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Arundinaria gigantea ssp. gigantea Shrub Swamp
Translated Name: Giant Cane Shrub Swamp
Common Name: Floodplain Canebrake
Unique Identifier: CEGL003836
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is characterized by dense, often monospecific thickets of the bamboo shrub Arundinaria gigantea occupying large areas referred to as canebrakes. The canebrake shrubland type was historically widespread, but is now rare and occupies very little of its former acreage. It was best developed in streamside flats and alluvial floodplains on ridges and terraces where it was protected from prolonged inundation. Historically, this community covered large areas of many floodplains and streamsides in the Coastal Plain from North Carolina to Texas, Mississippi River Alluvial Plain, Interior Highlands, Interior Low Plateau, Southern Blue Ridge and possibly the Central Appalachians of the southeastern United States. Stands occur on alluvial and loess soils and are often associated with bottomland hardwood forest vegetation. This association is successional and is thought to be maintained by periodic fires. It may have originated following abandonment of aboriginal agricultural fields or other natural and anthropogenic disturbances such as blow-downs and catastrophic floods. Historical accounts report cane as abundant along the Wabash and Ohio drainage systems, as well as common along larger rivers (Buffalo, White, Norfork) in the Ozarks and Ouachitas. It was also reported as common along the Red and Mississippi rivers in Louisiana, Coastal Prairie rivers in Texas, and the Black, Washita, Arkansas, Sabine, Pearl, Tombigbee, Yazoo, Savannah, and St. Mary's rivers. Large, extant canebrakes still exist and have been documented from the Ocmulgee Basin, south of Macon, Georgia. In the Central Appalachians various wetlands, including those on alluvial or loess substrates (streamside flats, bottomlands), were dominated by Arundinaria, without an overstory, or with widely scattered trees.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: This is a general placeholder, covering a broad geographic range, and several associations may ultimately be recognized. Dense, monospecific stands of Arundinaria gigantea ssp. gigantea were historically found in bottomland sites in the southeastern United States. Today, high-quality examples are extremely rare, if not absent. Historical accounts refer to both "pure" stands of cane without an overstory of trees (cane shrublands) and areas with variable overstory closure (woodlands or forests) but with a dense understory dominated by cane as "canebrakes." As currently described, this association refers only to the former, cane shrublands.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Nd - Eastern North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Eastern North American Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Group Eastern North American Shrub Swamp
Alliance Canebrake Shrub Swamp

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



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
Alabama Arundinaria gigantea ssp. gigantea Shrubland Equivalent Certain Schotz pers. comm.
Illinois Wet-Mesic Upland Forest (S) Broader   White and Madany 1978
Missouri Stream/Riverbank Broader   Nelson 2010
North Carolina Piedmont/Mountain Canebrake Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
Oklahoma Arundinaria gigantea shrubland association Equivalent Certain Hoagland 2000
Tennessee Arundinaria gigantea ssp. gigantea Shrubland Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: P5A4bIII4a. Arundinaria gigantea
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Foti, T., M. Blaney, X. Li, and K. G. Smith. 1994. A classification system for the natural vegetation of Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 48:50-53.
Related Concept Name: Piedmont/Mountain Canebrake
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2002. Fourth approximation guide. Mountain communities. November 2002 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.705 South-Central Interior Large Floodplain
CES202.706 South-Central Interior Small Stream and Riparian
CES203.066 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Large River Floodplain Forest
CES203.190 Mississippi River Riparian Forest
CES203.196 Mississippi River High Floodplain (Bottomland) Forest
CES203.304 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Nonriverine Swamp and Wet Hardwood Forest
CES203.488 West Gulf Coastal Plain Large River Floodplain Forest
CES203.489 East Gulf Coastal Plain Large River Floodplain Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2? (15Feb1999)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Stands of this vegetation type were historically widespread, but now are rare or occupy very little acreage. It is thought to be maintained by frequent fire and may have historically resulted from aboriginal agriculture and burning. Dense, monospecific stands of Arundinaria gigantea ssp. gigantea were historically found in bottomland sites throughout the southeastern United States. Today, this vegetation exists as small remnants, and high-quality examples are extremely rare.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: AL, AR, FLpotentially occurs, GA, IL, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VApotentially occurs, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association was widespread historically but now occupies very little acreage. It may be found along rivers and streamsides in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and possibly Virginia (?).

