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Fraxinus profunda - Nyssa biflora - (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) / Ilex verticillata / Polygonum arifolium Tidal Forest
Translated Name: Pumpkin Ash - Swamp Tupelo - (Green Ash) / Common Winterberry / Halberd-leaf Tearthumb Tidal Forest
Common Name: Pumpkin Ash - Swamp Tupelo Freshwater Tidal Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006287
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This open- to closed-canopy swamp forest occurs on fresh tidal rivers from Delaware to Virginia and is best developed in the Chesapeake Bay drainage. It occurs at the upper reaches of tidal influence (and somewhat beyond in some cases) and generally receives diurnal or irregular tidal flooding. The canopy is dominated by few tree species, generally Fraxinus profunda, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, and Nyssa biflora. Other canopy associates vary among occurrences and often include Nyssa sylvatica, Acer rubrum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Magnolia virginiana, Ulmus americana, and Pinus taeda. The shrub layer is well-developed and includes Lindera benzoin, Clethra alnifolia, Leucothoe racemosa, Ilex verticillata, Ilex opaca, Ilex laevigata, Alnus serrulata, Rhododendron viscosum, Viburnum dentatum, Viburnum nudum, Viburnum recognitum, Viburnum prunifolium, Amelanchier canadensis, Morella cerifera, Vaccinium corymbosum, Vaccinium fuscatum, Itea virginica, Rosa palustris, Magnolia virginiana, and Cornus foemina. Alnus maritima is also characteristic in Outer Coastal Plain stands in Maryland and Delaware. Vines may be dense and include Smilax rotundifolia, Smilax laurifolia, Toxicodendron radicans, Apios americana, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Bignonia capreolata, and Dioscorea villosa. The herbaceous layer is variable in composition and richness. Common associates include Polygonum arifolium, Polygonum sagittatum, Peltandra virginica, Saururus cernuus, Carex bromoides, Impatiens capensis, Boehmeria cylindrica, Carex intumescens, Leersia oryzoides, Commelina virginica, Cicuta maculata, Arisaema triphyllum, Thalictrum pubescens, Thelypteris palustris, Woodwardia areolata, Carex stricta, Zizania aquatica, Cinna arundinacea, Osmunda cinnamomea, and Osmunda regalis. The invasive exotic Murdannia keisak can also occur in this association. In addition, stands that have suffered significant loss of canopy trees (presumably due to stress from sea-level rise) may be intermediate in appearance and composition between swamp forest and herbaceous marsh. This association is differentiated from tidal swamps to the north by the presence of species of southern affinity, including Magnolia virginiana, Nyssa biflora, and Pinus taeda.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is differentiated from tidal swamps to the north by the presence of species of southern affinity, including Magnolia virginiana, Nyssa biflora, and Pinus taeda. This type is documented by more than 60 plots from the Chester, Choptank, James, Mattaponi, Nanticoke, Pamunkey, Pocomoke, and Potomac river drainages in Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.3 - Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Division 1.B.3.Nb - Southeastern North American Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Southern Coastal Plain Floodplain Forest
Group Southern Ash - Elm - Willow Floodplain Forest
Alliance Green Ash - Red Maple - Red-cedar Tidal Floodplain Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006165 Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Polygonum spp. Floodplain Forest
CEGL006850 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa biflora - Fraxinus profunda / Peltandra virginica - (Bignonia capreolata) Tidal 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
Delaware Ash-Swamp Blackgum Freshwater Tidal Swamp Equivalent Certain Coxe 2009
Maryland Fraxinus (profunda, pennsylvanica) - (Nyssa biflora) / Polygonum arifolium Woodland Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acer rubrum - Fraxinus (pennsylvanica, profunda) Tidal Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Clancy, K. 1996. Natural communities of Delaware. Unpublished review draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Smyrna, DE. 52 pp.
Related Concept Name: Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica Tidal Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Bowman, P. 2000. Draft classification for Delaware. Unpublished draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program.
Related Concept Name: Fraxinus (pennsylvanica, profunda) / Ilex verticillata / Polygonum punctatum - Peltandra virginica - Saururus cernuus Tidally Flooded Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: McCoy, K. M., and G. P. Fleming. 2000. Ecological communities of U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Belvoir, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Army. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 156 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Fraxinus (profunda, pennsylvanica) - (Nyssa biflora) / Polygonum arifolium 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: Fraxinus profunda - Nyssa biflora - (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) / Ilex verticillata / Polygonum arifolium Tidal 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]
Related Concept Name: Fraxinus profunda - Nyssa biflora / Ilex verticillata - Alnus serrulata / Polygonum arifolium Tidal Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Coulling, P. P. 2002. A preliminary classification of tidal marsh, shrub swamp, and hardwood swamp vegetation and assorted non-tidal, chiefly non-maritime, herbaceous wetland communities of the Virginia Coastal Plain. October 2002. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-18. 30 pp.
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: Fraxinus profunda - Nyssa biflora / Ilex verticillata / Polygonum arifolium Tidal Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Walton, D. P., P. P. Coulling, J. Weber, A. Belden, Jr., and A. C. Chazal. 2001. A plant community classification and natural heritage inventory of the Pamunkey River floodplain. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-19. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 200 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Ash-blackgum swamp
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Rheinhardt, R. 1992. A multivariate analysis of vegetation patterns in tidal freshwater swamps of lower Chesapeake Bay, USA. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 119:192-207.
Related Concept Name: Maple-sweetgum swamp
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Rheinhardt, R. 1992. A multivariate analysis of vegetation patterns in tidal freshwater swamps of lower Chesapeake Bay, USA. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 119:192-207.
Related Concept Name: Tidal Hardwood Swamp
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.
Relationship: B - Broader
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.282 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Swamp


