NatureServe Explorer logo.An Online Encyclopedia of Life
Search
Ecological Association Comprehensive Report: Record 1 of 1 selected.
See All Search Results    View Glossary
<< Previous | Next >>

Tsuga canadensis - Quercus montana - Betula lenta Forest
Translated Name: Eastern Hemlock - Chestnut Oak - Sweet Birch Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian Hemlock - Chestnut Oak Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006923
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is a hemlock - chestnut oak forest which often occurs on steep northeastern to northwestern exposures. It ranges from the New Jersey Highlands south to the Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley, Allegheny Mountains, Western Allegheny Plateau, and Piedmont provinces of Maryland and West Virginia. Stands occur at elevations from 150 m to about 920 m (500-3010 feet) on moderately to very steep, sheltered slopes. Northerly aspects and middle slope positions prevail among documented examples. Some sites are "boulderfields" with up to 60% cover by large rocks. Geologic substrate is variable. Soils are usually very stony to extremely stony sandy loams, consistently oligotrophic, with very low pH and base status. Stands of this association are typically floristically depauperate and generally dominated by variable combinations of Quercus montana and Tsuga canadensis. Betula lenta and, less commonly, Quercus velutina, Quercus coccinea, and Quercus rubra are major overstory associates, each attaining codominance in a subset of stands. Quercus alba, Acer rubrum, Liriodendron tulipifera, Pinus strobus, Sassafras albidum, and Fagus grandifolia are minor overstory associates. Small trees and shrubs can be absent or sparse due to dense shading by hemlock, with Hamamelis virginiana most consistently providing moderate cover. Less frequently, Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron maximum, and Viburnum acerifolium are shrub components. At some New Jersey sites, a single dense stratum or multiple open strata of ericaceous species can develop, including Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia, Gaylussacia baccata, and Vaccinium pallidum. The herb layer of this community is typically very sparse or absent; typical scattered species include Maianthemum canadense, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Chimaphila maculata, Deschampsia flexuosa, Carex swanii, and Aralia nudicaulis.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Because of devastation by hemlock woolly adelgid, understory hemlock is often all that's left in this community in Virginia. The original description was based on A. Windisch's (1993) Picatinny Arsenal Hemlock-Mixed Oak-(Heath) Cool Sub-Mesic forest description (TcQf). An expanded circumscription is based on analysis of data from 20 Maryland and Virginia plots, data from Delaware Water Gap, and 12 West Virginia plots. Analysis of more than 1300 montane Virginia plots indicated that the two Virginia plots originally assigned to this type in the National Capital Region analysis are cove plots that are better classified as Liriodendron tulipifera - Quercus montana - (Tsuga canadensis) / Kalmia latifolia - (Rhododendron catawbiense) Forest (CEGL008512) (Fleming and Patterson 2009b).

In West Virginia, this association was first applied to plots at Bluestone National Scenic River (Vanderhorst et al. 2008), then to additional plots from the Ridge and Valley and Western Allegheny Plateau. It is distinguished from other hemlock-hardwood forests in the state by having Quercus montana codominant in the canopy and its occurrence on dry sites.


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-Interior-Northeastern Mesic Forest
Group Appalachian-Central Interior Mesic Forest
Alliance Southern Hemlock - Tuliptree Forest

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
New York Hemlock-northern hardwood forest Broader   Edinger et al. 2002
West Virginia Tsuga canadensis - Quercus prinus / Vaccinium pallidum / Gaultheria procumbens Forest Equivalent Certain WVNHP unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis - Quercus prinus / Vaccinium pallidum / Gaultheria procumbens Forest [Hemlock - Chestnut Oak Forest]
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Vanderhorst, J. 2017c. Wild vegetation of West Virginia: Upland hemlock hardwood forests. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program. [http://wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/Factsheets/Hemlock.shtm]
Related Concept Name: Picatinny Arsenal Hemlock-Mixed Oak-(Heath) Cool Sub-Mesic forest description (TcQf)
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Windisch, A. G. 1993. Natural community inventory of Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. Unpublished report prepared for Picatinny Arsenal, U.S. Department of Defense. The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Heritage Task Force, Trenton, NJ.

