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Eleocharis fallax - Eleocharis rostellata - Schoenoplectus americanus - Sagittaria lancifolia Tidal Marsh
Translated Name: Creeping Spikerush - Beaked Spikerush - Chairmaker's Bulrush - Bull-tongue Arrowhead Tidal Marsh
Common Name: Atlantic Coast Tidal Oligohaline Spikerush Marsh
Unique Identifier: CEGL004628
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This oligohaline to freshwater tidal marsh of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina occurs on the interior of extensive marshes, well away from tidal channels or guts. It is inundated primarily by wind tides and, less commonly, lunar tides. The substrate is fibric, moderately to poorly decomposed peat. The vegetation is characterized by Eleocharis fallax, with Eleocharis rostellata a common associate. Other frequently occurring species include Galium obtusum, Hibiscus moscheutos, Hydrocotyle umbellata, Juncus canadensis, Pontederia cordata, Proserpinaca palustris, Schoenoplectus americanus, and Sagittaria lancifolia. Additional associates may include Mikania scandens, Peltandra virginica, Ptilimnium capillaceum, Ludwigia alata, Osmunda regalis, and Triadenum virginicum.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Coulling (2002) describes three vegetation types attributed to this association: (1) Eleocharis fallax - Sagittaria lancifolia - Polygonum punctatum Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation, characterized by the same setting but differentiated by the relative importance of Amaranthus cannabinus, Phyla lanceolata, and Polygonum punctatum in addition to the aforementioned characteristic species; (2) Eleocharis rostellata - Eleocharis fallax) Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation, which supports Juncus roemerianus and Polygonum punctatum at relatively high frequencies; and (3) Sagittaria lancifolia - Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis - Cladium (mariscoides, jamaicense) Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation, which is perhaps the most distinctive of the three, supporting Boehmeria cylindrica, Rosa palustris, Scirpus cyperinus, Symphyotrichum novi-belgii, Ludwigia palustris, Polygonum arifolium, Polygonum setaceum, and lacks Polygonum punctatum. Scattered, presumably stunted trees or saplings, such as Acer rubrum, Taxodium distichum, and Liquidambar styraciflua, are also present in this type. The Oligohaline Variant of Freshwater Tidal Marsh (Schafale and Weakley 1990) appears to be synonymous with this third type. All three types are regarded as variants of this association, although further analysis of data from North Carolina may support the creation of a distinct association from the third variant.

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.Ne - Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Fresh-Oligohaline Tidal Marsh
Group Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Fresh-Oligohaline Tidal Marsh
Alliance Oligohaline Wind-Tidal Marsh

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004314 Carex stricta - Peltandra virginica - Sagittaria (lancifolia ssp. media, latifolia) Tidal Marsh
CEGL006310 Cladium mariscoides - Drosera intermedia - Eleocharis rostellata Sea Level Fen



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 Atlantic Coast Tidal Oligohaline Spikerush Marsh Equivalent Certain Coxe 2009
Maryland Eleocharis (fallax, rostellata) Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011
North Carolina Tidal Freshwater Marsh (Oligohaline Low Marsh Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis (fallax, rostellata) Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Bartgis, R. 1986. Natural community descriptions. Unpublished draft. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis.
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis fallax - Eleocharis rostellata - Schoenoplectus americanus - Sagittaria lancifolia Herbaceous Vegetation
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: Eleocharis fallax - Sagittaria lancifolia - Polygonum punctatum Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: F - Finer
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.
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis fallax - Sagittaria lancifolia - Polygonum punctatum Tidally Flooded Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1998. Comparative wetlands ecology study of the Great Dismal Swamp, Northwest River, and North Landing River in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 98-9. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 181 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis rostellata - (Eleocharis fallax) Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: F - Finer
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.
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis rostellata - Eleocharis fallax - Cladium mariscoides Tidally Flooded Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1998. Comparative wetlands ecology study of the Great Dismal Swamp, Northwest River, and North Landing River in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 98-9. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 181 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis rostellata Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation
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: Sagittaria lancifolia - Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis - Cladium (mariscoides, jamaicense) Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: F - Finer
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.
Related Concept Name: Tidal Freshwater Marsh (Oligohaline Low Marsh Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Tidal Freshwater Marsh, Freshwater Variant
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
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: Tidal Freshwater Marsh, Oligohaline Variant
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: Tidal Oligohaline Marsh
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.
Related Concept Name: Wind-Tidal Oligohaline Marsh
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
CES203.259 Atlantic Coastal Plain Embayed Region Tidal Freshwater Marsh


