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Alnus serrulata - Lindera benzoin / Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis - Carex tetanica Seepage Shrubland
Translated Name: Hazel Alder - Northern Spicebush / Royal Fern - Rigid Sedge Seepage Shrubland
Common Name: Ridge and Valley Calcareous Shrubby Seep
Unique Identifier: CEGL008408
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: The type is strictly confined to hillside seeps and lateral seepage zones in small stream bottoms of Central Appalachian Virginia. Physiognomically, this association is a patchwork of shrubs and small herbaceous openings. Mean total shrub stratum cover in four plots is 50%, and mean total herbaceous cover is 75%. Small trees are rooted along the edges of the shrublands in three plots. Alnus serrulata and Lindera benzoin are the dominant shrubs. Photinia pyrifolia (= Aronia arbutifolia), Hamamelis virginiana, Kalmia latifolia, Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina, sapling Acer rubrum, sapling Liriodendron tulipifera, and sapling Pinus strobus are frequent shrub stratum associates. Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis strongly dominates the herbaceous layer in three of the four plots; Carex tetanica dominates the fourth plot. Sedge cover is generally high, with Carex atlantica ssp. atlantica, Carex echinata ssp. echinata, Carex gracillima, and Carex leptalea also common to locally abundant. Selaginella apoda and Packera aurea (= Senecio aureus) are relatively constant (75%) species that attain moderately high cover in one and two plots, respectively. Relatively constant herbaceous species with low mean cover include Carex granularis, Dichanthelium dichotomum, Drosera rotundifolia var. rotundifolia, Glyceria striata (= var. striata), Linum striatum, Osmunda cinnamomea, Oxypolis rigidior, Phlox maculata ssp. pyramidalis, Solidago rugosa, Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens, and Viola cucullata.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: This community type is compositionally and environmentally distinct from other groundwater slope wetlands that have been documented in the Virginia mountain region. Floristically, it contains an enigmatic mixture of species including the prominent calciphiles Carex flava, Carex hystericina, Carex tetanica, Cirsium muticum, Cypripedium reginae, Eleocharis erythropoda, Juncus brachycephalus, Pedicularis lanceolata, Physocarpus opulifolius, and Thuja occidentalis. By contrast, Calopogon tuberosus var. tuberosus, Carex intumescens, Drosera rotundifolia var. rotundifolia, Eriophorum virginicum, Gaylussacia baccata, Parnassia asarifolia, and Pogonia ophioglossoides suggest oligotrophy, as all are more characteristically associated with "bogs" and other nutrient-poor, acidic wetlands. Some examples of this vegetation were formerly treated as Carex leptalea - Parnassia grandifolia - Rhynchospora alba Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL004997).

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Nd - Eastern North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Eastern North American Cool Temperate Seep
Group Central & Southern Appalachian Seep
Alliance Southern Appalachian Acidic Seep

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



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Alnus serrulata / Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis - Carex tetanica - Carex leptalea Shrubland
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: Alnus serrulata / Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis - Carex tetanica Shrubland
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.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Calcareous Fen
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
CES202.607 North-Central Appalachian Seepage Fen


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1? (13Apr2000)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This community type appears to be very rare and restricted in occurrence.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is known from scattered sites in the Ridge and Valley of western Virginia. It may occur in adjacent states.

