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Pinus pungens - Pinus rigida - (Quercus prinus) / Kalmia latifolia - Vaccinium pallidum Woodland
Translated Name: Table Mountain Pine - Pitch Pine - (Chestnut Oak) / Mountain Laurel - Blue Ridge Blueberry Woodland
Common Name: Blue Ridge Table Mountain Pine - Pitch Pine Woodland (Typic Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL007097
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association includes mostly evergreen woodlands dominated by Pinus pungens and/or Pinus rigida, occurring over a dense ericaceous shrub stratum, on sharp ridges, mostly above 610 m (2000 feet) elevation in the Southern Blue Ridge. This type is also found in limited areas of the inner Piedmont and Cumberland Mountains. This woodland occurs across a wide elevational range (485-1220 m [1600-4000 feet]), on exposed ridges and upper slopes with southerly and westerly exposures, over thin, excessively drained, nutrient-poor soils, and can be associated with rock outcroppings. Canopy coverage can often approach that of a forest, especially in areas where fire has been excluded and deciduous species have significant coverage. Deciduous species that can be important, particularly in the subcanopy, include Quercus prinus, Quercus coccinea, Quercus stellata, Nyssa sylvatica, Acer rubrum, and Oxydendrum arboreum. Pinus virginiana, Pinus echinata, and Pinus strobus can have high coverage and even codominate on some sites. The shrub stratum is dominated by ericaceous species, typically Kalmia latifolia and Leucothoe recurva in the tall-shrub stratum and Vaccinium pallidum as a low shrub. Other shrub species vary with location but include Vaccinium stamineum, Vaccinium simulatum, Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium hirsutum, Vaccinium corymbosum, Rhododendron maximum, Rhododendron minus, Gaylussacia ursina, Gaylussacia baccata, Buckleya distichophylla, Pyrularia pubera, and Fothergilla major. Species commonly found in the sparse herb stratum include Chimaphila maculata, Galax urceolata, Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum, Xerophyllum asphodeloides, Chamaelirium luteum, Comptonia peregrina, Leiophyllum buxifolium, Gaultheria procumbens, Iris verna, Dichanthelium spp., and Epigaea repens, although herbaceous species composition will vary within the range of this community. Smilax glauca is a common vine. Without periodic fire, this community will gradually succeed into forests dominated by Acer rubrum or Quercus prinus and Quercus coccinea, except on the most extreme sites, where this vegetation is self-perpetuating. It is thought that woodlands dominated by Pinus pungens are associated with more xeric conditions than woodlands dominated by Pinus pungens in combination with other tree species.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Other communities with Pinus pungens occur in central Pennsylvania and in Virginia. These northern types are thought to have a different species composition and geology than the forests described here. Species associated with Pinus pungens in the northern part of its range that do not occur in this community include Quercus ilicifolia, Viburnum acerifolium, and Vaccinium angustifolium. [See Pinus (pungens, rigida) - Quercus prinus / (Quercus ilicifolia) / Gaylussacia baccata Woodland (CEGL004996).] Examples of this association studied on lands of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in Cherokee County, North Carolina, include a substantial amount of Pinus echinata and lack Pinus pungens. These stands occur on low ridges (520-670 m [1700-2200 feet]) and otherwise, floristically, are a good match for this forest type. It is believed that they are transitional to low-elevation stands dominated by Pinus echinata in the Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley. In the Appalachian Trail classification study, 22 plots from Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia were classified as this association with a homoteneity of 68% (Fleming and Patterson 2009a). The most constant species (>64%), in order of descending constancy, are Kalmia latifolia, Acer rubrum, Quercus prinus, Quercus coccinea, Pinus rigida, Pinus pungens, Gaylussacia baccata, Gaylussacia ursina, Oxydendrum arboreum, Vaccinium pallidum, Nyssa sylvatica, Galax urceolata, and Gaultheria procumbens. Less constant species with high mean cover values (>5 cover class) in these plots are Pinus pungens, Pinus rigida, Gaylussacia baccata, Gaylussacia ursina, and Vaccinium hirsutum.

