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Thuja occidentalis / Abies balsamea - Acer spicatum Forest
Translated Name: Northern White-cedar / Balsam Fir - Mountain Maple Forest
Common Name: Northern White-cedar Mesic Upland Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL002449
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This subboreal upland white-cedar forest occurs in the United States in northeastern Minnesota and in the eastern boreal regions of Canada. Stands are found on gentle moist slopes to very steep well-drained slopes. Soils are fine to moderately coarse-textured, usually calcareous, moderately deep to deep (50-100 cm), and often contain boulders at the surface. The overstory is dominated by coniferous trees, with or without a substantial deciduous component. Thuja occidentalis is the most abundant tree and may occur in pure stands. Other canopy species include Abies balsamea, Acer rubrum, Betula papyrifera, Picea glauca, Picea mariana, Populus tremuloides, and Pinus strobus. There is usually an abundant shrub/sapling layer with saplings of Thuja occidentalis and Abies balsamea along with Acer pensylvanicum and the shrubs Acer spicatum, Corylus cornuta, Linnaea borealis, Lonicera canadensis, Rubus pubescens, and Sorbus decora. Vaccinium angustifolium and Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides may be present on more acidic sites. The ground layer is typically diverse on mesic to wet-mesic stands and less so on drier stands. Typical species include Aralia nudicaulis, Eurybia macrophylla, Clintonia borealis, Coptis trifolia, Cornus canadensis, Dryopteris carthusiana, Galium triflorum, Gymnocarpium dryopteris, Maianthemum canadense, Mitella nuda, Streptopus lanceolatus, Trillium undulatum, and Trientalis borealis. Mosses include Sanionia uncinata, Hylocomium splendens, Plagiomnium cuspidatum, Pleurozium schreberi, Ptilium crista-castrensis, and Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus.



Classification

Classification Confidence: High
Classification Comments: This type (CEGL002449) occasionally has a wet-mesic phase that can be difficult to distinguish from cedar swamps, such as Thuja occidentalis - Fraxinus nigra Swamp Forest (CEGL005165) or Thuja occidentalis - (Picea mariana, Abies balsamea) / Alnus incana Swamp Forest (CEGL002456). The concept, as originally proposed, intends this to be an upland type, but application of the concept has tended to stretch it too far into the wetland, partly because the sources for the concept did so as well. Sims et al. (1989, 1997) describe V21, a white-cedar / mountain maple type, as a diverse type that spans wet, organic lowlands to rich, fresh uplands. Faber-Langendoen et al. (2007) took a similar approach, causing some confusion as to whether this was a wetland or upland type. Harris et al. (1996) consider their W32, a rich white-cedar swamp, to be equivalent to V21, but they also show W32 to be the driest wetland type [see their Figures 8 and 9]. We suggest that the wet organic sites should be placed in white-cedar wet forest (e.g., CEGL005165) or swamp (CEGL2456), rather than this type. Thus, as described here, our type is only partly equivalent in concept to V21 of Sims et al. (1989), but appears equivalent to V21 of Chambers et al. (1997). In Wisconsin, stands of this type could occur near the Great Lakes shore, but preferably go with either Thuja occidentalis - Betula alleghaniensis Forest (CEGL002450) or Thuja occidentalis - (Betula alleghaniensis, Tsuga canadensis) Forest (CEGL002595). Stands in the eastern U.S. should be removed from this type, as this type includes only subboreal conifer and hardwood species. This type is differentiated from Thuja occidentalis - Betula alleghaniensis Forest (CEGL002450), a northern hardwood type, based on the presence of northern hardwood species, especially Betula alleghaniensis.

