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Tsuga caroliniana / Kalmia latifolia - Rhododendron catawbiense Forest
Translated Name: Carolina Hemlock / Mountain Laurel - Catawba Rosebay Forest
Common Name: Carolina Hemlock Forest (Typic Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL007139
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These forests occur with canopies dominated by Tsuga caroliniana, without admixtures of Pinus species, although Quercus prinus may be present as a minor component. Shrub strata tend to be dense and dominated by ericaceous species such as Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, and Rhododendron minus. Other minor components may include Pinus virginiana, Pinus rigida, Pinus pungens, Nyssa sylvatica, and Quercus coccinea. Other characteristic species can include Xerophyllum asphodeloides, Leucothoe recurva, Polypodium appalachianum, Smilax rotundifolia. This forest occurs in the upper Piedmont and Southern Blue Ridge, on narrow ridges and upper north-facing rocky slopes.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Although no doubt a rare, small-patch community type in Virginia, additional examples are likely and should be sought. The long-term impact of hemlock woolly adelgid on Tsuga caroliniana needs systematic study. The role of fires in the ecology of Tsuga caroliniana communities is also unclear, since evidence of stand expansion following both following fires and periods of fire exclusion have been noted (Schafale and Weakley 1990). Rentch et al. (2000) found that Tsuga caroliniana dominating a site in Bottom Creek Gorge (Montgomery County, Virginia) was long-lived, very tolerant of drought stresses, and had reproduced episodically over the past 200 years. No evidence of fire is mentioned in this paper.

Six plots from Tennessee and Virginia were classified as this association in the Appalachian Trail classification project (Fleming and Patterson 2009a). These plot samples vary from the core association concept in that they have only moderate coverage (> 25%) by ericaceous shrubs and a mixed canopy with 10-75% cover by Tsuga caroliniana, with Quercus rubra, Quercus prinus, and Quercus alba. The most constant species (>67%) in these plots, in order of descending constancy, are Tsuga caroliniana, Quercus rubra, Acer rubrum, Quercus prinus, Quercus alba, Nyssa sylvatica, Betula lenta, Pinus strobus, Acer pensylvanicum, and Viburnum acerifolium.

Examples in North Carolina include Hickorynut Gorge, Linville Gorge, Hanging Rock State Park.


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 Carolina Hemlock Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006178 Tsuga caroliniana - Pinus (rigida, pungens, virginiana) Forest
CEGL008524 Quercus prinus / Rhododendron catawbiense - Kalmia latifolia 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 Carolina Hemlock Forest (Typic Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Tsuga caroliniana / Kalmia latifolia - Rhododendron catawbiense Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
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: Carolina Hemlock Bluff
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: Carolina Hemlock Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
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: Carolina Hemlock Forest (Typic 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: Eastern Hemlock: 23
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: IA6g. Carolina Hemlock Bluff 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.

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: G2 (31Dec1997)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Tsuga caroliniana communities, in general, have a restricted range, occurring primarily in the Southern Blue Ridge, with scattered occurrences in the upper Piedmont and Ridge and Valley of North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Virginia. Occurrences are typically small and restricted to rocky bluff habitats. All occurrences are threatened by fire suppression and the exotic pest the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) which causes tree decline and ultimately death in Tsuga canadensis and Tsuga caroliniana. The taxonomy of Tsuga caroliniana communities needs further assessment.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NC, SC, TN, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: Tsuga caroliniana communities, in general, have a restricted range, occurring primarily in the Southern Blue Ridge, with scattered occurrences in the upper Piedmont and Ridge and Valley of North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Virginia.

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: These forests occur with canopies dominated by Tsuga caroliniana, without admixtures of Pinus species, although Quercus prinus may be present as a minor component. Shrub strata tend to be dense and dominated by ericaceous species such as Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, and Rhododendron minus. Other minor components may include Pinus virginiana, Pinus rigida, Pinus pungens, Nyssa sylvatica, and Quercus coccinea. Other characteristic species can include Xerophyllum asphodeloides, Leucothoe recurva, Polypodium appalachianum, and Smilax rotundifolia.

Virginia stands are strongly dominated by Tsuga caroliniana, with Quercus prinus the most important canopy associate. Quercus rubra, Quercus alba, several Pinus spp., Nyssa sylvatica, and Acer rubrum are minor canopy associates. Acer rubrum, Amelanchier arborea, and Sassafras albidum are common understory trees, while Rhododendron catawbiense, Kalmia latifolia, and Hamamelis virginiana are dominant shrubs. Additional shrubs include Pieris floribunda, Vaccinium pallidum, Rhododendron periclymenoides, and Gaylussacia baccata. The herb layer is generally sparse with scattered individuals or patches of Aralia nudicaulis, Carex pensylvanica, Chimaphila maculata, Cunila origanoides, and Hexastylis virginica. Species richness ranges from 12 to 19 taxa per 400 m2 (mean = 16).


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Tsuga caroliniana G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Buckleya distichophylla G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Rhododendron catawbiense G2 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Kalmia latifolia G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Leucothoe recurva G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Pieris floribunda G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Xerophyllum asphodeloides G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Polypodium appalachianum G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Smilax rotundifolia G2 Liana Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Buckleya distichophylla
  (Piratebush)
G3  
Tsuga caroliniana
  (Carolina Hemlock)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: Over the full range of this type, stands typically occur on narrow ridges and upper, north-facing rocky slopes. Four documented Virginia stands, including three plot-sampled by DCR-DNH ecologists and one studied intensively by Rentch et al. (2000), occurred at elevations from 591-1075 m (1940-3525 feet). Sites include a narrow spur ridge crest, one upper slope, and two middle slopes, with south, southwest, and north aspects. Slopes are strongly convex. Two sites have substantial surface cover of rocks (70% and 31%), while the other two sites have negligible rock cover. Soils are extremely acidic (mean pH = 3.8), with very low calcium and magnesium levels and high iron and aluminum levels.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A.S. Weakley and K.D. Patterson, mod. G. Fleming and P. Coulling
Element Description Edition Date: 01Oct2001
Element Description Author(s): A.S. Weakley, K.D. Patterson, G. Fleming and P. Coulling
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 31Dec1997
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.

  • 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., 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Rentch, J. S., H. S. Adams, R. B. Coxe, and S. L. Stephenson. 2000. An ecological study of a Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) community in southwestern Virginia. Castanea 65(1):1-8.

  • 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.

  • Weakley, A. S., L. A. Mehrhoff, III, and L. Mansberg. 1979. Natural area inventory--Master plan for Bluff Mountain, Ashe County, North Carolina. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, North Carolina Field Office, Carrboro. 225 pp.


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