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: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Physiognomically, this unit is a patchwork of shrubs and small herbaceous openings. Mean total shrub stratum cover in four plots is 50%, and mean total herbaceous cover is 75%. Small trees are rooted along the edges of the shrublands in three plots. Alnus serrulata and Lindera benzoin are the dominant shrubs. Photinia pyrifolia (= Aronia arbutifolia), Hamamelis virginiana, Kalmia latifolia, Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina, sapling Acer rubrum, sapling Liriodendron tulipifera, and sapling Pinus strobus are frequent shrub stratum associates. Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis strongly dominates the herbaceous layer in three of the four plots; Carex tetanica dominates the fourth plot. Sedge cover is generally high, with Carex atlantica ssp. atlantica, Carex echinata ssp. echinata, Carex gracillima, and Carex leptalea also common to locally abundant. Selaginella apoda and Packera aurea (= Senecio aureus) are relatively constant (75%) species that attain moderately high cover in one and two plots, respectively. Relatively constant herbaceous species with low mean cover include Carex granularis, Dichanthelium dichotomum, Drosera rotundifolia var. rotundifolia, Glyceria striata (= var. striata), Linum striatum, Osmunda cinnamomea, Oxypolis rigidior, Phlox maculata ssp. pyramidalis, Solidago rugosa, Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens, and Viola cucullata.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer rubrum G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Alnus serrulata G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Liriodendron tulipifera G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus rigida G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Lindera benzoin G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Aronia arbutifolia G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Gaylussacia baccata G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Calopogon tuberosus G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Calopogon tuberosus var. tuberosus G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Campanula aparinoides G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Cypripedium reginae G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Doellingeria umbellata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lilium superbum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Linum striatum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lobelia siphilitica var. siphilitica G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Melanthium virginicum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Mimulus ringens var. ringens G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Oxypolis rigidior G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Packera aurea G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Parnassia grandifolia G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Pedicularis lanceolata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Phlox maculata ssp. pyramidalis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Pogonia ophioglossoides G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Porteranthus trifoliatus G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Pycnanthemum torrei G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Senna hebecarpa G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago rugosa G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Spiranthes cernua G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Vernonia noveboracensis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola cucullata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Selaginella apoda G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Drosera rotundifolia var. rotundifolia G1 Succulent forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex atlantica ssp. atlantica G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex buxbaumii G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex debilis var. debilis G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex echinata ssp. echinata G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex flava G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex granularis G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex hystericina G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex leptalea G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex tetanica G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Dichanthelium dichotomum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Eleocharis erythropoda G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Eleocharis tenuis var. tenuis G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Eriophorum virginicum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Juncus acuminatus G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Juncus brachycephalus G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Juncus subcaudatus var. subcaudatus G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Leersia oryzoides G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Muhlenbergia sylvatica G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Rhynchospora alba G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Rhynchospora capitellata G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Scirpus atrovirens G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Typha latifolia G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Parnassia grandifolia
  (Largeleaf Grass-of-Parnassus)
G3  
Pycnanthemum torrei
  (Torrey's Mountainmint)
G2  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: The type is strictly confined to hillside seeps and lateral seepage zones in small stream bottoms of Central Appalachian Virginia. Known occurrences are very small (0.1 to 0.4 ha) and occupy moderately to very elongate areas with requisite hydrologic conditions. Three discrete occurrences are located 0.4 km to 1.8 km apart in the Dismal Creek valley of Giles County in southwest Virginia; a fourth occurrence is a well-known wetland along Peters Mill Run in the Massanutten Mountains of northwest Virginia (Shenandoah County). Hydrologically, the habitats are classified as "groundwater slope wetlands," where groundwater is discharged at the ground surface and carried away as stream flow (Golet et al. 1993). The sites are saturated for most or all of the growing season and contain areas of very shallow surface water, but are never inundated by flood waters. The Dismal Creek sites have a mean slope of 6 and are situated in headwaters seeps with braided, hummock-and-streamlet microtopography. The seepage rills and streamlet channels at these sites contain large areas of exposed gravel, with superficial accumulations of organic muck up to about 10-12 cm deep in adjacent areas and on hummocks in the channels. At the Peters Mill Run site, due to a natural levee bordering the stream, seepage from the base of a slope collects in a slightly concave bottom before slowly draining off into a forested seepage swamp. Soil in the center of this wetland is quaking peat of unknown depth. Soil samples collected from these habitats ranged from medium acidic to neutral in pH (mean = 6.2), with exchangeable calcium ranging from 1253 to 4108 ppm (mean = 2356 ppm).

All of the habitats are situated in areas where Devonian / Silurian melanges of interbedded limestone, sandstone, and shale are mapped at low to middle elevations (mean = 645 m [2116 feet]). The forests surrounding the seeps are typical of acidic, oligotrophic sandstone slopes, but there is no doubt, based on soil samples and the presence of obligate calciphiles, that the wetlands are being supplied with calcium by groundwater. It is not known whether the calcium originates from subsurficial interbedded limestone or from the presence of calcium concretions in the sandstone.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming and A.S. Weakley
Element Description Edition Date: 13Apr2000
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming and A.S. Weakley
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 13Apr2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): A.S. Weakley

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


References
  • 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., 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.

  • Golet, F. C., A. J. K. Calhoun, W. R. DeRagon, D. J. Lowry, and A. J. Gold. 1993. Ecology of red maple swamps in the glaciated Northeast: A community profile. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington, DC. 151 pp.

  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • 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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