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Quercus muehlenbergii - Cercis canadensis / Packera obovata - Lithospermum canescens Woodland
Translated Name: Chinquapin Oak - Eastern Redbud / Roundleaf Ragwort - Hoary Puccoon Woodland
Common Name: Chinquapin Oak Limestone Woodland
Unique Identifier: CEGL006231
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This open calcareous glade occurs in the Central Appalachians in the Ridge and Valley of northeastern West Virginia, western Virginia, and in central southeastern Pennsylvania. The vegetation occurs on moderate slopes at elevations ranging from 400-730 m (1300-2400 feet). Slopes are typically south- or southwest-facing and about 20-30 but may be much steeper. Soils are shallow, dry, stony, calcareous loams derived from limestone or dolomite bedrock. Trees are generally widely spaced and relatively short (3-10 m). Quercus muehlenbergii is the dominant tree, with associates including Cercis canadensis, Juniperus virginiana, Celtis tenuifolia, Fraxinus americana, and Ostrya virginiana usually present. Shrubs are often of sparse cover but may include Rhus aromatica and Rosa sp. (= Rosa tenuifolia?). Cornus florida may be a common woody associate in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The herbaceous layer is patchy but may be quite diverse. Graminoids include Bouteloua curtipendula, Carex eburnea, Elymus hystrix (= Hystrix patula), Carex pensylvanica, Poa compressa, Danthonia spicata. Associated forbs include Anemone virginiana, Symphyotrichum undulatum (= Aster undulatus), Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (= Aster oblongifolius), Asclepias verticillata, Houstonia longifolia, Penstemon hirsutus, Viola spp., Antennaria plantaginifolia, Phlox subulata, Lithospermum canescens, Cynoglossum officinale, Allium cernuum, Solidago ulmifolia, Solidago arguta var. harrisii (= Solidago harrisii), Packera obovata (= Senecio obovatus), Blephilia ciliata, Galium pilosum, Arabis lyrata, Heuchera americana, Draba ramosissima, Pycnanthemum incanum, Aquilegia canadensis, Helianthus divaricatus, Scutellaria ovata, Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica (= Silene pensylvanica), Sisyrinchium mucronatum, Minuartia michauxii (= Arenaria stricta), Euphorbia corollata, Paronychia montana, and Paronychia virginica.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: Field survey of this vegetation and its cliff habitats can be a dangerous undertaking and many stands have not been thoroughly explored or plot-sampled. Most Virginia occurrences are small (0.1-1.0 ha ) but some exceed 4.0 ha (10 acres) on the more massive cliffs. This community type is distinct from prairie-like calcareous "barrens" occurring on steep hillslopes and dominated by warm-season perennial grasses (e.g., Schizachyrium scoparium, Andropogon gerardii, Bouteloua curtipendula, Sorghastrum nutans) with scattered woody scrub. These barrens are represented in western Virginia by two community types, neither of which is known to occur in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests.

At present, this type is a broadly defined unit that encompasses a variety of rocky calcareous habitats. Virginia stands of this vegetation have a strong restriction to cliffs and rocky escarpments, as well as a composition that differs somewhat from stands in other portions of the range. These differences are reflected in the State Name, which is more useful for field identification and descriptive purposes in Virginia. However, there is some compositional and environmental heterogeneity among the plot samples supporting our interpretation of this vegetation, with six plots representing strict cliff/outcrop vegetation on limestone and three plots representing clifftop habitats on dolomite. The latter subgroup has habitats with considerable areas of exposed mineral soil and has much higher mean species richness (n = 83 taxa per 400 m2 vs. 37 taxa per 100 m2). Additional data collection and analysis over the full geographic range and in Virginia is clearly warranted and will likely result in splitting of this type.

A Juniperus virginiana - Quercus muehlenbergii / Carex eburnea Woodland community identified by Fleming (1999) appears to be a segregate associated with xeric cliffs.