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (03Dec1998)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This tidal hardwood swamp community has a restricted range, being confined to tidal rivers of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. It is estimated that there are fewer than 100 occurrences and 85,000 acres rangewide. The community is threatened by damming of rivers which results in restricting tidal influence and thus community structure and composition. It is also threatened by agricultural practices, particularly by pesticide and fertilizer runoff.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: DC, DE, MD, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is restricted to tidal rivers in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 232 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain Section
Section Code: 232A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The canopy of this freshwater tidal swamp is dominated by few tree species, generally Fraxinus profunda, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, and Nyssa biflora. Other canopy associates vary among occurrences and often include Nyssa sylvatica, Acer rubrum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Magnolia virginiana, Ulmus americana, and Pinus taeda. The shrub layer is well-developed and includes Lindera benzoin, Clethra alnifolia, Leucothoe racemosa, Ilex verticillata, Ilex opaca, Ilex laevigata, Alnus serrulata, Rhododendron viscosum, Viburnum dentatum, Viburnum nudum, Viburnum recognitum, Viburnum prunifolium, Amelanchier canadensis, Morella cerifera, Vaccinium corymbosum, Vaccinium fuscatum, Itea virginica, Rosa palustris, and Cornus foemina. Alnus maritima is also characteristic in Outer Coastal Plain stands in Maryland and Delaware. Rheinhardt (1992) noted that the richness of subcanopy and shrub species rivals that of any temperate forest in eastern North America. Vines may also be dense and include Apios americana, Dioscorea villosa, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Smilax rotundifolia, Smilax laurifolia, and Toxicodendron radicans. The herbaceous layer is variable in composition and richness. Common associates include Arisaema triphyllum, Boehmeria cylindrica, Carex bromoides, Carex intumescens, Carex stricta, Cicuta maculata, Cinna arundinacea, Commelina virginica, Impatiens capensis, Leersia oryzoides, Osmunda cinnamomea, Osmunda regalis, Peltandra virginica, Polygonum arifolium, Polygonum sagittatum, Saururus cernuus, Thalictrum pubescens, Thelypteris palustris, Woodwardia areolata, and Zizania aquatica. Invasive exotics such as Murdannia keisak and Clematis terniflora may also occur in this association.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus profunda G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Nyssa biflora G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Alnus maritima G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ilex verticillata G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Murdannia keisak G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polygonum arifolium G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Clematis terniflora G3 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Alnus maritima
  (Seaside Alder)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs along fresh reaches of tidal rivers, usually receiving diurnal or irregular tidal flooding. There is distinct hummock-and-hollow microtopography with hollows flooded during higher tides. Development and persistence of this association appears to be limited downstream by halinity and upstream by the availability of sufficient sediment. Hence, tidal hardwood swamps are associated primarily with the upper (higher halinity) end of the freshwater portion of the halinity gradient and typically occur on higher landscape positions adjacent to tidal freshwater marshes. Soil is generally organic-rich and contains a frequently deep organic horizon over silty alluvial deposits. Pronounced hummock-and-hollow microtopography is characteristic. Hollows are inundated by diurnal tides; hummocks may be only irregularly flooded, and the tops of hummocks are only rarely (< annually) submerged (Rheinhardt 1992).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Fraxinus pennsylvanica and Nyssa biflora tend to sort out where there is longer inundation and a mean water table near the hummock surface. Acer rubrum and Liquidambar styraciflua tend to occur where the mean water table is relatively lower (Rheinhardt 1992). Duration of flooding is a poorer predictor of canopy composition than mean depth of flooding. Certain sites exhibit crown stress and tree mortality from sea-level rise, resulting in a shift from forest to woodland physiognomy and the apparent invasion by herbaceous species characteristic of emergent marshes. On the Pamunkey River in east-central Virginia, several herbaceous species, particularly Agalinis purpurea and Rhynchospora macrostachya (= var. colpophila), appear to be more common and characteristic of these disturbed stands than in either undisturbed tidal swamp forests or marshes.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Eastern Ecology Group, mod. S.L. Neid
Element Description Edition Date: 24May2007
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid and G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Dec1998
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): 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
  • Berdine, M. A. 1998. Maryland vegetation classification. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD.

