginella rupestris occurring with other distinctive species. Woody species from adjacent woodlands and shrublands may be scattered components, rooted in deeper soil pockets, older stable vegetation mats, and in marginal zones between the exposed rock and adjacent forests. Selaginella rupestris is almost always a major dominant of the vegetation mats. However, distribution of Selaginella rupestris can be spotty, so there are examples of this association that do not contain this species. Other characteristic herbaceous species are Baptisia tinctoria, Cheilanthes lanosa, Coreopsis major, Corydalis sempervirens, Danthonia sericea, Lindernia monticola, Phlox nivalis, Schizachyrium scoparium, Scleria triglomerata, and Talinum teretifolium. Common woody species include Carya pallida, Chionanthus virginicus, Fraxinus americana, Juniperus virginiana, Kalmia latifolia, Pinus echinata, Pinus rigida, Quercus prinus (= Quercus montana), Rhododendron minus, Ulmus alata, and Vaccinium stamineum.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Occurrences of this community have structural and compositional similarities to Selaginella tortipila - Krigia montana - Houstonia longifolia Rocky Grassland (CEGL004283), which is typically at higher elevations (over 915 m [3000 feet]) and contains a suite of species not found at lower elevations. Occurrences vary locally based on slope steepness, aspect, age of vegetation mats, and smoothness of rock substrate. Some occurrences may be difficult to distinguish from Selaginella rupestris - Schizachyrium scoparium - Hylotelephium telephioides - Allium cernuum Granitic Glade Vegetation (CEGL004991), which is characterized by the presence of plants characteristic of higher pH conditions, better developed soils, and flat to gently sloping rock surfaces. This community is floristically similar to granitic flatrock communities which are scattered throughout the Piedmont from Virginia to Alabama. However, the steep domes described here lack the shallow pools and other microhabitats characteristic of the fractured rock in granitic flatrock communities, and thus have different vegetative components.

In an 1134-plot regional analysis (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia) for the Southern Appalachian portion of the Appalachian Trail, two plots from Union County, GA, were classified as this association. Both plots are at an unusually high elevation for the type and may be transitional to a higher-elevation association, but contain the characteristic species Selaginella rupestris, Schizachyrium scoparium, and Bulbostylis capillaris, along with Danthonia spicata, Deschampsia flexuosa, Hypericum prolificum, and Croton willdenowii (Fleming and Patterson 2009a).


Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.B - Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland
Formation 2.B.2 - Temperate Grassland & Shrubland
Division 2.B.2.Nc - Eastern North American Grassland & Shrubland
Macrogroup Appalachian Rocky Felsic & Mafic Scrub & Grassland
Group Central & Southern Appalachian Rocky Outcrop
Alliance Spikemoss - Little Bluestem Rocky Grassland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004283 Selaginella tortipila - Krigia montana - Houstonia longifolia Rocky Grassland
CEGL004298 Packera tomentosa - Croton willdenowii - Schizachyrium scoparium - (Selaginella rupestris) Flatrock Vegetation
CEGL004990 (Quercus prinus) / Vaccinium pallidum / Schizachyrium scoparium - Danthonia spicata / Cladonia spp. Scrub Grassland
CEGL004991 Selaginella rupestris - Schizachyrium scoparium - Hylotelephium telephioides - Allium cernuum Granitic Glade Vegetation
CEGL007043 Oxypolis rigidior - Drosera rotundifolia - Platanthera clavellata - Rhexia mariana var. mariana Herbaceous Seep



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
Alabama Selaginella rupestris - Schizachyrium scoparium - Hypericum gentianoides - Bulbostylis capillaris Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain ALNHP unpubl. data
North Carolina Low Elevation Granitic Dome Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Low Elevation Granitic Dome
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.297 Southern Appalachian Granitic Dome


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (30Apr1998)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Granitic domes are uncommon communities. Only 20 percent of the Piedmont Plateau is granite (Radford and Martin 1975), and only a small percentage of this granite occurs as massive, unweathered bodies that produce flatrocks and domes. Past quarrying has leveled many former granite domes (McVaugh 1943). This community provides open vistas that are attractive to humans, thus these fragile areas are threatened by pressures of recreational use. Given the island-like nature of this community, it is the habitat for many rare and endemic species and provides a unique contribution to biodiversity.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: AL, GA, NC, SCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is known from the Piedmont region of Georgia and North Carolina, and lower elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where steep, dome-shaped outcrops of granitic rock occur. Notable examples are in DeKalb County, Georgia, and in Alexander County, North Carolina.