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-Northeastern Oak - Hardwood - Pine Forest & Woodland
Group Virginia Pine - Table Mountain Pine Woodland & Barrens
Alliance Appalachian Table Mountain Pine - Pitch Pine - Chestnut Oak Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004821 Pinus rigida - Quercus prinus / Gaylussacia baccata / Carex pensylvanica Woodland
CEGL004985 Pinus rigida - (Pinus pungens) / Rhododendron catawbiense - Kalmia latifolia / Galax urceolata Woodland
CEGL004996 Pinus (pungens, rigida) - Quercus prinus / (Quercus ilicifolia) / Gaylussacia baccata Woodland
CEGL007119 Pinus virginiana - Pinus (rigida, echinata) - (Quercus prinus) / Vaccinium pallidum 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 Pine--Oak/Heath (Typic Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
South Carolina Pine - Oak Heath Broader   Nelson 1986


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Pinus pungens - Pinus rigida - (Quercus montana) / Kalmia latifolia - Vaccinium pallidum Woodland
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: IA7b. Xeric Pitch Pine/Table Mountain Pine Ridge 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: Pine - Oak / Heath Woodland
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: Pine--Oak/Heath
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: Pitch Pine: 45
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: Ridge Pine Heath (Typic Subtype)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Table Mountain Pine type
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Golden, M. S. 1974. Forest vegetation and site relationships in the central portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 275 pp.
Related Concept Name: Xeric Pine Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: McLeod, D. E. 1988. Vegetation patterns, floristics, and environmental relationships in the Black and Craggy mountains of North Carolina. Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 222 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.331 Southern Appalachian Montane Pine Forest and Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (30Apr1998)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This community is endemic to the southern Appalachian Mountains where it is maintained by periodic fire or extreme site conditions. Recent studies show that acreage of this community has decreased due to fire suppression (Turrill and Buckner 1995) and that many remaining examples have substantial hardwood invasion. Lightning-set and high-intensity controlled burns are necessary to maintain and re-establish this community type. In addition, recent pine beetle outbreaks have killed off large areas of this community type in the past five years (1998-2003) in the Southeast. Due to this, the global rank may soon need to be adjusted to G2.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community ranges throughout the Southern Blue Ridge and Cumberland Mountains, from southwestern Virginia and southeastern Kentucky, south through western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, into northeastern Georgia and northwestern South Carolina.

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: 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: These mostly evergreen woodlands are characteristically dominated by Pinus pungens and/or Pinus rigida, occurring over a dense ericaceous shrub stratum. Deciduous species that can be important, particularly in the subcanopy, include Quercus prinus, Quercus coccinea, Quercus stellata (in lower elevation occurrences), Nyssa sylvatica, Acer rubrum, and Oxydendrum arboreum. Pinus virginiana, Pinus echinata, and Pinus strobus can have high coverage and even codominate on some sites. The shrub stratum is dominated by ericaceous species, typically Kalmia latifolia and Leucothoe recurva in the tall-shrub stratum and Vaccinium pallidum as a low shrub. Other shrub species vary with location, but include Vaccinium stamineum, Vaccinium simulatum, Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium hirsutum, Vaccinium corymbosum, Rhododendron maximum, Rhododendron minus, Gaylussacia ursina, Gaylussacia baccata, Buckleya distichophylla, Pyrularia pubera, Castanea dentata, Castanea pumila, and Fothergilla major. Species commonly found in the sparse herb stratum include Chimaphila maculata, Galax urceolata, Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum, Xerophyllum asphodeloides, Chamaelirium luteum, Comptonia peregrina, Leiophyllum buxifolium, Gaultheria procumbens, Iris verna, Melampyrum lineare, Dichanthelium spp., and Epigaea repens, although herbaceous species composition will vary within the range of this community. Smilax glauca is a common vine. Species in this community which have the bulk of their worldwide range in the Southern Blue Ridge include Leiophyllum buxifolium, Pieris floribunda, Pinus pungens, and Xerophyllum asphodeloides. Other rare species include Fothergilla major, Robinia hispida var. fertilis, Robinia hispida var. rosea, and Robinia viscosa var. viscosa.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Robinia viscosa var. viscosa G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Pinus pungens G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Pinus rigida G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga caroliniana G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Acer rubrum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Nyssa sylvatica G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Oxydendrum arboreum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Quercus prinus G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Buckleya distichophylla G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Robinia hispida var. fertilis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Robinia hispida var. kelseyi G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Robinia hispida var. rosea G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Vaccinium hirsutum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Pieris floribunda G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Fothergilla major G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Kalmia latifolia G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Epigaea repens G3 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Gaultheria procumbens G3 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Comptonia peregrina G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Vaccinium pallidum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Leiophyllum buxifolium G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Galax urceolata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Xerophyllum asphodeloides G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Canoparmelia amabilis G3 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Buckleya distichophylla
  (Piratebush)
G3  
Canoparmelia amabilis
  (Canoparmelia Lichen)
G1  
Fothergilla major
  (Mountain Witch-alder)
G3  
Robinia hispida var. fertilis
  (Fruitful Locust)
G4T1Q  
Robinia hispida var. kelseyi
  (Kelsey's Locust)
G4T1  
Robinia hispida var. rosea
  (Purple Locust)
G4T3?  
Robinia viscosa var. viscosa
  (Clammy Locust)
G3T3  
Tsuga caroliniana
  (Carolina Hemlock)
G3  
Vaccinium hirsutum
  (Hairy Blueberry)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This association is typically found on sharp ridges mostly above 610 m (2000 feet) elevation in the Southern Blue Ridge. This woodland occurs across a wide elevation range from 488 to 1220 m (1600-4000 feet) in the Southern Appalachians, on exposed ridges and upper slopes with southerly and westerly exposures, over thin, excessively drained, nutrient-poor soils, and can be associated with rock outcroppings. It is thought that woodlands dominated by Pinus pungens are associated with more xeric conditions than woodlands dominated by Pinus pungens in combination with other tree species (Zobel 1969, Barden 1977).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Fire contributes to the maintenance of this community by destroying the litter layer, opening the canopy, releasing seed from the serotinous cones, and killing competing vegetation. Red squirrels are known to cut branches to remove the Pinus pungens cones. It is thought this "squirrel grazing" may decrease the growth and vigor of trees (Zobel 1969). Canopy removal by icestorms stimulate oak sprouting and release advanced regeneration (Williams and Johnson 1992). Canopy coverage in stands of this association can often approach that of a forest, especially in areas where fire has been excluded and deciduous species have significant coverage. Without periodic fire, this community will gradually succeed into forests dominated by Quercus prinus and Quercus coccinea, except on the most extreme sites, where this vegetation is self-perpetuating (Newell and Peet 1994). However, recent regional pine beetle kills throughout large areas of the Southeast have accelerated the rate of succession in most of these stands. This acceleration of succession may lead to conversion of these forests to hardwoods in the long term (M. Jenkins pers. comm.).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.P. Schafale and A.S. Weakley, mod. Southern Blue Ridge Planning Team
Element Description Edition Date: 24Feb2010
Element Description Author(s): M.P. Schafale and A.S. Weakley
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 30Apr1998
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): Southeastern 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.

