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Acer (rubrum, saccharinum) - Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus americana / Boehmeria cylindrica Floodplain Forest
Translated Name: (Red Maple, Silver Maple) - Green Ash - American Elm / Small-spike False Nettle Floodplain Forest
Common Name: Northern Piedmont-Central Appalachian Maple - Ash Swamp Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006548
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This swamp forest ranges from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, south to West Virginia and Kentucky, primarily in the Lower New England / Northern Piedmont, Piedmont, and Central Appalachian ecoregions. It occupies poorly drained backswamps, sloughs, abandoned oxbows, and depressions of large-stream and river floodplains. Soils are flooded at least early in the growing season, and water may be ponded in shallow hollows for most of the year. The overstory is dominated by variable combinations of Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Acer rubrum, and Acer saccharinum, with Ulmus americana as a common overstory and understory associate. In Virginia and Maryland, Acer saccharinum is most characteristic of large-river (e.g., the James and Potomac) floodplains, where Acer rubrum is nearly absent. On the smaller order streams that support this type, Acer saccharinum is usually absent. In central Kentucky, Platanus occidentalis may also be a canopy component. The shrub layer is typically very sparse or absent, but Cephalanthus occidentalis may be a component of this stratum. Vines, especially Toxicodendron radicans, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and Vitis spp., are common. The herb layer is usually moderately dense or dense except in deeper hollows. Boehmeria cylindrica, Impatiens capensis, Cinna arundinacea, Geum canadense, Glyceria striata, Leersia virginica, Polygonum arifolium, Polygonum punctatum, Pilea pumila, Lobelia cardinalis, Saururus cernuus, Commelina virginica, Carex stipata, Carex grayi, Carex tribuloides, Carex crinita, and Carex lupulina are characteristic species. In the northern part of the range, examples may contain patches of Symplocarpus foetidus.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Classification of this associated is supported by analysis of a 1250-plot regional dataset assembled for the NCR vegetation mapping project. In that analysis, this association is represented by 11 Maryland and Virginia plots, which consistently separate from similar swamp forests of the region [see Similar Associations and Dynamics]. However, this type of swamp vegetation is undersampled in the Northeast, and additional plot data would be very useful in making association circumscriptions and descriptions more robust.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.3 - Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Division 1.B.3.Na - Eastern North American-Great Plains Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Laurentian-Acadian-North Atlantic Coastal Flooded & Swamp Forest
Group Laurentian-Acadian-Appalachian Acidic Swamp
Alliance Northeastern Red Maple - Green Ash Swamp Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL005038 Acer (rubrum, saccharinum) - Fraxinus spp. - Ulmus americana Swamp Forest
CEGL006497 Quercus palustris - Quercus bicolor / Carex tribuloides - Carex radiata - (Carex squarrosa) Wet Forest
CEGL006606 Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Saururus cernuus Swamp Forest



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
Kentucky Wet Bottomland Hardwood Forest Broader   Evans 1991
Pennsylvania Red Maple - Elm - Willow Floodplain Forest Equivalent   Fike 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acer (rubrum, saccharinum) - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Boehmeria cylindrica - Saururus cernuus Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Lea, C. 2004. Draft vegetation types in National Capital Region Parks. Edited by S.C. Gawler and J. Teague. Working draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. July 2004. 157 pp.
Related Concept Name: Coastal Plain - Piedmont Bottomland 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: Piedmont / Mountain Swamp Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fleming, Gary P. Personal communication. Ecologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.
Related Concept Name: Red Maple - Elm - Willow Floodplain Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.608 Central Appalachian River Floodplain