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1G2 (01Jun2007)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This community is limited to wind-tidal and lunar-tidal oligohaline to freshwater reaches of rivers along the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Known examples are restricted to northeastern North Carolina, southeastern Virginia, and in scattered locations in Maryland. This community occurs as relatively small patches (often several acres or smaller) in a complex with other (taller) marsh vegetation. Dynamics related to fire are poorly understood. Lack of fire could be a serious threat, responsible for the current limited extent of this community and actively destroying the remaining examples that are not being burned (M. Schafale pers. comm. 2004). Rising sea level and shifts in water salinity that come with it are also threats. Sites for this type are naturally limited, but current threats are few.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: DEpotentially occurs, MD, NC, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is known from the North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland Atlantic Coast.

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 vegetation is characterized by Eleocharis fallax, with Eleocharis rostellata a common associate. Most patches are mixed and relatively diverse, but small, nearly monospecific patches of Eleocharis rostellata are frequent. Other frequently occurring species include Galium obtusum, Hibiscus moscheutos, Hydrocotyle umbellata, Juncus canadensis, Pontederia cordata, Proserpinaca palustris, Schoenoplectus americanus, and Sagittaria lancifolia. Other associates may include Carex hormathodes, Centella erecta, Cladium mariscoides, Cyperus haspan, Eriocaulon decangulare, Eryngium aquaticum, Mikania scandens, Peltandra virginica, Ptilimnium capillaceum, Ludwigia alata, Osmunda regalis, Sabatia dodecandra, and Triadenum virginicum. In Maryland examples, Distichlis spicata may also occur, while Cladium mariscus ssp. jamaicense (= Cladium jamaicense) is associated in Virginia and North Carolina. North Carolina examples may also support Zizaniopsis miliacea and Centella asiatica.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Sagittaria lancifolia G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Eleocharis fallax G1 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Eleocharis rostellata G1 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Schoenoplectus americanus G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This vegetation occurs on the interior of freshwater tidal marshes, well away from channels or tidal guts. Soils are generally fibric peats that are moderately to poorly decomposed overlying mucky peat. Hummock-and-hollow microtopography is not pronounced; substrate surface is generally flat. In the main portion of the range, in the mid-Atlantic embayed region of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, the type occurs in marshes that have been cut off from lunar tidal flooding but are still influenced by wind-driven tides up to about 1.0 m in amplitude. The Maryland and Virginia eastern shore occurrences are in lunar-tidal estuaries.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The predominant dynamic is frequent flooding by wind tides or, less commonly, lunar tides. Standing water may persist for much of the growing season. Although typically the water is fresh or oligohaline, the slower flushing of accumulated salts may increase the salinity to mesohaline conditions periodically (Coulling 2002).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming and P. Coulling
Element Description Edition Date: 01Jun2007
Element Description Author(s): J. Teague and L.A. Sneddon
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Jun2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): A.S. Weakley, mod. J. Teague and 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. 1986. Natural community descriptions. Unpublished draft. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis.

  • 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.

  • Fleming, G. P. 1998. Virginia natural community framework, version January 30, 1998. Unpublished document. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 6 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., 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 W. H. Moorhead, III. 1998. Comparative wetlands ecology study of the Great Dismal Swamp, Northwest River, and North Landing River in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 98-9. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 181 pp. plus appendices.

  • Frost, C. C., H. E. LeGrand, Jr., and R. E. Schneider. 1990. Regional inventory for critical natural areas, wetland ecosystems, and endangered species habitats of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine region: Phase 1. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, NC. 454 pp.

  • Harrison, J. W. 2001. Herbaceous tidal wetland communities of Maryland's eastern shore: Identification, assessment and monitoring. Report submitted to the U.S. EPA (Clean Water Act 1998 State Wetlands Protection Development Grant Program). Biodiversity Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Division. 30 June 2001. [U.S. EPA Reference Wetland Natural communities of Maryland's Herbaceous Tidal Wetlands Grant #CD993724].

  • 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.

  • Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 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.

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


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