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Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Vaccinium pallidum - (Rhododendron periclymenoides) Forest
Translated Name: Chestnut Oak - Northern Red Oak / Blue Ridge Blueberry - (Pink Azalea) Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian Dry Chestnut Oak - Northern Red Oak / Heath Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL008523
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community is documented primarily from the northern Blue Ridge and its eastern foothills, from Amherst County in west-central Virginia to the Catoctin Mountains of northern Maryland, and extending into northeastern West Virginia. It is likely to be more widespread, but certain topographic and/or soil conditions on the northern Blue Ridge may favor its development and abundance there. This community occupies sites intermediate between the xeric, oligotrophic sites of chestnut oak/heath forests and the somewhat sheltered, submesic, subacidic sites of other montane mixed oak and oak-hickory forests. It occurs on chiefly convex, moderately steep middle to upper slopes, ridge crests, and boulderfields with southeastern to northwestern exposures. Soils are subxeric or xeric and strongly infertile. Many sites have high cover of boulders, cobbles, gravel, or mineral soil. Underlying bedrock includes massive quartzite of the Chilhowee group, various members of the northern Blue Ridge gneissic granitic complex, and less frequently metabasalt of the Catoctin Formation. This type spans a very broad range of elevations, from <300 m to nearly 1100 m (<1000-3600 feet). Quercus prinus and Quercus rubra generally codominate the overstory, but either species may dominate discrete areas within stands. Minor canopy associates include Quercus velutina, Quercus alba, Betula lenta, Carya spp., Robinia pseudoacacia, and Pinus strobus. Acer rubrum cover may equal or exceed that of the diagnostic oak species in stands with recent harvesting. The shrub layer is dominated by patchy Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium stamineum, Rhododendron periclymenoides, and Kalmia latifolia. Acer pensylvanicum and Smilax rotundifolia may be present in minor amounts. A suite of low-cover, xerophytic herbs is characteristic, including Houstonia longifolia, Campanula divaricata, Potentilla canadensis, Lysimachia quadrifolia, Carex pensylvanica, Aureolaria laevigata, and Hieracium paniculatum.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Analysis of 28 plots from Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia provided the basis for this type's current circumscription. This community type bears some similarity to a number of units in the USNVC. Quercus alba - Quercus (rubra, prinus) / Rhododendron calendulaceum - (Gaylussacia ursina) Forest (CEGL007230) is a broadly defined association from the Southern Blue Ridge. It differs from the present community type in the presence of several Southern Appalachian endemics (Gaylussacia ursina, Halesia tetraptera, Magnolia fraseri) whose range does not extend to the Northern Blue Ridge and by the general absence (except for Lysimachia quadrifolia) of the xerophytic herbs characteristic of this type. Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Hamamelis virginiana Forest (CEGL006057) is common in the Central Appalachians, possibly ranging north to New Jersey. This association represents mixed oak / sparse heath vegetation on very rocky, somewhat sheltered sites. Acer pensylvanicum, Hamamelis virginiana, and Carya spp., which are characteristic of CEGL006057, are relatively unimportant in stands of the present type. Quercus prinus - Quercus (rubra, velutina) / Vaccinium (angustifolium, pallidum) Forest (CEGL006282), which ranges from Maine to Virginia, is characterized by a low, speciose ericaceous layer and lacks the herbaceous species diagnostic of this community type.

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 Appalachian Oak / Chestnut Forest
Alliance Mesic Chestnut Oak - Northern Red Oak Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006057 Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Hamamelis virginiana Forest
CEGL006282 Quercus prinus - Quercus (rubra, velutina) / Vaccinium (angustifolium, pallidum) Forest
CEGL006299 Quercus prinus - (Quercus coccinea, Quercus rubra) / Kalmia latifolia / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL006474 Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (prinus, alba) Forest
CEGL007230 Quercus alba - Quercus (rubra, prinus) / Rhododendron calendulaceum - (Gaylussacia ursina) Forest
CEGL008514 Quercus rubra - Quercus prinus - Carya ovalis / (Cercis canadensis) / Solidago caesia Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Quercus montana - Quercus rubra / Vaccinium pallidum - (Rhododendron periclymenoides) 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: Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Vaccinium pallidum - (Rhododendron periclymenoides) Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Vanderhorst, J., and B. P. Streets. 2006. Vegetation classification and mapping of Camp Dawson Army Training Site, West Virginia: Second approximation. Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 83 pp.
Related Concept Name: Quercus rubra - (Quercus prinus, Quercus velutina) / Rhododendron periclymenoides / Lysimachia quadrifolia - Hieracium paniculatum Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
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: Quercus velutina - Quercus montana - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron periclymenoides / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Coulling, P. P., and T. J. Rawinski. 1999. Classification of vegetation and ecological land units of the Piney River and Mt. Pleasant area, Pedlar Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-03, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
Related Concept Name: Chestnut Oak: 44
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.
Related Concept Name: Mixed Oak - Heath Forest
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: Oak / Heath Forest
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.
Related Concept Name: Sub-xeric oak forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Vanderhorst, J. 2001a. Plant community classification and mapping of the Camp Dawson Collective Training Area, Preston County, West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 101 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.591 Central Appalachian Dry Oak-Pine Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (02Oct2006)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: The type occupies a fairly narrow geographic range on the northern Blue Ridge but is locally common within the range. Many occurrences are protected on national park lands. In West Virginia, it is documented from Camp Dawson in Preston County, and from Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Sites with similar exposure and parent material occur on local peaks of Shenandoah National Park, the Peaks of Otter region, and the northern terminus of the Southern Blue Ridge near Roanoke, at the southern limit of the distribution of charnockitic bedrock.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is documented only from the northern Blue Ridge and its eastern foothills, from Amherst County in west-central Virginia to the Catoctin Mountains of northern Maryland, and Preston, Mineral, and Randolph counties in West Virginia. Within this range, it is widely distributed and frequently a large-patch type. It is likely to be more widespread, but certain topographic and/or soil conditions on the northern Blue Ridge may favor its development there. The absence of either broad southern Appalachian endemics or species with more northern affinities distinguishes this type from more southern and northern vegetation types.

