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Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina Forest
Translated Name: Sugar Maple - Yellow Birch - Black Cherry Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian Northern Hardwood Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006045
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This northern hardwood forest of the Allegheny Plateau and central Appalachian Mountains occurs on moderate to deep, acidic to circumneutral loams or loamy sands, mesic to wet-mesic and nutrient-rich soils, on flat to moderate slopes. A thick layer of fallen leaves often occurs. In the glaciated portion of the range, this vegetation occurs on glacial tills, and in the unglaciated portion on sandstone or shale of northern slopes and high elevations. Prunus serotina is an important canopy component, with Acer saccharum, Betula alleghaniensis, and Fagus grandifolia. Other associates include Acer rubrum, Fraxinus americana, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Betula lenta, Ostrya virginiana, Pinus strobus, Quercus rubra, Tsuga canadensis, and (at least in the southern portion of this type's range) Liriodendron tulipifera. Acer rubrum may be the most abundant tree in stands with recent harvests. Conifers contribute less than 25% cover, in general. The shrub layer consists of Acer pensylvanicum, Corylus cornuta, Hamamelis virginiana, Lonicera canadensis, Amelanchier arborea, Viburnum acerifolium, and (in the unglaciated portion of the range) Ilex montana. Herbs include Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Lycopodium spp., Arisaema triphyllum, Aralia nudicaulis, Chimaphila maculata, Clintonia borealis, Lycopodium spp., Maianthemum canadense, Oxalis montana, Viola rotundifolia, Pteridium aquilinum, Dryopteris intermedia, and Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus (= Streptopus roseus).



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Stands with repeated harvests can be difficult to classify to this versus other northern hardwood and hardwood/oak associations.

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 Rich Northern Hardwood Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006029 Picea rubens - Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia / Dryopteris intermedia Forest
CEGL007285 Betula alleghaniensis - Fagus grandifolia / Viburnum lantanoides / Eurybia chlorolepis - Dryopteris intermedia Forest
CEGL008502 Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer spicatum / Dryopteris intermedia - Oclemena acuminata 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
New York Beech-Maple Mesic Forest Intersects   Edinger et al. 2002
New York Hemlock-northern hardwood forest Intersects   Edinger et al. 2002
Pennsylvania Black Cherry - Northern Hardwood Forest Equivalent   Fike 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Vanderhorst, J., and B. P. Streets. 2006. Vegetation classification and mapping of Camp Dawson Army Training Site, West Virginia: Second approximation. Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 83 pp.
Related Concept Name: Prunus serotina - Acer saccharum - Fagus grandifolia / Carex digitalis - (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) 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]
Relationship: = - Equivalent
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: Prunus serotina - Quercus rubra / Dennstaedtia punctilobula - Carex digitalis Association
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1996. Ecological land units of the Laurel Fork Area, Highland County, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 114 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Black Cherry - Maple: 28
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: Maple-beech-birch-cherry northern hardwoods (matrix)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
Related Concept Name: Mixed montane hardwood forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Vanderhorst, J. 2001a. Plant community classification and mapping of the Camp Dawson Collective Training Area, Preston County, West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 101 pp.
Related Concept Name: Northern Hardwood Forest
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.593 Appalachian (Hemlock)-Northern Hardwood Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (28Sep2001)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Although the total geographic range of this association is not large, it is a matrix forest community and covers large areas in the Allegheny Plateau region and Allegheny Mountains.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, NY, PA, VA, WV
Canadian Province Distribution: QCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: The principal range of this community type is the Allegheny Plateau region of southern New York and northern Pennsylvania, extending south along the high Allegheny Mountains of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. In Virginia, the type is widespread only on Allegheny Mountain in northwest Highland County, but occurs locally in disjunct, high-elevation areas of the Ridge and Valley, Cumberland Mountains and, very rarely, the northern Blue Ridge.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Warm Continental Division
Province Name: Laurentian Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 212 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Glaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 212F Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 212G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 221E Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: Western Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 221F 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: Allegheny Mountains Section
Section Code: M221B 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: The type encompasses closed-canopy deciduous forests generally dominated by Acer saccharum, Betula alleghaniensis, and Fagus grandifolia. In addition, Prunus serotina is a prominent associate that increases in importance following logging and other disturbances. Acer rubrum may be the most abundant tree in stands with recent harvests. Additional woody and herbaceous associates reported from throughout the range include Acer rubrum, Betula lenta, Quercus rubra, Pinus strobus, Tsuga canadensis, Acer pensylvanicum, Corylus cornuta, Hamamelis virginiana, Lonicera canadensis, Viburnum acerifolium, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Dryopteris intermedia, Lycopodium spp., Maianthemum canadense, Oxalis montana, and Clintonia borealis. In Virginia, Acer saccharum, Prunus serotina, Quercus rubra, and Acer rubrum are the most abundant canopy trees, while Betula alleghaniensis is an infrequent component. Fagus grandifolia, Betula lenta, and Fraxinus americana are frequent, though rarely codominant canopy associates. Canopy composition varies occasionally to nearly pure Acer saccharum. Lower woody layers are usually open, patchy, and dominated mostly by Acer pensylvanicum, Acer saccharum, and Fagus grandifolia. The herb layers of many stands are characterized by patch-dominance of Dennstaedtia punctilobula. Other more-or-less constant or characteristic herbaceous species are Anemone lancifolia, Arisaema triphyllum, Carex appalachica, Carex digitalis, Carex blanda, Carex debilis, Carex leptonervia, Milium effusum, Polystichum acrostichoides, Solidago curtisii, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Viola blanda, and Viola rotundifolia. Several uncommon or state-rare plant species associated with this vegetation in Virginia, including Carex arctata, Milium effusum, and Schizachne purpurascens, reach or approach their southern range limits in Highland County.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fagus grandifolia G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Prunus serotina G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Acer pensylvanicum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Anemone lancifolia G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola blanda G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola hastata G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Dennstaedtia punctilobula G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Carex arctata G4 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex leptonervia G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Milium effusum G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Schizachne purpurascens G4 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: In the main portion of its range, this community occurs on glacial tills or on higher-elevation sites underlain by sandstone or shale. Stands are generally associated with deep, acidic to circumneutral loams or loamy sands on flat to moderate, mesic slopes. Forest-floor habitats are often characterized by thick leaf litter. In Virginia, this association is generally restricted to cool slopes over 915 m (3000 feet) on Allegheny Mountain and over 1070 m (3500 feet) elsewhere. Mean elevation of 19 plot-sampled stands in Virginia is 1090 m (3575 feet). In West Virginia, elevations range from 585 to 860 m (1920-2820 feet). In the Allegheny Mountains, it occupies a variety of slope positions and aspects. At disjunct sites further south, stands typically occupy middle to upper, north-facing slopes. Site moisture conditions range from mesic to submesic. Soils are extremely acidic (mean pH = 3.9 in Virginia samples and 4.8 in West Virginia samples), with low base status. Virtually all Virginia sites supporting this community have a history of intensive logging and subsequent fires in the early part of the twentieth century. On sites that were cut using narrow-gauge railroads and steam-powered cable skidders, pit-and-mound scars are extensive (Fleming and Moorhead 1996).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The importance of Prunus serotina, Acer rubrum, and Quercus rubra in contemporary Virginia and West Virginia examples of this community type, as well as on the High Allegheny Plateau, reflects secondary succession following catastrophic logging and fire disturbances in the early part of the twentieth century. Acer saccharum and Fagus grandifolia, both abundant in understory layers, appear positioned to assume dominance as current stands mature. However, beech-bark disease and excessive deer browsing are serious threats to the future viability of the largest stands on Allegheny Mountain (Fleming and Moorhead 1996). Although widespread in the eastern United States, Prunus serotina reaches maximal productivity and importance in the cool, mesic, Alleghenian northern hardwoods region (Braun 1950, Fowells 1965, Eyre 1980). While most abundant in secondary forests, this species is probably able to persist as an associate of Acer saccharum and Fagus grandifolia in mature stands due to its prolific reproduction, ability to colonize gaps, rapid growth, and relatively long life (Fowells 1965).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 04Oct2006
Element Description Author(s): G. Fleming, E. Largay and S.C. Gawler
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Sep2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G. Fleming

