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Platanus occidentalis - Betula nigra - Salix (caroliniana, nigra) Floodplain Forest
Translated Name: American Sycamore - River Birch - (Coastal Plain Willow, Black Willow) Floodplain Forest
Common Name: Piedmont-Central Appalachian Sycamore - River Birch Floodplain Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL003896
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This early-successional woodland community of coarse-textured (cobbly / bouldery) to fine-textured (silty or muddy) depositional bars and islands occurs along rivers and large streams in the High Allegheny Plateau, Central Appalachians, and Lower New England ecoregions. It is subject to relatively frequent and powerful flooding and ice-scouring and has a highly variable physiognomy. It is dominated by stunted, usually battered and flood-trained trees (varying from <5 to >10 m tall) of Platanus occidentalis and Betula nigra. Salix caroliniana and Salix nigra are dominant or codominant in a minority of stands. Other floodplain trees, particularly Acer saccharinum and Fraxinus pennsylvanica, may occur as minor associates. Shrub associates include Cornus amomum, Salix sericea, Alnus serrulata, and sometimes Cephalanthus occidentalis or Physocarpus opulifolius. The herbaceous layer ranges from sparse to moderately dense. Characteristic herbs include Apocynum cannabinum, Polygonum virginianum, Polygonum hydropiper, Polygonum pensylvanicum, Polygonum hydropiperoides, Polygonum sagittatum, Polygonum pensylvanicum, Eupatorium serotinum, Asclepias incarnata, Pilea pumila, Hypericum spp., Bidens spp., Phalaris arundinacea, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Leersia virginica, Panicum virgatum, and Justicia americana. Vines such as Vitis riparia and Toxicodendron radicans are often found throughout this association. Exotics such as Lythrum salicaria, Microstegium vimineum, Polygonum cuspidatum, Coronilla varia, and Rosa multiflora are frequent invaders.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Classification of this type was refined through analysis of data from 40 plots from the Potomac River across several physiographic provinces. Salix interior, a former nominal in the type, is listed as "rare" in Maryland and Virginia (Kartesz 1999).

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 Central Hardwood Floodplain Forest
Group Silver Maple - Sugarberry - Sweetgum Floodplain Forest
Alliance Appalachian-Piedmont River Birch - Sycamore Floodplain Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003725 Platanus occidentalis - Betula nigra / Cornus amomum / (Andropogon gerardii, Chasmanthium latifolium) Floodplain Forest
CEGL004031 Platanus occidentalis / Dichanthelium clandestinum - Festuca subverticillata Floodplain Forest
CEGL006184 Betula nigra - Platanus occidentalis / Impatiens capensis Floodplain Forest
CEGL006476 Platanus occidentalis - Acer saccharinum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Boehmeria cylindrica - Carex emoryi Floodplain 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
Maryland Betula nigra - Salix interior Shrubland Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011
New York Floodplain forest Broader Certain Edinger et al. 2002
Pennsylvania Mixed Hardwood Floodplain Thicket Equivalent   Zimmerman et al. 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Betula nigra - Salix interior Shrubland
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.
Related Concept Name: Platanus occidentalis - Betula nigra - Salix (caroliniana, nigra) / Apocynum cannabinum Wooded Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Lea, C. 2003. Vegetation types in the National Capital Region Parks. Draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. March 2003. 140 pp.
Related Concept Name: Platanus occidentalis - Betula nigra - Salix (caroliniana, nigra) / Apocynum sibiricum Woodland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]
Related Concept Name: Black willow - mixed hardwood riverine shrubland
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Perles, S., G. Podniesinski, and J. Wagner. 2004. Classification, assessment and protection of non-forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna drainage. Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Harrisburg. 128 pp.
Related Concept Name: Mixed hardwood riverine shrubland
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Perles, S., G. Podniesinski, and J. Wagner. 2004. Classification, assessment and protection of non-forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna drainage. Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Harrisburg. 128 pp.
Related Concept Name: River Birch - Sycamore Floodplain Scrub
Relationship: = - Equivalent
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.
Related Concept Name: River birch (sycamore) - mixed hardwood riverine shrubland
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Perles, S., G. Podniesinski, and J. Wagner. 2004. Classification, assessment and protection of non-forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna drainage. Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Harrisburg. 128 pp.
Related Concept Name: River birch-willow thickets
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
Related Concept Name: River-Scour Woodland
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: Rocky Bar / Shore
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Silver maple (river birch) - mixed hardwood riverine shrubland
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Perles, S., G. Podniesinski, and J. Wagner. 2004. Classification, assessment and protection of non-forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna drainage. Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Harrisburg. 128 pp.
Related Concept Name: Sycamore - mixed hardwood riverine shrubland
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Perles, S., G. Podniesinski, and J. Wagner. 2004. Classification, assessment and protection of non-forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna drainage. Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Harrisburg. 128 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.324 Southern Piedmont Large Floodplain Forest
CES202.608 Central Appalachian River Floodplain
CES202.609 Central Appalachian Stream and Riparian
CES202.706 South-Central Interior Small Stream and Riparian


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4G5 (01Dec1997)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is found in the High Allegheny, Central Appalachian, Piedmont, and Lower New England ecoregions from West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland north to New York. It is also attributed to the Western Allegheny Plateau. The low-gradient variant is widespread along major streams of the Piedmont Mesozoic Basins in northern Virginia and Maryland, and scattered along lower-gradient stretches of rivers and large streams in the Ridge and Valley province. It has been documented by plot data from the Potomac and Monocacy rivers and Antietam Creek in Maryland and Bull Run in Virginia. Its distribution is very likely much wider than existing data indicate.