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: G3 (04Oct2006)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: While this association does not appear to be intrinsically rare, it occurs in small patches in very specific habitats, and its viability is critically threatened by the spread of hemlock woolly adelgid.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, NJ, NY, PA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association ranges from the New Jersey Highlands south to the Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley, Allegheny Mountains, Western Allegheny Plateau, and Piedmont provinces of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and West Virginia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Warm Continental Division
Province Name: Laurentian Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 212 Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Northern Glaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 212F Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lower New England Section
Section Code: 221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Hudson Valley Section
Section Code: 221B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Allegheny Mountains Section
Section Code: M221B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This association is a hemlock - mixed oak forest dominated by Tsuga canadensis in association with species of Quercus and other deciduous trees indicative of relatively dry, infertile soils. Stands are typically floristically depauperate and generally dominated by variable combinations of Quercus montana (= Quercus prinus) and Tsuga canadensis. Betula lenta and, less commonly, Quercus velutina, Quercus coccinea, Quercus alba, and Quercus rubra are major overstory associates, each attaining codominance in a subset of stands. Acer rubrum, Liriodendron tulipifera, Pinus strobus, Sassafras albidum, and Fagus grandifolia are very minor overstory associates. Oxydendrum arboreum and Acer saccharum, along with overstory species, may be present in the subcanopy. Small trees and shrubs are often absent or sparse due to dense shading by hemlock, with Hamamelis virginiana most consistently providing moderate cover. Less frequently, Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron maximum, Vaccinium pallidum, Amelanchier arborea, and Viburnum acerifolium are shrub components. At some New Jersey sites, a single dense stratum or multiple open strata of ericaceous species can develop, including Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia, Gaylussacia baccata, and Vaccinium pallidum. The herb layer of this community is typically very sparse or absent with scattered individuals of a few species; typical species vary somewhat with geography and include Maianthemum canadense, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Dioscorea quaternata, Chimaphila maculata, Deschampsia flexuosa, Dryopteris marginalis, Carex swanii, Eurybia divaricata, Goodyera pubescens, Gaultheria procumbens, Mitchella repens, Monotropa hypopitys, Monotropa uniflora, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and Aralia nudicaulis. In nine West Virginia plots from Bluestone National Scenic River, vascular plant richness ranged from 16 to 43 (mean = 26.5) species per 400-m2 plot.

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 & subcanopy)  
 
 
Tsuga canadensis G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree (canopy & subcanopy)  
 
 
Betula lenta G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Hamamelis virginiana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Kalmia latifolia G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling      
 
 
Rhododendron maximum G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Chimaphila maculata G3 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Gaylussacia baccata G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Vaccinium pallidum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Maianthemum canadense G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: Stands occur at elevations from 150 m to about 920 m (500-3010 feet) on moderately to very steep, sheltered slopes. Northern to northwestern aspects and middle slope positions prevail among documented examples. Some sites are "boulderfields" with up to 60% cover by large rocks; some appear above or below cliff bands. Geologic substrate is variable but includes shales and sandstone. Soils are usually very stony to extremely stony sandy loams, consistently oligotrophic, with very low pH and base status. Soils in eight West Virginia plots in the environs of Bluestone National Scenic River are described as dry to somewhat moist, well-drained, stone-free to very stony sandy loam, silt loam, sandy silt loam, and sandy clay loam; they tested extremely to medium acidic (mean pH = 4.4) with relatively high levels of organic matter, estimated N release, S, Al, B, and Fe and relatively low levels of Ca, Cu, K, Mg, Mn, P, and Zn compared to average values in the area.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Extensive hemlock mortality caused by hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is changing the composition of many of these forests. Most Maryland stands are now in a degraded condition, and some have suffered virtually complete hemlock mortality. In Bluestone National Scenic River (WV), many hemlocks appear stressed, but large scale mortality was not observed during the 2003-2006 vegetation surveys.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A.G. Windisch (1993)
Element Description Edition Date: 20Dec2018
Element Description Author(s): A. Windisch, S.C. Gawler, G.P. Fleming, J. Vanderhorst
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 04Oct2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): S.C. Gawler and G.P. Fleming

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


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

  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2014a. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation, Bureau of Forestry, Harrisburg, PA. 86 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.

  • Perez, John. Personal communication. Biologist, USDI National Park Service, Glen Jean, WV.

  • Perles, S. J., G. S. Podniesinski, E. A. Zimmerman, E. Eastman, and L. A. Sneddon. 2006d. Vegetation classification and mapping at Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2006/079. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.

  • Perles, S. J., G. S. Podniesinski, E. Eastman, L. A. Sneddon, and S. C. Gawler. 2007. Classification and mapping of vegetation and fire fuel models at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2007/076. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 2 volumes.

  • Sechler, F. C., G. J. Edinger, T. G. Howard, J. J. Schmid, E. Eastman, E. Largay, L. A. Sneddon, C. Lea, and J. Von Loh. 2014. Vegetation classification and mapping at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, New York. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NETN/NRTR--2014/873, National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 392 pp.

  • Vanderhorst, J. 2017c. Wild vegetation of West Virginia: Upland hemlock hardwood forests. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program. [http://wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/Factsheets/Hemlock.shtm]

  • Vanderhorst, J. P., B. P. Streets, J. Jeuck, and S. C. Gawler. 2008. Vegetation classification and mapping of Bluestone National Scenic River, West Virginia. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2008/106. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.

  • WVNHP [West Virginia Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Elkins.

  • Windisch, A. G. 1993. Natural community inventory of Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. Unpublished report prepared for Picatinny Arsenal, U.S. Department of Defense. The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Heritage Task Force, Trenton, NJ.


Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2019 NatureServe, 2511 Richmond (Jefferson Davis) Highway, Suite 930, Arlington, VA 22202, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.

Copyright 2019
NatureServe
Version 7.1 (2 February 2009)
Data last updated: March 2019