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (08Jan2007)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: DC, KY, MD, NJ, PA, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community ranges from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, south to West Virginia and Kentucky, primarily in the Lower New England / Northern Piedmont, Piedmont, and Central Appalachian ecoregions.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Hudson Valley Section
Section Code: 221B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Continental) Province
Province Code: 222 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Interior Low Plateau, Shawnee Hills Section
Section Code: 222D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 231 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 231A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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
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: Overstory composition is somewhat limited, with Fraxinus pennsylvanica usually codominant with Acer rubrum, Acer saccharinum, or both. Occasional stands vary toward near-monospecific dominance by one of these three species. In Virginia and Maryland, Acer saccharinum is most characteristic of large-river (e.g., the James and Potomac) floodplains, where Acer rubrum is nearly absent. On the smaller order streams that support this type, Acer saccharinum is usually absent. Ulmus americana is a constant minor overstory associate and usually dominates the subcanopy layers when these are developed. Occasional overstory and understory associates include Acer negundo, Betula nigra, Platanus occidentalis, Quercus bicolor, and Quercus palustris. The shrub layer is typically very sparse or absent but may include tree saplings of Carpinus caroliniana as well as Cephalanthus occidentalis, Cornus amomum, and Lindera benzoin. Vines, especially Toxicodendron radicans, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and Vitis spp., are common. The herb layer is usually moderately dense or dense except in deeper hollows. Boehmeria cylindrica is the most constant herb in 11 Maryland and Virginia plots, averaging 5 to 10% cover. Saururus cernuus and Impatiens capensis are less constant (55% of plots) but may be high-cover patch-dominants where they occur. Other characteristic and occasionally abundant herbs include Cinna arundinacea, Geum canadense, Glyceria striata, Leersia virginica, Polygonum arifolium, Polygonum punctatum, Pilea pumila, Lobelia cardinalis, Ludwigia palustris, Commelina virginica, Carex stipata, Carex grayi, Carex tribuloides, Carex crinita, and Carex lupulina. In the northern part of the range, examples may contain patches of Symplocarpus foetidus. The invasive exotic Lysimachia nummularia is problematic in many stands. At Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky), the canopy is dominated by Fraxinus pennsylvanica, with Acer rubrum and Platanus occidentalis also common. The shrub zone is sparse with Cephalanthus occidentalis dominant; the understory is mostly open. The herb layer is dominated by Saururus cernuus. Other common herbs include Carex grayi, Chasmanthium latifolium, Leersia virginica, Ludwigia palustris, and Sagittaria latifolia.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer rubrum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Acer saccharinum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Boehmeria cylindrica G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lysimachia nummularia G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs in poorly drained backswamps, sloughs, abandoned oxbows, and depressions of large-stream and river floodplains. Soils are flooded at least early in the growing season, and water may be ponded in shallow hollows for most of the year. Soils collected from plot-sampling sites are sticky clay or silty-clay loams with gleyed or mottled upper horizons. Chemical analysis indicates moderate acidity (mean pH = 5.1) and moderately high calcium, magnesium, and total base saturation levels. At Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky), this association is found in a poorly drained backswamp forest which lies just behind the natural levee of the Nolin River. The vegetation is likely influenced by flooding and by upper stream drainage into this small basin wetland (B. Yahn pers. comm. 2015).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The habitat occupied by this association limits floristic composition to species with high tolerances for relatively deep and prolonged inundation. The relationship between this type and similar types dominated by oaks (e.g., Quercus palustris - Quercus bicolor / Carex tribuloides - Carex radiata - (Carex squarrosa) Wet Forest (CEGL006497)) is complex and not fully understood. Field observations (VDNH unpubl. data) of mean flooding depths in various communities suggest that some stands of this type occupy habitats that are too deeply flooded to support hydrophytic oaks. The clearest support for this hypothesis is found in large floodplains that support both types of swamp along an apparent hydrologic gradient. At other sites, especially on smaller streams, it appears that these communities may have a successional relationship in which cut-over or formerly cleared stands of oak-dominated swamp forest have regenerated in stands dominated by Fraxinus pennsylvanica and Acer rubrum.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Eastern Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 26Jan2015
Element Description Author(s): E. Largay, G.P. Fleming and M. Pyne

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.

  • 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.

  • 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., 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. 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, Gary P. Personal communication. Ecologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.

  • 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.

  • Lea, C. 2004. Draft vegetation types in National Capital Region Parks. Edited by S.C. Gawler and J. Teague. Working draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. July 2004. 157 pp.

  • Yahn, Brian. Personal communication. Ecologist, Kentucky State Nature Preserve Commission, Frankfort.

  • Zimmerman, E. A. 2011g. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. Red Maple - Elm - Willow Floodplain Forest Factsheet. [http://www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us/Community.aspx?=16021] (accessed January 31, 2012)

  • Zimmerman, E. A., T. Davis, M. A. Furedi, B. Eichelberger, J. McPherson, S. Seymour, G. Podniesinski, N. Dewar, and J. Wagner, editors. 2012. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Harrisburg. [http://www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us/Communities.aspx]


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