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Betula alleghaniensis - Tilia americana var. heterophylla / Acer spicatum / Ribes cynosbati / Dryopteris marginalis Forest
Translated Name: Yellow Birch - Appalachian Basswood / Mountain Maple / Eastern Prickly Gooseberry / Marginal Woodfern Forest
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Hardwood Rich Boulderfield Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL004982
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association includes boulderfield forests of the Southern Appalachians, with abundant Betula alleghaniensis, but in habitats that allow for more diverse canopies, including other species such as Aesculus flava, Betula lenta, and Tilia americana var. heterophylla. This community occurs in a cool, humid climate, on steep, rocky, northwest- to northeast-facing, middle to upper concave slopes, or in saddles between ridges, at moderate to high elevations (610-1220 m [2000-4000 feet]) of the Blue Ridge and possibly ranging into the Cumberland Mountains and adjacent Ridge and Valley and Appalachian Plateau provinces. It grows on bouldery talus and is often associated with small streams and seepage. Betula alleghaniensis in the canopy are often stunted and gnarled, with roots that may have grown to encircle the boulders. The canopy is much more open than the surrounding forest and tree windthrow is common, leaving patches of exposed mineral soil and gaps in the canopy. A woody layer of shrubs and vines is usually well-developed. Rooting opportunities for most herbaceous plants is limited because of the development of this community on periglacial boulderfields of blocky talus, thus herbaceous cover is only sparse to moderate. Typical shrubs and vines which are more abundant in this type than in other associations in this alliance include Acer spicatum, Aristolochia macrophylla, Hydrangea arborescens, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Toxicodendron radicans, Vitis spp., Ribes cynosbati, and Ribes rotundifolium. Dryopteris marginalis is often an abundant herb. This type is conceptually similar to Betula alleghaniensis / Ribes glandulosum / Polypodium appalachianum Forest (CEGL006124), which is more restricted to more extreme boulderfield situations at high elevations (1370-1615 m [4500-5300 feet]). The association described here generally occurs at lower elevations in less extreme environmental situations and lacks species characteristic of high elevations. However, it ranges to higher elevations than the typical rich cove forests with which it shares canopy species. Similar Betula alleghaniensis-dominated forests occur on glaciated rocky slopes in the upper mid-Atlantic and in the northeastern United States. The Betula alleghaniensis-dominated periglacial boulderfields of the southern Appalachian Mountains are distinguished from the northern forests by the occurrence of Southern Appalachian endemic species, better developed shrub layers and slightly less species diversity.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association includes boulderfield forests of the Southern Appalachians, with abundant Betula alleghaniensis, but in habitats that allow for more diverse canopies, including other species such as Aesculus flava, Betula lenta, and Tilia americana var. heterophylla. This community occurs in a cool, humid climate, on steep, rocky, northwest- to northeast-facing, middle to upper concave slopes, or in saddles between ridges, at moderate to high elevations (610-1220 m [2000-4000 feet]) of the Blue Ridge and possibly ranging into the Cumberland Mountains and adjacent Ridge and Valley and Appalachian Plateau provinces. It grows on bouldery talus and is often associated with small streams and seepage. Betula alleghaniensis in the canopy are often stunted and gnarled, with roots that may have grown to encircle the boulders. The canopy is much more open than the surrounding forest and tree windthrow is common, leaving patches of exposed mineral soil and gaps in the canopy. A woody layer of shrubs and vines is usually well-developed. Rooting opportunities for most herbaceous plants is limited because of the development of this community on periglacial boulderfields of blocky talus, thus herbaceous cover is only sparse to moderate. Typical shrubs and vines which are more abundant in this type than in other associations in this alliance include Acer spicatum, Aristolochia macrophylla, Hydrangea arborescens, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Toxicodendron radicans, Vitis spp., Ribes cynosbati, and Ribes rotundifolium. Dryopteris marginalis is often an abundant herb. This type is conceptually similar to Betula alleghaniensis / Ribes glandulosum / Polypodium appalachianum Forest (CEGL006124), which is more restricted to more extreme boulderfield situations at high elevations (1370-1615 m [4500-5300 feet]). The association described here generally occurs at lower elevations in less extreme environmental situations and lacks species characteristic of high elevations. However, it ranges to higher elevations than the typical rich cove forests with which it shares canopy species. Similar Betula alleghaniensis-dominated forests occur on glaciated rocky slopes in the upper mid-Atlantic and in the northeastern United States. The Betula alleghaniensis-dominated periglacial boulderfields of the southern Appalachian Mountains are distinguished from the northern forests by the occurrence of Southern Appalachian endemic species, better developed shrub layers and slightly less species diversity.

