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Morella (pensylvanica, cerifera) / Schizachyrium littorale - Eupatorium hyssopifolium Shrub Grassland
Translated Name: (Northern Bayberry, Wax-myrtle) / Shore Little Bluestem - Hyssopleaf Thoroughwort Shrub Grassland
Common Name: Mid-Atlantic Coast Backdune Shrub Grassland
Unique Identifier: CEGL004240
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These mid-Atlantic maritime grasslands occur on deep well-drained sands of interdunes and backdunes. They usually occur within the influence of offshore winds and salt spray. Although highly variable in species composition, the typical expression of this community is characterized by a predominance (25-50% cover) of bunchgrasses including Schizachyrium littorale (= Schizachyrium scoparium ssp. littorale), Andropogon virginicus, Panicum amarum, Ammophila breviligulata, Dichanthelium scoparium, and Dichanthelium acuminatum. Generally one or two of these species dominate, while the others are less common. Occasionally Spartina patens forms the dominant graminoid cover. Shrubs of Morella pensylvanica (= Myrica pensylvanica) and/or Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera) are sparse and stunted Baccharis halimifolia, Prunus maritima, and Diospyros virginiana are even less frequent. Dense tangles of Toxicodendron radicans are very characteristic of this community as they sprawl over the bare ground and sparse vegetation. Rubus argutus and Rhus copallinum are also scattered throughout. Much of the remaining dry sands are exposed with sparsely distributed herbs. Characteristic herb species include Cirsium horridulum, Solidago sempervirens, Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (= Gnaphalium obtusifolium), Nuttallanthus canadensis, Euthamia caroliniana (= Euthamia tenuifolia), Oenothera humifusa, Oenothera oakesiana, Pityopsis falcata, Opuntia humifusa, and Diodia teres. This association ranges from Massachusetts to North Carolina. It is related to maritime grasslands of New England and New York. Further analysis is required to determine the classification, and thus the range, with confidence. Diagnostic species are Morella pensylvanica, Schizachyrium littorale, Eupatorium hyssopifolium, and Eupatorium rotundifolium.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.B - Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland
Formation 2.B.4 - Temperate to Polar Scrub & Herb Coastal Vegetation
Division 2.B.4.Na - Eastern North American Coastal Scrub & Herb Vegetation
Macrogroup Eastern North American Coastal Dune & Grassland
Group North Atlantic Coastal Dune & Grassland
Alliance Northern Coastal Plain Little Bluestem Grassland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003881 Morella pensylvanica / Diodia teres Shrubland
CEGL006067 Morella pensylvanica / Schizachyrium littorale - Danthonia spicata Shrub Grassland
CEGL006161 (Morella pensylvanica) / Schizachyrium littorale - Aristida tuberculosa Shrub Grassland



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
Delaware Mid-Atlantic Coast Backdune Grassland Equivalent Certain Coxe 2009
Maryland Morella (pensylvanica, cerifera) / Schizachyrium littorale - Eupatorium hyssopifolium Shrub Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011
New Jersey Morella pensylvanica / Schizachyrium littorale - Eupatorium hyssopifolium Shrub Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Breden et al. 2001
North Carolina Maritime Dry Grassland (Northern Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Morella (pensylvanica, cerifera) / Schizachyrium littorale - Eupatorium hyssopifolium Shrub Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
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.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 1997a. Vegetation classification of Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Report to the NBS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. The Nature Conservancy. Eastern Regional Office, Boston, MA.
Related Concept Name: Myrica pensylvanica / Schizachyrium scoparium ssp. littorale - Eupatorium hyssopifolium Shrub Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Bartgis, R. 1986. Natural community descriptions. Unpublished draft. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis.
Related Concept Name: Maritime Dry Grassland (Northern Bayberry Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Maritime Shrubland
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: Shrub succession community
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Hill, S. R. 1986. An annotated checklist of the vascular flora of Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia). Castanea 5:265-305.
Related Concept Name: Xeric shrub community
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Higgins, E. A. T., R. D. Rappleye, and R. G. Brown. 1971. The flora and ecology of Assateague Island. University of Maryland Experiment Station Bulletin A-172. 70 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.264 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Dune and Swale


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (02Dec1998)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This grassland community is confined to barrier islands ranging from New Jersey to Virginia. It occurs on dune flats protected from overwash, and is generally small in size with occurrences ranging from less than an acre to approximately 20 acres. Approximately 100-120 occurrences are thought to occur rangewide, covering a total of less than 1000 acres. The major threats to this community are human development (commercial and residential building), as well as dune stabilization activities.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: DE, MD, NC, NJpotentially occurs, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community ranges from New Jersey to Virginia and North Carolina on coastal dunes.