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 Laurentian-Acadian Mesic Hardwood - Conifer Forest
Group Laurentian Subboreal Mesic Balsam Fir - Spruce - Hardwood Forest
Alliance Subboreal Northern White-cedar - Balsam Fir Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL002450 Thuja occidentalis - Betula alleghaniensis Forest
CEGL002456 Thuja occidentalis - (Picea mariana, Abies balsamea) / Alnus incana Swamp Forest
CEGL002595 Thuja occidentalis - (Betula alleghaniensis, Tsuga canadensis) Forest
CEGL005165 Thuja occidentalis - Fraxinus nigra 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
Minnesota Upland White Cedar Forest Type Finer   MNNHP 2005


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Thuja occidentalis / Abies balsamea - Acer spicatum Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Faber-Langendoen, D., editor. 2001. Plant communities of the Midwest: Classification in an ecological context. Association for Biodiversity Information, Arlington, VA. 61 pp. plus appendix (705 pp.).
Related Concept Name: White Cedar Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Grigal, D. F., and L. F. Ohmann. 1975. Classification, description, and dynamics of upland plant communities within a Minnesota wilderness area. Ecological Monographs 45:389-407.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES201.564 Laurentian-Acadian Northern Hardwood Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (03Oct1996)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MN
Canadian Province Distribution: ON, QCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: This sub-boreal upland white-cedar forest type occurs in northeastern Minnesota and southern boreal regions of eastern Canada.

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: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Great Lakes Section
Section Code: 212H Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lake Superior Section
Section Code: 212I Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Superior Uplands Section
Section Code: 212J Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Northern Superior Uplands Section
Section Code: 212L Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Minnesota and Ontario Section
Section Code: 212M Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Minnesota Drift and Lake Plains Section
Section Code: 212N Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lake Michigan Section
Section Code: 212O Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lake Huron Section
Section Code: 212P Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Continental) Province
Province Code: 222 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lake Modified Till Section
Section Code: 222N Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Warm Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Adirondack-New England Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M212 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: White Mountain Section
Section Code: M212A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The overstory is dominated by coniferous trees, with or without a substantial deciduous component. Thuja occidentalis is the most abundant tree and may occur in pure stands. Usually there are other canopy species, especially Abies balsamea, Betula papyrifera, Picea glauca, Picea mariana, Populus tremuloides, and Pinus strobus. There is usually an abundant shrub/sapling layer with saplings of Thuja occidentalis and Abies balsamea along with the shrubs Acer spicatum, Corylus cornuta, Linnaea borealis, Lonicera canadensis, Rubus pubescens, and Sorbus decora. The ground layer is typically diverse on mesic to wet-mesic stands and less so on steep drier stands. Wet-mesic stands can contain a hummock-and-hollow topography, with a seasonally saturated hydrology. Typical species include Aralia nudicaulis, Eurybia macrophylla (= Aster macrophyllus), Clintonia borealis, Coptis trifolia, Cornus canadensis, Dryopteris carthusiana, Galium triflorum, Maianthemum canadense, Mitella nuda, and Trientalis borealis. Mosses include Sanionia uncinata (= Drepanocladus uncinatus), Hylocomium splendens, Plagiomnium cuspidatum, Pleurozium schreberi, Ptilium crista-castrensis, and Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus and, in wetter phases of the type, Sphagnum spp. (Ohmann and Ream 1971, Sims et al. 1989, MNNHP 1993, Chambers et al. 1997).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Thuja occidentalis G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree (canopy & subcanopy)  
 
 
Abies balsamea G4 Needle-leaved tree Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Acer spicatum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community is found on gentle wet-mesic slopes to very steep well-drained slopes (MNNHP 1993). Soils are moderately deep to deep (50-100 cm), calcareous, coarse- to fine-textured, and often contain boulders at the surface (Ohmann and Ream 1971, Sims et al. 1989).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Browsing by deer can be a serious hindrance to Thuja occidentalis reproduction (MNNHP 1993).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): D. Faber-Langendoen (2001)
Element Description Edition Date: 24Jun2013
Element Description Author(s): J. Drake and D. Faber-Langendoen
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Oct1996

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


References
  • Chambers, B. A., B. J. Naylor, J. Nieppola, B. Merchant, and P. Uhlig. 1997. Field guide to forest ecosystems of central Ontario. Southcentral Science Section (SCSS) Field Guide FG-01, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, North Bay, Ontario, Canada. 200 pp.