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 Northeastern Chinquapin Oak - Red-cedar Alkaline Forest & Woodland
Alliance Appalachian Limestone Chinquapin Oak Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL002144 Quercus muehlenbergii - Quercus (alba, velutina) - (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana) Driftless Bluff Woodland
CEGL004267 Quercus muehlenbergii - (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana) Unglaciated Bluff Woodland
CEGL004271 Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana - Fraxinus quadrangulata / Symphyotrichum oblongifolium - Panicum flexile - Sedum pulchellum Woodland
CEGL007994 Fraxinus quadrangulata - Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana / Schizachyrium scoparium - Lithospermum canescens Woodland



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
Pennsylvania Side-oats Gramma Calcareous Grassland Finer   Fike 1999
Pennsylvania Yellow Oak - Redbud Woodland Finer   Fike 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Juniperus virginiana - Quercus muhlenbergii / Carex eburnea - Pellaea atropurpurea 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: Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana - Quercus muehlenbergii / Carex eburnea Woodland (4.2)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 1999. Plant communities of limestone, dolomite, and other calcareous substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-4. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 218 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Quercus muehlenbergii - Cercis canadensis / Packera obovata - Lithospermum canescens Woodland
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.
Related Concept Name: Chinquapin oak-redbud calcareous woodland (northern type?)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
Related Concept Name: Glade Woodland
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Bartgis, R. L. 1993. The limestone glades and barrens of West Virginia. Castanea 58:69-89.
Related Concept Name: Montane Dry Calcareous Forest / 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.602 Central Appalachian Alkaline Glade and Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (27Dec2000)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This association occurs in northeastern West Virginia, western Virginia and the calcareous region in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. Thirty occurrences or more are estimated in Virginia, due to the large number of limestone / dolomite cliffs along major ridge and valley rivers. Many of the occurrences are probably 1-2 acres but some exceed 10 acres on the more massive cliffs. It is restricted to calcareous soils derived from limestone or dolomite bedrock.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, OH, PA, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is found in the ridge and valley region of northeastern West Virginia, western Virginia, and calcareous areas in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. Its range in West Virginia is limited.

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: St. Lawrence and Champlain Valley Section
Section Code: 212E 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: Northern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 221D Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: Southern Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 221E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Warm Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Adirondack-New England Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M212 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: White Mountain Section
Section Code: M212A 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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Over most of the type's range, Quercus muehlenbergii is the dominant tree, with associates including Cercis canadensis, Juniperus virginiana, Celtis tenuifolia, Fraxinus americana, and Ostrya virginiana usually present. Trees are generally widely spaced and relatively short (3-10 m). Shrubs often contribute sparse cover but may include Rhus aromatica and Rosa carolina. The herb layer is patchy but frequently quite diverse. Graminoids include Bouteloua curtipendula, Carex eburnea, Elymus hystrix, Carex pensylvanica, Poa compressa, and Danthonia spicata. Associated forbs include Anemone virginiana, Symphyotrichum undulatum (= Aster undulatus), Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (= Aster oblongifolius), Asclepias verticillata, Houstonia longifolia, Penstemon hirsutus, Viola spp., Antennaria plantaginifolia, Phlox subulata, Lithospermum canescens, Cynoglossum officinale, Allium cernuum, Solidago ulmifolia, Solidago arguta var. harrisii (= Solidago harrisii), Packera obovata (= Senecio obovatus), Blephilia ciliata, Galium pilosum, Arabis lyrata, Heuchera americana, Draba ramosissima, Pycnanthemum incanum, Aquilegia canadensis, Helianthus divaricatus, Scutellaria ovata, Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica (= Silene pensylvanica), Sisyrinchium mucronatum, Minuartia michauxii (= Arenaria stricta), Euphorbia corollata, Paronychia montana, and Paronychia virginica.