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 Central & Southern Appalachian Buckeye - Northern Hardwood Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006124 Betula alleghaniensis / Ribes glandulosum / Polypodium appalachianum Forest
CEGL007710 Liriodendron tulipifera - Fraxinus americana - (Aesculus flava) / Actaea racemosa - Laportea canadensis 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
Kentucky Appalachian Mesophytic Forest Broader   Evans 1991
Kentucky Cumberland Highlands Forest Broader   Evans 1991
North Carolina Rich Cove Forest (Boulderfield Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Betula alleghaniensis - Tilia americana var. heterophylla / Acer spicatum / Ribes cynosbati / Dryopteris marginalis Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Major, C. S., C. Bailey, J. Donaldson, R. McCoy, C. Nordman, M. Williams, and D. Withers. 1999. An ecological inventory of selected sites in the Cherokee National Forest. Cost Share Agreement #99-CCS-0804-001. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.
Related Concept Name: Appalachian Mesophytic Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Evans, M. 1991. Kentucky ecological communities. Draft report to the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. 19 pp.
Related Concept Name: Boulderfield Forest
Relationship: I - Intersecting
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: Cumberland Highlands Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Evans, M. 1991. Kentucky ecological communities. Draft report to the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. 19 pp.
Related Concept Name: IA4c. Yellow Birch Boulderfield 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: Oligotrophic Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Rawinski, T. J. 1992. A classification of Virginia's indigenous biotic communities: Vegetated terrestrial, palustrine, and estuarine community classes. Unpublished document. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report No. 92-21. Richmond, VA. 25 pp.
Related Concept Name: Rich Cove Forest
Relationship: I - Intersecting
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: Rich Cove Forest (Boulderfield Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Yellow Birch, BR
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Pyne, M. 1994. Tennessee natural communities. Unpublished document. Tennessee Department of Conservation, Ecology Service Division, Nashville. 7 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.373 Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2G3 (22Jan2008)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This community is scattered throughout the high mountains but is fairly uncommon. Unlike many other forest types in the Southern Appalachians, this community has not historically been threatened by logging as much as other types because of the stunted nature of the trees and the relative inaccessibility to loggers of these boulderfields. North Carolina, in which most of the examples should be found, estimates to have about 15 occurrences, mostly small ones (M. Schafale pers. comm. 2007).

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GA, KYpotentially occurs, NC, TN, VApotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States.

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: 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: This association includes boulderfield forests of the Southern Appalachians, with abundant Betula alleghaniensis, but in habitats that allow for more diverse canopies, including other species such as Aesculus flava, Betula lenta, and Tilia americana var. heterophylla. Betula alleghaniensis in the canopy are often stunted and gnarled, with roots that may have grown to encircle the boulders. The canopy is much more open than the surrounding forest and tree windthrow is common, leaving patches of exposed mineral soil and gaps in the canopy. A woody layer of shrubs and vines is usually well-developed. Rooting opportunities for most herbaceous plants is limited because of the development of this community on periglacial boulderfields of blocky talus, thus herbaceous cover is only sparse to moderate. Typical shrubs and vines which are more abundant in this type than in other associations in this alliance include Acer spicatum, Aristolochia macrophylla, Toxicodendron radicans, Hydrangea arborescens, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Ribes cynosbati, and Ribes rotundifolium. Dryopteris marginalis is often an abundant herb.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Aesculus flava G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Betula alleghaniensis G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Betula lenta G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Acer spicatum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Aristolochia macrophylla G2 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Acer spicatum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Hydrangea arborescens G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ribes cynosbati G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Ribes rotundifolium G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Aconitum reclinatum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Cardamine clematitis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Geum geniculatum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Micranthes careyana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Scutellaria saxatilis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Solidago glomerata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Stachys clingmanii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Dryopteris marginalis 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
Aconitum reclinatum
  (White Monkshood)
G3  
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis
  (Appalachian White Snakeroot)
G5T3T4  
Cardamine clematitis
  (Small Mountain Bittercress)
G3  
Geum geniculatum
  (Bent Avens)
G2  
Micranthes careyana
  (Carey's Saxifrage)
G3  
Scutellaria saxatilis
  (Rock Skullcap)
G3  
Solidago glomerata
  (Skunk Goldenrod)
G3  
Stachys clingmanii
  (Clingman's Hedge-nettle)
G2  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs in a cool, humid climate, usually found on steep, rocky, northwest- to northeast-facing, middle to upper concave slopes, or in saddles between ridges, at moderate to high elevation (610-1220 m [2000-4000 feet]). These forests grow over bouldery talus and are often associated with small streams and seepage.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Southern Blue Ridge Planning Team
Element Description Edition Date: 22Jan2008
Element Description Author(s): M.P. Schafale and M. Pyne
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 22Jan2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): K.D. Patterson, mod. M.P. Schafale

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.

  • Chafin, L. G., and S. B. Jones, Jr. 1989. Community structure of two Southern Appalachian boulderfields. Castanea 54:230-237.

  • Evans, M. 1991. Kentucky ecological communities. Draft report to the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. 19 pp.

  • Evans, M., B. Yahn, and M. Hines. Kentucky ecological communities. 2009. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, KY.

  • 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.

  • Major, C. S., C. Bailey, J. Donaldson, R. McCoy, C. Nordman, M. Williams, and D. Withers. 1999. An ecological inventory of selected sites in the Cherokee National Forest. Cost Share Agreement #99-CCS-0804-001. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.

  • 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.

  • Pyne, M. 1994. Tennessee natural communities. Unpublished document. Tennessee Department of Conservation, Ecology Service Division, Nashville. 7 pp.

  • Rawinski, T. J. 1992. A classification of Virginia's indigenous biotic communities: Vegetated terrestrial, palustrine, and estuarine community classes. Unpublished document. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report No. 92-21. Richmond, VA. 25 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.

  • TDNH [Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage]. No date. Unpublished data. Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.


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