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


References
  • Braun, E. L. 1950. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Hafner Press, New York. 596 pp.

  • CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.

  • CDPNQ [Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec]. No date. Unpublished data. Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec, Québec.

  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2002. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. (Draft for review). New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation, Bureau of Forestry, Harrisburg, PA. 86 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. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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.

  • Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1996. Ecological land units of the Laurel Fork Area, Highland County, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 114 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fowells, H. A, compiler. 1965. Silvics of the forest trees of the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 271. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 762 pp.

  • Harrison, J. W. 2011. The natural communities of Maryland: 2011 working list of ecological community groups and community types. Unpublished report. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Natural Heritage Program, Annapolis. 33 pp.

  • Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

  • Lundgren, J., editor. 2001. Plant communities of the High Allegheny Plateau Ecoregion. Draft revisions to the National Vegetation Classification, March 2000 subset. Natural Heritage Central Databases. The Association for Biodiversity Information, Arlington, VA, and The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Regional Office, Boston, MA. 71 pp. plus tables.

  • Perles, S. J., G. S. Podniesinski, E. A. Zimmerman, E. Eastman, and L. A. Sneddon. 2006d. Vegetation classification and mapping at Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2006/079. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.

  • VDNH [Virginia Division of Natural Heritage]. 2003. The natural communities of Virginia: Hierarchical classification of community types. Unpublished document, working list of November 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Ecology Group, Richmond.

  • Vanderhorst, J. 2001a. Plant community classification and mapping of the Camp Dawson Collective Training Area, Preston County, West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 101 pp.

  • Vanderhorst, J., and B. P. Streets. 2006. Vegetation classification and mapping of Camp Dawson Army Training Site, West Virginia: Second approximation. Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 83 pp.


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