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Tsuga canadensis - Liriodendron tulipifera - Platanus occidentalis / Rhododendron maximum - Xanthorhiza simplicissima Wet Forest
Translated Name: Eastern Hemlock - Tuliptree - American Sycamore / Great Laurel - Yellowroot Wet Forest
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Small River Floodplain Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL007143
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association covers forested wetlands dominated by mesophytic species with an admixture of alluvial or wetland species, that occur on temporarily flooded alluvial flats and ravines in the Southern Blue Ridge, the Cumberlands, and in adjacent ecoregions. These dense forests usually occur over silty to sandy, acidic soils. The canopy is usually a mix of species that includes Tsuga canadensis, Liriodendron tulipifera, Platanus occidentalis, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum, and a variety of other mesophytic and upland species. It may range from strong dominance by Tsuga to its virtual absence. The shrub and herbaceous strata may be dense to open, but have components indicative of the temporarily flooded hydrology, thus separating this type from similar, non-wetland communities. Rhododendron maximum is a typical shrub and can form a dense subcanopy, but Xanthorhiza simplicissima, Alnus serrulata, or other species indicative of flooding are present. The herbaceous layer generally includes species indicative of flooding as well as mesophytic upland species.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association may be difficult to separate from similar non-wetland vegetation (e.g., Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest (CEGL007543), Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum - (Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest (CEGL007102), and Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum - (Clethra acuminata, Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest (CEGL007136)) and similar vegetation with saturated soils and longer hydroperiods (e.g., Tsuga canadensis - Acer rubrum - (Nyssa sylvatica) / Rhododendron maximum / Sphagnum spp. Seep Forest (CEGL007565) and Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Forest (CEGL006279)). The distinction from upland communities can be made based on the presence of multiple species indicative of flooding and alluvial processes, such as Platanus occidentalis, Xanthorhiza simplicissima, Boehmeria cylindrica, Carex torta, and a variety of other herbaceous species, even if these species rarely dominate. Because of flood dispersal of seeds, this association is likely to have combinations of species of fertile and infertile soils not found in related uplands. The saturated wetland communities with similar canopies are generally distinguished by an abundance of wetland ferns, sedges, Sphagnum spp., and other bryophytes, with a lack of the species characteristic of more fertile soils.

This association can also be difficult to distinguish from forests of larger floodplains, such as Platanus occidentalis - Liriodendron tulipifera - (Betula alleghaniensis) / Alnus serrulata - Leucothoe fontanesiana Floodplain Forest (CEGL004691). Larger floodplain communities have a larger set of species characteristic of alluvial processes, with many that are rarely or never found in this association. These include Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Celtis laevigata, Juglans cinerea, Quercus imbricaria, Chasmanthium latifolium, and Elymus riparius.


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-Central Interior Mesic Forest
Alliance Southern Hemlock - Tuliptree Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006019 Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Acer pensylvanicum / Polystichum acrostichoides Forest
CEGL006279 Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Forest
CEGL006620 Tsuga canadensis - Quercus rubra - Platanus occidentalis / Rhododendron maximum / Anemone quinquefolia Forest
CEGL007102 Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum - (Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest
CEGL007136 Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum - (Clethra acuminata, Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest
CEGL007543 Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest
CEGL007565 Tsuga canadensis - Acer rubrum - (Nyssa sylvatica) / Rhododendron maximum / Sphagnum spp. Seep Forest
CEGL008405 Liriodendron tulipifera - Pinus strobus - (Tsuga canadensis) / Carpinus caroliniana / Amphicarpaea bracteata 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 Montane Alluvial Forest (Small River Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
Tennessee Tsuga canadensis - Liriodendron tulipifera - Platanus occidentalis / Rhododendron maximum - Xanthorhiza simplicissima Temporarily Flooded Forest Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Hemlock Type
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Schmalzer, P. A., and H. R. DeSelm. 1982. Vegetation, endangered and threatened plants, critical plant habitats and vascular flora of the Obed Wild and Scenic River. Unpublished report. USDI National Park Service, Obed Wild and Scenic River. 2 volumes. 369 pp.
Related Concept Name: Hemlock-Tulip Tree Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schmalzer, P. A. 1978. Classification and analysis of forest communities in several coves of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. M.S. thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 24 pp.
Related Concept Name: IIA6e. Southern Appalachian Alluvial 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: Montane Alluvial Forest
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: Montane Alluvial Forest (Small River Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998a. Fourth approximation guide. Mountain wetlands. February 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, Mike P. Personal communication. Ecologist, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.706 South-Central Interior Small Stream and Riparian