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 Glaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 212F Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 212G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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
Section Name: Southern Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 221E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Western Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 221F Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 231 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
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 physiognomy of this community is extremely variable, with recently disturbed stands often having the stature of shrublands, and older stands attaining more of a woodland form. The vegetation is dominated by stunted and often battered and flood-trained trees (varying from less than 5 m tall to >10 m tall) of Platanus occidentalis and Betula nigra. Salix caroliniana and Salix nigra are dominant or codominant in a minority of stands. Other floodplain trees, particularly Acer saccharinum and Fraxinus pennsylvanica, may occur as minor associates. Shrub associates include Cornus amomum, Salix sericea, Alnus serrulata, and sometimes Cephalanthus occidentalis or Physocarpus opulifolius. The herbaceous layer ranges from sparse to moderately dense. Characteristic herbs include Apocynum cannabinum, Polygonum virginianum, Polygonum hydropiper, Polygonum pensylvanicum, Polygonum hydropiperoides, Polygonum sagittatum, Polygonum pensylvanicum, Asclepias incarnata, Eupatorium serotinum, Hypericum spp., Bidens spp., Artemisia annua, Cyperus spp., Boehmeria cylindrica, Phyla lanceolata, Hibiscus laevis, Ipomoea lacunosa, Acalypha rhomboidea, Phalaris arundinacea, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Leersia virginica, Panicum virgatum, Pilea pumila, and Justicia americana. Vines such as Vitis riparia and Toxicodendron radicans are often found throughout this association. Exotics such as Microstegium vimineum, Polygonum caespitosum var. longisetum, Lythrum salicaria, and Polygonum cuspidatum are a frequent problem.

The two variants of this type in the Potomac drainage [see Environment] are similar in total floristic composition but may differ considerably in herbaceous density and the relative abundances of individual species. The high-gradient variant tends to have a sparse herb layer of somewhat stunted ruderal species, including Apocynum cannabinum, Cyperus strigosus, Acalypha rhomboidea, and Eupatorium serotinum. The low-gradient variant has a variable herb layer that includes flood-tolerant species such as Pilea pumila, Leersia virginica, Leersia oryzoides, Scrophularia marilandica, annual species of Polygonum (Polygonum caespitosum var. longisetum, Polygonum punctatum, Polygonum sagittatum), Mimulus alatus, Mimulus ringens, Carex lurida, Carex frankii, Carex tribuloides, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Paspalum fluitans, Verbena hastata, and Scutellaria lateriflora. Exotics are common in both variants.


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharinum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Betula nigra G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Platanus occidentalis G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Salix nigra G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Lythrum salicaria G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Persicaria hydropiper G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Polygonum caespitosum var. longisetum G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polygonum cuspidatum G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polygonum pensylvanicum G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Leersia virginica G4 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Microstegium vimineum G4 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Panicum virgatum G4 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Phalaris arundinacea G4 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Vitis riparia G4 Liana Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This is an early-successional community of coarse-textured or fine-textured depositional bars and islands subject to frequent flooding. Two environmental / floristic variants of this type have been recognized across the upper Potomac River drainage: one occurring on cobbly and bouldery depositional bars and islands along high-gradient river stretches subject to frequent, high-energy flooding and ice-scouring; the other occurring on low, frequently flooded, muddy depositional bars and shorelines in relatively low-gradient (alluvial process control) river reaches. In the high-gradient variant, soils are usually sandy, periodically droughty when exposed, and tightly packed in a matrix of cobbles or boulders. In the low-gradient variant, soils have a significant silt component and are poorly drained even after long periods of exposure. Soils collected from plots of both variants were circumneutral (pH 7.0 to 7.2), with high calcium levels and 100% total base saturation.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M. Anderson et al., mod. M. Pyne and G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 04Oct2006
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid, S.C. Gawler and G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 27Mar2003

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


References
  • CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.

  • 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. 2002. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. (Draft for review). New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • 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. 2007. Ecological communities of the Potomac Gorge in Virginia: Composition, floristics, and environmental dynamics. Natural Heritage Technical Report 07-12. Unpublished report submitted to the National Park Service. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 341 pp. plus appendices.

  • 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., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]

  • 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, G. P., and K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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.

  • Kartesz, J. T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: J. T. Kartesz and C. A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Lea, C. 2000. Plant communities of the Potomac Gorge and their relationship to fluvial factors. M.S. thesis, George Mason University. Fairfax, VA. 219 pp.

  • Lea, C. 2003. Vegetation types in the National Capital Region Parks. Draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. March 2003. 140 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.

  • Perles, S. J., G. S. Podniesinski, E. Eastman, L. A. Sneddon, and S. C. Gawler. 2007. Classification and mapping of vegetation and fire fuel models at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2007/076. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 2 volumes.

  • Perles, S. J., G. S. Podniesinski, M. Furedi, B. A. Eichelberger, A. Feldmann, G. Edinger, E. Eastman, and L. A. Sneddon. 2008. Vegetation classification and mapping at Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2008/133. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 370 pp.

  • Perles, S., G. Podniesinski, and J. Wagner. 2004. Classification, assessment and protection of non-forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna drainage. Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Harrisburg. 128 pp.

  • TNC and WPC [The Nature Conservancy and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy]. 2004. Classification, assessment, and protection of non-forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna drainage. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Harrisburg, PA. 128 pp.

  • Zimmerman, E. A. 2011e. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. Mixed Hardwood Floodplain Thicket Factsheet. [http://www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us/Community.aspx?=30013] (accessed February 01, 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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