  • Bowman, P. 2000. Draft classification for Delaware. Unpublished draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program.

  • Clancy, K. 1996. Natural communities of Delaware. Unpublished review draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Smyrna, DE. 52 pp.

  • Coulling, P. P. 2002. A preliminary classification of tidal marsh, shrub swamp, and hardwood swamp vegetation and assorted non-tidal, chiefly non-maritime, herbaceous wetland communities of the Virginia Coastal Plain. October 2002. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-18. 30 pp.

  • Coxe, R. 2009. Guide to Delaware vegetation communities. Spring 2009 edition. State of Delaware, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna.

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

  • Fleming, G. P. 2001a. Community types of Coastal Plain calcareous ravines in Virginia. Preliminary analysis and classification. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 4 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., K. Taverna, and P. P. Coulling. 2007b. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, eastern region. Regional (VA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2007. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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. 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.

  • 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.

  • Harrison, Jason W. Personal communication. State Community Ecologist, Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Division, Department of Natural Resources, Tawes State Office Building, E-1, Annapolis, MD 21401.

  • McCoy, K. M., and G. P. Fleming. 2000. Ecological communities of U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Belvoir, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Army. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 156 pp. plus appendices.

  • Rheinhardt, R. 1992. A multivariate analysis of vegetation patterns in tidal freshwater swamps of lower Chesapeake Bay, USA. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 119:192-207.

  • Rheinhardt, R. D. 1991. Vegetation ecology of tidal freshwater swamps of the lower Chesapeake Bay, USA.

  • Tiner, R. W., Jr. 1985a. Wetlands of Delaware. Cooperative publication of USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Inventory, Newton Corner, MA, and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Dover, DE. 77 pp.

  • 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.

  • Walton, D. P., P. P. Coulling, J. Weber, A. Belden, Jr., and A. C. Chazal. 2001. A plant community classification and natural heritage inventory of the Pamunkey River floodplain. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-19. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 200 pp. plus appendices.


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