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (03Sep2002)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, VApotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is known from the Southern Blue Ridge from southwestern Virginia, south to northern Georgia, ranging into the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky, and possibly into the Ridge and Valley of Virginia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Cumberland Plateau Section
Section Code: 221H 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: 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: Stands of this forested alluvial association are dominated by combinations of Tsuga canadensis, Liriodendron tulipifera, Platanus occidentalis, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum, and Pinus strobus. Occasionally, Tsuga canadensis or Pinus strobus is strongly dominant. Other trees may include Fraxinus americana, Betula alleghaniensis, Quercus alba, Halesia tetraptera, Fagus grandifolia, and Liquidambar styraciflua. Carpinus caroliniana is the most common subcanopy tree. The shrub and herbaceous strata may be dense to open, but have components indicative of the temporarily flooded hydrology. Rhododendron maximum is a typical shrub and can form a dense thicket, or Leucothoe fontanesiana, Lindera benzoin, Hamamelis virginiana, or Kalmia latifolia may dominate. Xanthorhiza simplicissima, Alnus serrulata, or other species indicative of flooding are present. The herbaceous layer includes species indicative of flooding as well as mesophytic upland species. Dominant species include Amphicarpaea bracteata or Thelypteris noveboracensis, or may be a mixture of species of fertile mesophytic uplands. Occasionally, bryophyte cover is high.

In eastern Kentucky (Campbell 2001), stands may contain Acer rubrum and Liriodendron tulipifera. Other trees include Fagus grandifolia, Ilex opaca, Liquidambar styraciflua, Nyssa sylvatica, and Oxydendrum arboreum. Shrub cover may be low but contains patches of Rhododendron maximum, with scattered Alnus serrulata, Carpinus caroliniana, Clethra acuminata, Hamamelis virginiana, Leucothoe fontanesiana, and Kalmia latifolia. Ground cover may be sparse, with scattered patches of Carices (Carex gracilescens, Carex laxiculmis, Carex lucorum), Hexastylis arifolia, Medeola virginiana, Thelypteris noveboracensis, and others. Nearer to the stream channel, species such as Carex torta, Carex gynandra, Carex baileyi, Viola cucullata, and Xanthorhiza simplicissima may be more common. More disturbed parts of the stand may contain Betula spp., Magnolia spp., and local patches of Pinus strobus (Campbell 2001). In North Carolina, the herbaceous layer may include Arisaema triphyllum, Chamaelirium luteum, Cicuta maculata, Claytonia virginica, Glyceria melicaria, Polygonum punctatum, and Packera aurea (= Senecio aureus) (Schafale and Weakley 1990). More information is needed to adequately describe the rangewide features of this community and distinguish it from similar vegetation.


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Pinus strobus G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga canadensis G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy
 
 
Leucothoe fontanesiana G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Rhododendron maximum G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Hexastylis contracta G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Hexastylis contracta
  (Southern Heartleaf)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: These dense forested alluvial wetlands occur on temporarily flooded alluvial flats and ravines along creeks and small rivers. These forests usually occur over silty or sandy, acidic soils. Forests may be eroded or disturbed by catastrophic floods, sometimes severe enough to return forests to an early-successional stage, but usually causing only local disturbance. The flood-carried sediments provide some nutrient inputs into the system. Beavers may create impoundments that may later form early-successional stands (Schafale and Weakley 1990).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: These communities are subject to scouring by floods. Occasionally, flood damage is severe enough to return the community to an early-successional state, but more commonly it consists only of local scouring and sediment deposition.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Southeastern Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 16Apr2010
Element Description Author(s): T. Govus and M.P. Schafale
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Dec1997

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.

  • Campbell, J. 2001. Native vegetation types of Appalachian Kentucky. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Lexington, KY. 210 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.

  • Schafale, M. 1998a. Fourth approximation guide. Mountain wetlands. February 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.

  • Schmalzer, P. A. 1978. Classification and analysis of forest communities in several coves of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. M.S. thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 24 pp.

  • Schmalzer, P. A., and H. R. DeSelm. 1982. Vegetation, endangered and threatened plants, critical plant habitats and vascular flora of the Obed Wild and Scenic River. Unpublished report. USDI National Park Service, Obed Wild and Scenic River. 2 volumes. 369 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.


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