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
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Although highly variable in species composition, the typical expression of this community is characterized by a predominance (25-50% cover) of bunchgrasses including Schizachyrium littorale (= Schizachyrium scoparium ssp. littorale), Andropogon virginicus, Panicum amarum, Ammophila breviligulata, Dichanthelium scoparium, Eragrostis spectabilis, and Dichanthelium acuminatum. Generally one or two of these species is dominant while the others occur as more infrequent, scattered clumps. Occasionally Spartina patens forms the dominant graminoid cover. Shrubs of Morella pensylvanica (= Myrica pensylvanica) are sparse and stunted Baccharis halimifolia, Prunus maritima, and Diospyros virginiana are even less frequent. Dense tangles of Toxicodendron radicans are very characteristic of this association as they sprawl over the bare ground and sparse vegetation. Rubus argutus and Rhus copallinum are also scattered throughout. Much of the remaining dry sands are exposed with sparsely distributed herbs. Characteristic herb species include Cirsium horridulum, Solidago sempervirens, Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (= Gnaphalium obtusifolium), Nuttallanthus canadensis (= Linaria canadensis), Euthamia caroliniana (= Euthamia tenuifolia), Oenothera humifusa, Oenothera oakesiana, Pityopsis falcata, Opuntia humifusa, and Diodia teres.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Morella pensylvanica G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Eupatorium hyssopifolium G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Eupatorium rotundifolium G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Solidago sempervirens G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium ssp. littorale G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Toxicodendron radicans G2 Liana Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs on deep well-drained sands of old leveled interdunes and backdunes. It usually occurs within the influence of offshore winds and salt spray.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A. Berdine
Element Description Edition Date: 06Sep2013
Element Description Author(s): A. Berdine, S.L. Neid and L.A. Sneddon
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 27Jan1999
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): L.A. Sneddon

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


References
  • Bartgis, R. 1986. Natural community descriptions. Unpublished draft. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis.

  • Berdine, M. A. 1998. Maryland vegetation classification. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD.

  • Blizzard, A. W. 1931. Plant sociology and vegetational change on High Hill, Long Island, New York. Ecology 12:208-231.

  • Breden, T. F., Y. R. Alger, K. S. Walz, and A. G. Windisch. 2001. Classification of vegetation communities of New Jersey: Second iteration. Association for Biodiversity Information and New Jersey Natural Heritage Program, Office of Natural Lands Management, Division of Parks and Forestry, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton.

  • Coxe, R. 2009. Guide to Delaware vegetation communities. Spring 2009 edition. State of Delaware, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna.

  • Dunwiddie, P. W., K. A. Harper, and B. Zaremba. 1993. Classification and ranking of coastal heathlands and sandplain grasslands in Massachusetts. Final report to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Boston, MA.

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

  • Fleming, G. P. 2001a. Community types of Coastal Plain calcareous ravines in Virginia. Preliminary analysis and classification. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 4 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Higgins, E. A. T., R. D. Rappleye, and R. G. Brown. 1971. The flora and ecology of Assateague Island. University of Maryland Experiment Station Bulletin A-172. 70 pp.

  • Hill, S. R. 1986. An annotated checklist of the vascular flora of Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia). Castanea 5:265-305.

  • NatureServe. 2009. Vegetation of the E.B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. International Ecological Classification Standard: Terrestrial Ecological Classifications. NatureServe Central Databases. Arlington, VA. U.S.A. Data current as of 1 December 2009.

  • 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.

  • Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. P. 2012. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina, 4th Approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Sneddon, L., M. Anderson, and K. Metzler. 1996. Community alliances and elements of the Eastern Region. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Heritage Task Force, Boston, MA. 235 pp.

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 1995c. NBS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program: Vegetation classification of Assateague Island National Seashore. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Regional Office, Boston, MA.

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 1997a. Vegetation classification of Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Report to the NBS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. The Nature Conservancy. Eastern Regional Office, Boston, MA.


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