  • Faber-Langendoen, D., N. Aaseng, K. Hop, M. Lew-Smith, and J. Drake. 2007a. Vegetation classification, mapping, and monitoring at Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota: An application of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Applied Vegetation Science 10:361-374.

  • Faber-Langendoen, D., editor. 2001. Plant communities of the Midwest: Classification in an ecological context. Association for Biodiversity Information, Arlington, VA. 61 pp. plus appendix (705 pp.).

  • Grigal, D. F., and L. F. Ohmann. 1975. Classification, description, and dynamics of upland plant communities within a Minnesota wilderness area. Ecological Monographs 45:389-407.

  • Harris, A. G., S. C. McMurray, P. W. C. Uhlig, J. K. Jeglum, R. F. Foster, and G. D. Racey. 1996. Field guide to the wetland ecosystem classification for northwestern Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Northwest Science and Technology, Thunder Bay, Ontario. Field guide FG-01. 74 pp. plus appendix.

  • Hop, K., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Lew-Smith, N. Aaseng, and S. Lubinski. [1999]. USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program: Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota. USDI U.S. Geological Survey, La Crosse, WI. 210 pp.

  • Hop, K., S. Menard, J. Drake, S. Lubinski, D. Faber-Langendoen, and J. Dieck. 2010b. National Park Service Vegetation Inventory Program: Grand Portage National Monument, Minnesota. Natural Resource Report NPS/GLKN/NRR-2010/200. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 202 pp.

  • Hop, K., S. Menard, J. Drake, S. Lubinski, and J. Dieck. 2010a. National Park Service Vegetation Inventory Program: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin. Natural Resource Report NPS/GLKN/NRR-2010/199. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 310 pp.

  • Hop, K., S. Menard, J. Drake, S. Lubinski, and J. Dieck. 2010c. National Park Service Vegetation Inventory Program: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan. Natural Resource Report NPS/GLKN/NRR-2010/201. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. 358 pp.

  • Lee, H., W. Bakowsky, J. Riley, J. Bowles, M. Puddister, P. Uhlig, and S. McMurray. 1998. Ecological land classification for southern Ontario: First approximation and its application. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southcentral Science Section, Science Development and Transfer Branch. SCSS Field Guide FG-02.

  • MNNHP [Minnesota Natural Heritage Program]. 1993. Minnesota's native vegetation: A key to natural communities. Version 1.5. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program, St. Paul, MN. 110 pp.

  • Midwestern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Minneapolis, MN.

  • Minnesota DNR [Minnesota Department of Natural Resources]. 2003-2005a. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota. Three volumes: The Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (2003), The Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province (2005c), The Prairie Parkland and Tallgrass Aspen Parklands provinces (2005b). Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul.

  • Minnesota DNR [Minnesota Department of Natural Resources]. 2003. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota: The Laurentian Mixed Forest Province. Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul.

  • ONHIC [Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre]. 2018. Unpublished data. Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario, Canada.

  • Ohmann, L. F., and P. R. Ream. 1971. Wilderness ecology: Virgin plant communities of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Research Paper NC-63. USDA Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station, St. Paul, MN. 35 pp.

  • Sims, R. A., W. D. Towill, K. A. Baldwin, P. Uhlig, and G. M. Wickware. 1997. Field guide to the forest ecosystem classification for northwestern Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, North West Science and Technology, Thunder Bay, ON. Field Guide FG-03. 176 pp.

  • Sims, R. A., W. D. Towill, K. A. Baldwin, and G. M. Wickware. 1989. Field guide to the forest ecosystem classification for northwestern Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Toronto. 191 pp.

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 1999b. USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program: Classification of the vegetation of Isle Royale National Park. The Nature Conservancy, Midwest Regional Office, Minneapolis, MN, and International Headquarters, Arlington, VA. 143 pp.


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