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: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: In stands of this type, the vegetation consists primarily of lichens on bare rock, or of shallow mats generally dominated by Selaginella rupestris occurring with other distinctive species. Woody species from adjacent woodlands and shrublands may be scattered components, rooted in deeper soil pockets, older stable vegetation mats, and in marginal zones between the exposed rock and adjacent forests. Selaginella rupestris is almost always a major dominant of the vegetation mats. However, distribution of Selaginella rupestris can be spotty, so there are examples of this association that do not contain this species. Other characteristic herbaceous species are Baptisia tinctoria, Cheilanthes lanosa, Coreopsis major, Corydalis sempervirens, Danthonia sericea, Lindernia monticola, Phlox nivalis, Schizachyrium scoparium, Scleria triglomerata, and Talinum teretifolium. Common woody species include Carya pallida, Chionanthus virginicus, Fraxinus americana, Juniperus virginiana, Kalmia latifolia, Pinus rigida, Quercus prinus (= Quercus montana), Rhododendron minus, Ulmus alata, and Vaccinium stamineum.

In an example of this association in the Chattahoochee National Forest (upper Piedmont of Stephens County, Georgia, 231Ad34, ca. 303-350 m elev.), mats of Selaginella rupestris dominate the stand. Widely scattered trees include Pinus virginiana and Quercus prinus. A prevalent shrub is Rhus aromatica. Other herbs include Ageratina aromatica, Agrostis perennans, Andropogon sp. Cheilanthes lanosa, Packera anonyma (= Senecio anonymus), Solanum ptychanthum?, and the characteristic Talinum teretifolium. Examples of this association on granite gneiss at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site also contained patches of Amelanchier laevis and Pinus virginiana scattered in pockets of deeper soil.


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Croton elliottii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Krigia montana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Packera millefolia G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Pycnanthemum curvipes G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Selaginella rupestris G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Croton elliottii
  (Elliott's Croton)
G3  
Krigia montana
  (False Dandelion)
G3  
Packera millefolia
  (Blue Ridge Ragwort)
G3  
Pycnanthemum curvipes
  (Stone Mountainmint)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This association occurs on gently sloping to steep exposures of smooth, exfoliating granite or similar massive igneous or metamorphic rock, such as granitic gneiss. The substrate has few cracks or irregularities for soil accumulation, and most of the areal extent is bare rock. This association typically occurs at elevations below 915 m (3000 feet) but may be found at slightly higher ones.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.P. Schafale and K.D. Patterson
Element Description Edition Date: 11Feb2004
Element Description Author(s): Southeast Ecology Group
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 10Jun1999
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): K.D. Patterson

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


References
  • ALNHP [Alabama Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data on file. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Auburn University.

  • 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.

  • Keever, C., H. J. Oosting, and L. E. Anderson. 1951. Plant succession on exposed granite of Rocky Face Mountain, Alexander County, North Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 78:401-421.

  • Keever, N. C. 1942. Plant succession on exposed granite of Rocky Face Mountain in Alexander County, North Carolina. M.S. thesis, Duke University, Durham, NC.

  • McVaugh, R. 1943. The vegetation of the granitic flat-rocks of the southeastern United States. Ecological Monographs 13:120-166.

  • Peet, R. K., T. R. Wentworth, M. P. Schafale, and A.S. Weakley. No date. Unpublished data of the North Carolina Vegetation Survey. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

  • Quarterman, E., M. P. Burbanck, and D. J. Shure. 1993. Rock outcrop communities: Limestone, sandstone, and granite. Pages 35-86 in: W. H. Martin, S. G. Boyce, and A. C. Echternacht, editors. Biodiversity of the southeastern United States: Upland terrestrial communities. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

  • Radford, A. E., and D. L. Martin. 1975. Potential ecological natural landmarks: Piedmont region, eastern United States. University of North Carolina, Department of Botany, Chapel Hill. 249 pp.

  • Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 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.

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

  • Taggart, J. B. 1973. Floristic survey and vegetational analysis of Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina. M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. 51 pp.

  • Wharton, C. H. 1978. The natural environments of Georgia. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta. 227 pp.

  • White, Jr., R. D. 2003. Vascular plant inventory and plant community classification for Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 160 pp.


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