Most plot-sampled Virginia stands form open to very sparse woodlands with stunted trees 6-10 m tall contributing 25-40% cover. Stands in the most stressful microhabitats often assume shrubland stature. Juniperus virginiana is the most abundant and characteristic woody species in both the small tree and shrub layers, with Quercus muehlenbergii and Quercus rubra more or less constant associates. Cercis canadensis and Ostrya virginiana are constant shrub associates, while Philadelphus hirsutus (hairy mock-orange) and Fraxinus quadrangulata (blue ash) are important shrubs at southern end of the range in the Cumberland Mountains. The herb layer is very open (usually <40% stratum cover), with low shrubs and vines such as Rhus aromatica, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and Toxicodendron radicans contributing constant but low cover. Lithophytes prevail among herbaceous species; relatively constant and/or locally abundant herbs include Aquilegia canadensis, Asplenium resiliens, Carex eburnea, Carex pensylvanica, Draba ramosissima, Heuchera americana, Minuartia michauxii, Pellaea atropurpurea, Phlox subulata, Packera obovata, and Symphyotrichum oblongifolium. Exotic weeds are occasionally present in small numbers but do not thrive in the thin, rocky soils.


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Cercis canadensis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus quadrangulata G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus muehlenbergii G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Juniperus virginiana G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Symphoricarpos albus G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Paxistima canbyi G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Cynoglossum officinale G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Galium boreale G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lithospermum canescens G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Minuartia michauxii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Packera obovata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago arguta var. harrisii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Taenidia integerrima G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Asplenium ruta-muraria var. cryptolepis G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Pellaea atropurpurea G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Andropogon virginicus G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex eburnea G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Melica nitens G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Poa compressa G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Sporobolus compositus G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Sporobolus neglectus G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Paxistima canbyi
  (Canby's Mountain-lover)
G2  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This open calcareous glade occurs in the Central Appalachians in the Ridge and Valley of northeastern West Virginia, western Virginia, and in central southeastern Pennsylvania. The vegetation occurs on moderate slopes at elevations ranging from 400-730 m (1300-2400 feet). Slopes are typically south- or southwest-facing and about 20-30 but may be much steeper. Soils are shallow, dry, stony, calcareous loams derived from limestone or dolomite bedrock. Trees are generally widely spaced and relatively short (3-10 m).

Throughout the global range of this type, sites are located on limestone and dolomitic slopes at elevations ranging from <300-800 m (<1000-2600 feet). Soils are shallow, stony, calcareous loams and clay loams. In Virginia, this vegetation type is generally associated with exposed, xeric cliffs and other large outcrops of carbonate rock. Sites are typically on the upper portions or spur crests of sideslopes undercut by rivers or large streams. Slopes are predominantly and sometimes dramatically convex, with rugged, complex, and variable microtopography. Surface cover of exposed bedrock and loose stones is high (mean = 50%) in plot-sampled stands, with most plants rooted in crevices and on thin-soiled ledges. The surficial rock and associated edaphic stresses often limit both vegetation cover and species richness, which is comparatively low (n = 52) among community types on calcareous substrates. Soil samples collected from plots representing this type are circumneutral to moderately alkaline (mean pH = 7.2) with very high calcium levels (mean = 3127 ppm) and moderately to very high magnesium levels (mean = 559 ppm). Periodic drought stress appears to result in occasional mortality of trees and shrubs in these habitats.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G. Fleming and P. Coulling
Element Description Edition Date: 01Oct2001
Element Description Author(s): G. Fleming and P. Coulling
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 27Dec2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): C. Reschke, mod. L.A. Sneddon

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


References
  • Bartgis, R. L. 1993. The limestone glades and barrens of West Virginia. Castanea 58:69-89.

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

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

  • 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. 1999. Plant communities of limestone, dolomite, and other calcareous substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-4. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 218 pp. plus appendices.

  • 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. 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 K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Grossman, D. H., K. Lemon Goodin, and C. L. Reuss, editors. 1994. Rare plant communities of the conterminous United States: An initial survey. The Nature Conservancy. Arlington, VA. 620 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.

  • Sneddon, L., and S. Menard, editors. 2002. International classification of ecological communities: Terrestrial vegetation of the United States, Western Allegheny Plateau. Draft revisions based on contributions of the Western Allegheny Plateau Ecology Group. Unpublished report. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • 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.


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