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: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Allegheny Mountains Section
Section Code: M221B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Quercus prinus and Quercus rubra generally codominate the overstory, but either species may dominate discrete areas within stands. Acer rubrum cover may equal or exceed that of the diagnostic oak species in stands with recent harvesting. Minor canopy associates include Quercus velutina, Betula lenta, Carya spp., Robinia pseudoacacia, Quercus alba, and Pinus strobus. Acer rubrum is the most constant and abundant species of the subcanopy, which also contains Sassafras albidum, Prunus serotina, Nyssa sylvatica, and Acer pensylvanicum (mostly at higher elevations). Patchy dominance by Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium stamineum, Rhododendron periclymenoides, and Kalmia latifolia characterizes the shrub layer. Acer pensylvanicum and Smilax rotundifolia may be present in minor amounts. A number of low-cover, xerophytic herbs are characteristic where soil development and rock cover permit, including Houstonia longifolia, Campanula divaricata, Potentilla canadensis, Lysimachia quadrifolia, Carex pensylvanica, Aureolaria laevigata, and Hieracium paniculatum. Medeola virginiana and Monotropa uniflora may also be present. Aralia nudicaulis is occasionally a patch-dominant on dry, bouldery sites. On other sites with better soil development, Dennstaedtia punctilobula nearly dominates the herb stratum. Mean species richness of 28 plots is 40 taxa per 400 square meters, much higher than that of other oak/heath types in the Central Appalachians region.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Quercus prinus G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus rubra G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Tsuga caroliniana G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Acer rubrum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Castanea dentata G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rhododendron periclymenoides G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Kalmia latifolia G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling      
 
 
Vaccinium pallidum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Vaccinium stamineum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Aureolaria laevigata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hieracium paniculatum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lysimachia quadrifolia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex virescens G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Tsuga caroliniana
  (Carolina Hemlock)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community type occurs on chiefly convex, moderately steep middle to upper slopes, ridge crests, and boulderfields with southeastern to northwestern exposures. Soils are subxeric or xeric and strongly infertile. Many sites have high cover of boulders, cobbles, gravel, or mineral soil. Underlying bedrock includes massive quartzite of the Chilhowee group, various members of the northern Blue Ridge gneissic granitic complex, and less frequently metabasalt of the Catoctin Formation. This type spans a very broad range of elevations, from <300 m to nearly 1100 m (<1000-3600 feet). Although Quercus prinus generally occurs at elevations below 915 m (3000 feet) in the northern Blue Ridge of Virginia (Harrison et al. 1989, Stephenson and Adams 1989), it often extends upslope on more xeric sites (e.g., Whittaker 1956). Virtually all stands have experienced a history of logging and the loss of Castanea dentata as an overstory dominant.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Castanea dentata abounds in the shrub layer of some stands, which undoubtedly reflects the former importance of this species in the canopy. Both Acer rubrum and Robinia pseudoacacia may have increased following logging; the presence of the latter suggests disturbance in recent decades, and the persistence of the former may indicate contemporary fire exclusion.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson and G.P. Fleming, mod. G.P. Fleming and P. Coulling
Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2006
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming, P.P. Coulling, S.C. Gawler
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 21Sep2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G.P. Fleming and P.P. Coulling, mod. G.P. Fleming and S.C. Gawler

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


References
  • Abrams, M. D. 1992. Fire and the development of oak forests. BioScience 42(5):346-353.

  • Coulling, P. P., and T. J. Rawinski. 1999. Classification of vegetation and ecological land units of the Piney River and Mt. Pleasant area, Pedlar Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-03, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2002a. Ecological communities of the Bull Run Mountains, Virginia: Baseline vegetation and floristic data for conservation planning and natural area stewardship. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-12. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 274 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2002b. Preliminary classification of Piedmont & Inner Coastal Plain vegetation types in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-14. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 29 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. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • 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. 2003. Preliminary vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Harrison, E. A., B. M. McIntyre, and R. D. Dueser. 1989. Community dynamics and topographic controls on forest pattern in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 116:1-14.

  • 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.

  • Newell, C. L. 1997. Local and regional variation in the vegetation of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1008 pp.

  • Stephenson, S. L., and H. S. Adams. 1989. The high-elevation red oak (Quercus rubra) community type in western Virginia. Castanea 54:217-229.

  • Vanderhorst, J. 2001a. Plant community classification and mapping of the Camp Dawson Collective Training Area, Preston County, West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 101 pp.

  • Vanderhorst, J., and B. P. Streets. 2006. Vegetation classification and mapping of Camp Dawson Army Training Site, West Virginia: Second approximation. Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins. 83 pp.

  • Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs 26:1-80.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, W. Cass, and C. Lea. 2009. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients, Version 2.0. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2009/142. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.


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