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(Hydrangea arborescens) / Heuchera villosa - Asplenium trichomanes - Thalictrum clavatum / Conocephalum salebrosum Cliff Shrubland
Translated Name: (Wild Hydrangea) / Hairy Alumroot - Maidenhair Spleenwort - Mountain Meadowrue / Snakeskin Liverwort Cliff Shrubland
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Moist Siltstone Cliff
Unique Identifier: CEGL008435
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This type occurs on moist, shaded, north-facing cliffs of thin-bedded sedimentary rocks (siltstones and shales) in the Ridge and Valley and the adjacent western portion of the Blue Ridge in southwestern Virginia and Tennessee. It has sparse to moderately dense cover of vascular plants and also has substantial cover of nonvascular plants. Vascular plants root in the horizontal crevices. Most abundant vascular species in the Tennessee occurrences are Heuchera villosa var. villosa, Asplenium trichomanes ssp. trichomanes, and Thalictrum clavatum. Other vascular species present include Hydrangea arborescens, Rhododendron maximum, Laportea canadensis, Trautvetteria caroliniensis var. caroliniensis, Dryopteris intermedia, Dryopteris marginalis, Polypodium appalachianum, Asplenium montanum, and (rarely) Phegopteris connectilis and Saxifraga caroliniana. Conocephalum salebrosum (= Conocephalum conicum) is a common and conspicuous nonvascular plant.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This community is arguably also closely related to Appalachian Acidic Cliff Alliance (A2071). It seems better placed here, because of the overall floristic composition, the subcalcareous sedimentary rock substrate, the relatively continuously moist conditions, and the high cover of nonvascular plants. The description and concept of the type may require substantial revision when additional information is available. An example of this community has been documented from the Dickey Branch Preserve (The Nature Conservancy), Johnson County, Tennessee (Plot CHER.4).

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 6 - Open Rock Vegetation
Subclass 6.B - Temperate & Boreal Open Rock Vegetation
Formation 6.B.1 - Temperate & Boreal Cliff, Scree & Other Rock Vegetation
Division 6.B.1.Na - Eastern North American Temperate & Boreal Cliff, Scree & Rock Vegetation
Macrogroup Eastern North American Cliff & Rock Vegetation
Group Appalachian Cliff & Rock Vegetation
Alliance Southern & Central Appalachian Circumneutral Cliff

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



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
Alabama (Hydrangea arborescens) / Heuchera villosa - Asplenium trichomanes - Thalictrum clavatum / Conocephalum salebrosum Shrubland Equivalent Certain Schotz pers. comm.
Tennessee (Hydrangea arborescens) / Heuchera villosa - Asplenium trichomanes - Thalictrum clavatum / Conocephalum salebrosum Shrubland Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data



Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.330 Southern Appalachian Montane Cliff and Talus


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (12Jun2000)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This type appears to be naturally rare. It has few threats.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: ALpotentially occurs, GApotentially occurs, TN, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This type is known from a small area of Ridge and Valley and adjacent Blue Ridge (with sedimentary inclusions) in Virginia and Tennessee. Its potential occurrence is more widespread.

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: In Tennessee, this community has sparse to moderately dense cover of vascular plants and also has substantial cover of nonvascular plants. Vascular plants root in the horizontal crevices. Most abundant vascular species are Heuchera villosa var. villosa, Asplenium trichomanes ssp. trichomanes, and Thalictrum clavatum. Other vascular species present include Hydrangea arborescens, Rhododendron maximum, Laportea canadensis, Trautvetteria caroliniensis var. caroliniensis, Dryopteris intermedia, Dryopteris marginalis, Polypodium appalachianum, Asplenium montanum, and (rarely) Phegopteris connectilis and Saxifraga caroliniana. Conocephalum salebrosum (= Conocephalum conicum) is a common and conspicuous nonvascular plant.

The three Virginia occurrences have similar vegetation, but the full floristic composition and patterns of variation over this cliff will probably never be known due to the extreme inaccessibility of the habitat and the danger involved with inventory. At all three sites, Hydrangea arborescens, Physocarpus opulifolius var. opulifolius, Heuchera villosa var. villosa, Saxifraga caroliniana, Solidago arguta, Campanula divaricata, Dryopteris marginalis, and Sedum ternatum are important species. Other species that could be observed on one or two of the cliffs include Cystopteris bulbifera, Packera obovata, Solidago ulmifolia var. ulmifolia, Helianthus divaricatus, Carex pensylvanica, and Arabis laevigata var. laevigata. Stunted, shrub-sized trees of Acer saccharum, Fraxinus americana, and Carya glabra are also scattered in crevices, especially near the tops of the cliffs. Vegetation ranges from sparse on vertical faces to rather dense on shelves and sloping faces where veneers of soil have accumulated.


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Hydrangea arborescens G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Heuchera villosa var. villosa G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Micranthes careyana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Micranthes caroliniana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Thalictrum clavatum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Asplenium trichomanes ssp. trichomanes G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Conocephalum salebrosum G2 Liverwort/hornwort Nonvascular  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Micranthes careyana
  (Carey's Saxifrage)
G3  
Micranthes caroliniana
  (Carolina Saxifrage)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community is known from north-facing, seepy cliffs over siltstones and shales of intermediate composition, at 762-915 m (2500-3000 feet) elevation, in the Ridge and Valley and western Blue Ridge provinces. In the southwestern Virginia Ridge and Valley, three calcareous siltstone cliffs of the Juniata Formation support similar vegetation. The Virginia habitats are massive red siltstone faces ranging from about 40 to 200 m high, with occasional small ledges, cracks, and ephemeral seepage only in local areas. Aspect ranges from northeast to southeast. Elevation lies at about 1130 to 1220 m (3700-4000 feet).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This community is generally stable. Periodic rock fall occurs.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A.S. Weakley
Element Description Edition Date: 02Jan2013
Element Description Author(s): A.S. Weakley, M. Pyne and G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 12Jun2000
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
  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • Schotz, Al. Personal communication. Community Ecologist. Alabama Natural Heritage Program. Huntingdon College, Massey Hall, 1500 East Fairview Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36106-2148.

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

  • Szweykowski, J., K. Buczkowska, and I. J. Odrzykoski. 2005. Conocephalum salebrosum (Marchantiopsida, Conocephalaceae) - a new Holarctic liverwort species. Plant Systematics and Evolution 253:133-158.

  • TDNH [Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage]. No date. Unpublished data. Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.


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