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Pinus rigida - Quercus ilicifolia / Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Scrub
Translated Name: Pitch Pine - Bear Oak / Bearberry Scrub
Common Name: Northern Dwarf Pine Plains
Unique Identifier: CEGL006097
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This dwarf pine plains community of Long Island, New York, is characterized by a canopy codominated by dwarfed pitch pine and scrub oak ranging in height from 1.2-2.4 m. The community occurs on coarse, xeric infertile sands of a nearly level outwash plain. The community is depauperate in vascular plants, with most of the biomass composed of Pinus rigida, Quercus ilicifolia, Gaylussacia baccata, Vaccinium pallidum, Hudsonia ericoides, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, and Gaultheria procumbens. Lichens make up a substantial portion of the ground layer and include Cetraria arenaria, Cladonia arbuscula ssp. mitis, Cladonia submitis, Cladonia stellaris, Cladonia cristatella, Punctelia rudecta, Parmelia saxatilis, and Peltigera canina. Sandy openings often support Hudsonia ericoides, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Gaultheria procumbens, as well as forbs such as Ionactis linariifolius, Polygonella articulata, and Hypericum gentianoides. This community is the favored nesting habitat for the prairie warbler and brown thrasher, and is prime habitat for the pine barrens buck moth.


Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: This community grades into a more common coastal pitch pine-oak heath woodland but is less diverse in its vascular plant species. It is distinguished primarily by the height of the canopy pines which are usually only 1.2-2.4 m tall. In this community and other "dwarf pine" types it is the unique physiognomy of the community that is responsible for the high global rank rather than its floristic composition.

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 Pitch Pine Barrens
Alliance Dwarf Pitch Pine Plains

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006148 Pinus rigida - Quercus marilandica / Corema conradii Scrub

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:
Information from programs in other jurisdictions will be posted when they are made available.
Subnation Concept Name Relationship to Standard Confidence Reference
New York Dwarf pine plains Equivalent   Edinger et al. 2002

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.269 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Pitch Pine Barrens

NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1Q (07Dec1998)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This community was ranked G1 originally, based on a single occurrence of nearly 2500 acres on Long Island, New York. There is taxonomic overlap with other pine barrens associations, and this association as defined likely occurs on Cape Cod and Nantucket, Massachusetts. However, even given these issues, the community will still likely emerge as a rarity even if the range of the current type includes occurrences in Massachusetts, or if it is lumped with another related pine barrens type. Pine barrens in general are rare and threatened throughout their range.

Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NY
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This dwarf pine plains community is found on eastern Long Island, New York.

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


Vegetation Summary: The canopy consists of dwarfed Pinus rigida and Quercus ilicifolia, generally from 1.2-2.4 m tall. In places it may form a dense thicket. The majority of the biomass in the community is made up of these two species plus five others: Gaylussacia baccata, Vaccinium pallidum, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Hudsonia ericoides, and Gaultheria procumbens. The ground cover under the pines and oaks includes many foliose and fruticose lichens such as Cetraria arenaria, Cladonia arbuscula ssp. mitis (= Cladina mitis), Cladonia cristatella, Punctelia rudecta (= Parmelia rudecta), Parmelia saxatilis, and Peltigera canina. The lichen flora is probably more diverse than the vascular flora. Sandy openings in the shrub thicket characteristically contain a few herbs such as Polygonella articulata, Ionactis linariifolius, and Hypericum gentianoides.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Quercus ilicifolia G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling  
Pinus rigida G1 Needle-leaved tree Tall shrub/sapling  
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi G1 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling  
Gaultheria procumbens G1 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
Gaylussacia baccata G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
Vaccinium pallidum G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
Hudsonia ericoides G1 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling  
Cladonia arbuscula ssp. mitis G1 Lichen Nonvascular    
Cladonia cristatella G1 Lichen Nonvascular    

Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs on nearly level outwash sand and gravel plains. The soils are infertile, coarse-textured sands that are excessively well-drained.

Dynamic Processes

Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank

Concept Author(s): Eastern Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 07Dec1998
Element Description Author(s): Eastern Ecology Group
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 07Dec1998

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

  • 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.

  • Grossman, D. H., K. Lemon Goodin, and C. L. Reuss, editors. 1994. Rare plant communities of the conterminous United States: An initial survey. The Nature Conservancy. Arlington, VA. 620 pp.

  • Olsvig, L. S. 1980. A comparative study of northeastern Pine Barrens vegetation. Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 479 pp.

  • Reschke, C. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Latham, NY. 96 pp.

  • Windisch, A. G. 1994. Preliminary wildfire history for the Long Island central pine barrens. Report to Long Island Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

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Data last updated: March 2019