  • Barden, L. S. 1977. Self-maintaining populations of Pinus pungens Lam. in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Castanea 42:316-323.

  • 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. 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. 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.

  • Golden, M. S. 1974. Forest vegetation and site relationships in the central portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 275 pp.

  • Golden, M. S. 1981. An integrated multivariate analysis of forest communities of the central Great Smoky Mountains. The American Midland Naturalist 106:37-53.

  • Hedlin, A. F., H. O. Yates, III, D. C. Tover, B. H. Ebel, T. W. Koerber, and E. P. Merkel. 1981. Cone and seed insects of North American conifers. Cooperative Publication. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC.

  • McLeod, D. E. 1988. Vegetation patterns, floristics, and environmental relationships in the Black and Craggy mountains of North Carolina. Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 222 pp.

  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • 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.

  • Newell, C. L., and R. K. Peet. 1995. Vegetation of Linville Gorge Wilderness, North Carolina. Unpublished report. to USDA Forest Service. University of North Carolina, Department of Biology, Chapel Hill. 211 pp.

  • 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.

  • Racine, C. H. 1966. Pine communities and their site characteristics in the Blue Ridge escarpment. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 82:172-181.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Turrill, N. L., and E. R. Buckner. 1995. The loss of Southern Appalachian Pinus pungens Lam. due to fire suppression. ASB Bulletin 42:109.

  • 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.

  • White, R. D., Jr. 2006. Vascular plant inventory and ecological community classification for Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 246 pp.

  • Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs 26:1-80.

  • Williams, C. E. 1991. Maintenance of the disturbance-dependent Appalachian endemic, Pinus pungens, under low disturbance regimes. Natural Areas Journal 11:169-170.

  • Williams, C. E., M. V. Lipscomb, W. C. Johnson, and E. T. Nilsen. 1990a. Influence of leaf litter and soil moisture on early establishment of Pinus pungens. The American Midland Naturalist 124:142-152.

  • Williams, C. E., and W. C. Johnson. 1990. Age structure and the maintenance of Pinus pungens in pine-oak forests of southwestern Virginia. The American Midland Naturalist 124:130-141.

  • Williams, C. E., and W. C. Johnson. 1992. Factors affecting recruitment of Pinus pungens in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 22:878-887.

  • Zobel, D. B. 1969. Factors affecting the distribution of Pinus pungens, an Appalachian endemic. Ecological Monographs 39:303-333.


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