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Acer rubrum var. rubrum - Betula lenta - Magnolia fraseri / (Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia) Ruderal Forest
Translated Name: Red Maple - Sweet Birch - Mountain Magnolia / (Great Laurel, Mountain Laurel) Ruderal Forest
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Ruderal Acidic Mixed Hardwood Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL008558
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association includes submesic, potentially fire-exposed or heavily logged, mid and upper slopes in the Southern Appalachians north to the Cumberlands. Canopy dominance may be shared by a number of species, including Acer rubrum var. rubrum, Carya glabra, Magnolia fraseri, Halesia tetraptera var. monticola, Nyssa sylvatica, Betula alleghaniensis var. alleghaniensis, Betula lenta, Oxydendrum arboreum, and Tsuga canadensis, but the community's most distinctive character is the relative lack of dominance by any one species and the lack of oak species in the canopy. This community may occasionally be dominated by Betula lenta and/or Betula alleghaniensis with an extremely dense understory of Rhododendron maximum; it may intergrade with acidic cove forests farther downslope. The understory shrub layer is composed of a combination of Kalmia latifolia and Rhododendron maximum, though the cover is not consistently 100%. The proportion of Kalmia to Rhododendron varies widely through this association, with more xeric sites having a higher concentration of Kalmia latifolia than Rhododendron maximum. In addition, drier versions of this association tend to contain abundant Sassafras albidum in the understory, whereas the more mesic versions have lower densities of Sassafras albidum. The herb layer is generally sparse but may sometimes be dominated by a dense cover of ferns such as Dennstaedtia punctilobula or Dryopteris marginalis.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: None of the communities listed as similar associations are very close to this association in canopy composition, but the understory of all of these associations is similar. Some examples of this community may resemble and even intergrade with acidic cove forest (CEGL007543) but usually occur high up on south- and even some north-facing slopes far from the concave cove areas. This community may begin to pick up species such as Picea rubens and Prunus pensylvanica at the highest parts of its elevational range in the Southern Appalachians. In the Cumberlands, it definitely can intergrade with acidic coves, and the line between these communities is often hard to draw.

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-Allegheny Northern Hardwood - Conifer Forest
Alliance Central & Southern Appalachian Buckeye - Northern Hardwood Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006271 Quercus (prinus, coccinea) / Kalmia latifolia / (Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens) Forest
CEGL006286 Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest
CEGL007230 Quercus alba - Quercus (rubra, prinus) / Rhododendron calendulaceum - (Gaylussacia ursina) Forest
CEGL007267 Quercus prinus - (Quercus rubra) - Carya spp. / Oxydendrum arboreum - Cornus florida Forest
CEGL007543 Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest
CEGL007861 Betula alleghaniensis - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum / (Leucothoe fontanesiana) 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
Tennessee Acer rubrum var. rubrum - Betula (alleghaniensis, lenta) - Magnolia fraseri / (Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia) Ruderal Forest Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data



Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.886 Southern Appalachian Oak Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: GNA (09Oct2001)
Rounded Global Status: GNA - Not Applicable
Reasons: Ranked as modified due to the heavy effects logging had on most of these stands over the past 100 years. Stands of this type appear to have been modified by a combination of logging, chestnut death, and fire suppression. These are mature stands in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: KY, NC, TN, VApotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is documented only from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, but it may occur throughout the mid- to higher elevation exposed slopes of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, and possibly also into adjacent parts of Virginia and West Virginia.

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: Cumberland Mountains Section
Section Code: M221C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The canopy of this association is typically shared by a wide range of species including Acer rubrum var. rubrum, Betula alleghaniensis var. alleghaniensis, Betula lenta, Magnolia fraseri, Oxydendrum arboreum, Nyssa sylvatica, and Tsuga canadensis. The understory includes some subcanopy trees such as Ilex opaca var. opaca or Ilex montana, and shrub species such as Kalmia latifolia and Rhododendron maximum can be very dense. The proportion of Kalmia to Rhododendron varies widely through this association, with more xeric sites having a higher concentration of Kalmia latifolia than Rhododendron maximum. In addition, drier versions of this association tend to contain abundant Sassafras albidum in the understory, whereas the more mesic versions have lower densities of Sassafras albidum. Although the herb layer is comprised mostly of small shrubs, seedlings, and evergreens, Trillium undulatum, Goodyera pubescens, and other acid-loving species can occasionally be found in this association.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer rubrum var. rubrum GNA Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Betula alleghaniensis var. alleghaniensis GNA Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Betula lenta GNA Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Halesia tetraptera var. monticola GNA Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Magnolia fraseri GNA Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Nyssa sylvatica GNA Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Oxydendrum arboreum GNA Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga canadensis GNA Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Rhododendron maximum GNA Broad-leaved evergreen tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Kalmia latifolia GNA Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This is a submesic forest found on moderate to steep terrain on upper slopes of many different aspects and positions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area at 760 to 1440 m (2500-4600 feet) in elevation and extending up the Blue Ridge into southern Virginia at the same altitude. Although tree sizes can be very large, this community is usually a late-successional community that developed in mid-elevation areas that were historically dominated by Castanea dentata. As the Castanea dentata senesced and logging proceeded in remote sections of the park, the tree species now seen in the canopy began to be released from the understory to the canopy. This may explain why the community is so variable in its slope position, moisture regime, and elevation. The areas were probably historically fire-exposed sites before the suppression of landscape-scale fires. Soils are usually very deep.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: It is assumed that these communities may have burned in the past. The lack of oak trees in this association is poorly understood. Some examples of this association occur in virgin forest areas, though there are areas where large chestnut stumps are present; these stands may represent a post-chestnut-blight or post-chestnut-blight logging replacement forest. Other stands occur in areas with a previous logging history, and may reflect stands developing after logging.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): R. White
Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2007
Element Description Author(s): R. White
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 09Oct2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): R. White

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.

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

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

  • White, R. D., Jr. 2006. Vascular plant inventory and ecological community classification for Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 246 pp.


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