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: Northern Cumberland Plateau Section
Section Code: 221H Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Central Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: 221J Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Continental) Province
Province Code: 222 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Ozark Highlands Section
Section Code: 222A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Upper Gulf Coastal Plain Section
Section Code: 222C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Interior Low Plateau, Shawnee Hills Section
Section Code: 222D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Interior Low Plateau, Highland Rim Section
Section Code: 222E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Interior Low Plateau, Bluegrass Section
Section Code: 222F 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
Section Name: Coastal Plain Middle Section
Section Code: 231B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Cumberland Plateau Section
Section Code: 231C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: 231D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Middle Coastal Plains, Western Section
Section Code: 231E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Arkansas Valley Section
Section Code: 231G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Province Name: Lower Mississippi Riverine Forest Province
Province Code: 234 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Mississippi Alluvial Basin Section
Section Code: 234A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Prairie Division
Province Name: Prairie Parkland (Subtropical) Province
Province Code: 255 Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Central Gulf Prairies and Marshes Section
Section Code: 255D Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
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: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Province Name: Ozark Broadleaf Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M222 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Boston Mountains Section
Section Code: M222A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Subtropical Regime Mountains
Province Name: Ouachita Mixed Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M231 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Ouachita Mountains Section
Section Code: M231A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The vegetation is dominated by Arundinaria gigantea. Little else is known about its vegetational characteristics. However, information on its historic patterns of distribution provides some clues as to its ecology. General Land Office surveys and other historical accounts indicate that canebrakes were present in southern Illinois, southern Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, eastern Texas (south to Wharton County), Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Historical accounts refer to both "pure" stands of cane without an overstory of trees (cane shrublands) and areas with variable overstory closure (woodlands or forests) but with a dense understory dominated by cane as "canebrakes." As currently described, this association refers only to the former, cane shrublands. Cane was abundant along the Wabash and Ohio drainage systems (B. McClain pers. comm. 2000). In Missouri, these canebrakes were also thought to be common in the Ozark Highlands, particularly in southward-draining rivers and streams with finer-textured, more developed soils on upper floodplain terraces (T. Nigh pers. comm. 2000). Stands may be found along larger rivers (Buffalo, White, Norfork) in the Arkansas Ozarks in addition to the Ouachitas. In the Central Appalachians various wetlands, including those on alluvial or loess substrates (streamside flats, bottomlands), were dominated by Arundinaria, without an overstory, or with widely scattered trees (Central Appalachian Forest Ecoregional Team pers. comm. 1998). Historic accounts describe large expanses (one area was described as 75 miles long by 1-3 miles wide) of an "ocean of cane" in bottomlands of the Coastal Prairie of Texas (Smeins et al. 1992). No extant occurrences of this vegetation are known from this area today.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Arundinaria gigantea G2 Bamboo tree Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Vermivora bachmanii
  (Bachman's Warbler)
GH LE: Listed endangered


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: Stands of this association occur on alluvial and loess soils often affiliated with bottomland hardwood forest vegetation. Historically, it was best developed in streamside flats and alluvial floodplains on ridges and terraces where it was protected from prolonged inundation.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: A canebrake is an early-successional community. It is suggested that Native Americans maintained canebrakes with the use of periodic fire to provide a ready source of cane for a myriad of uses. Canebrakes may have expanded greatly in cover following the abandonment of aboriginal agricultural lands after the collapse of Native American populations due to exotic diseases (Platt and Brantley 1997).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson, mod. D. Faber-Langendoen and J. Teague
Element Description Edition Date: 28Jan2002
Element Description Author(s): K.D. Patterson, D. Faber-Langendoen and J. Teague
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 15Feb1999
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): K.D. Patterson

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


References
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  • Blair, W. F. 1938. Ecological relationships of the mammals of the Bird Creek region, northeastern Oklahoma. The American Midland Naturalist 20:473-526.

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

  • Campbell, J. J. N. 1980a. Present and presettlement forest conditions in the Inner Bluegrass region of Kentucky. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Kentucky, Lexington. 109 pp. [Excerpts only]

  • Campbell, J. J. N. 1989b. Historical evidence of presettlement forest composition in the Inner Bluegrass of Kentucky. Pages 231-246 in: G. Rink and C. A. Budelsky, editors. Proceedings of the Seventh Central Hardwood Forest Conference, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

  • Chastain, R. A., M.A. Struckhoff, K. W. Grabner, E. D. Stroh, H. He, D. R. Larsen, T. A. Nigh, and J. Drake. 2006. Mapping vegetation communities in Ozark National Scenic Riverways: Final technical report to the National Park Service. Open-File Report 2006-1354. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA. 90 pp. plus appendices.

  • Davidson, U. M. 1950. The original vegetation of Lexington, Kentucky and vicinity. M.S. thesis, University of Kentucky, Lexington. 45 pp.

  • Flores, D. L. 1984. Jefferson and southwestern exploration. The Freeman and Curtis accounts of the Red River Expedition of 1806. University of Oklahoma Press.

  • Foti, T., M. Blaney, X. Li, and K. G. Smith. 1994. A classification system for the natural vegetation of Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 48:50-53.

  • Heineke, T. E. 1987. The flora and plant communities of the middle Mississippi River Valley. Ph.D. dissertation, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. 653 pp.

  • Hoagland, B. 2000. The vegetation of Oklahoma: A classification for landscape mapping and conservation planning. The Southwestern Naturalist 45(4):385-420.

  • Hoagland, B. W. 1997. Preliminary plant community classification for Oklahoma. Unpublished draft document, version 35629. University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Natural Heritage Inventory, Norman. 47 pp.

  • Hoagland, B. W. 1998c. Oklahoma riparian vegetation. In: A. Fallon and M. Smolen, editors. Riparian area management handbook. Publication number E-952. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.

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  • McClain, W. E. Personal communication. Ecologist, Illinois Department of Natural Heritage.

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  • Nuttall, T. 1821. A journal of travels into the Arkansas territory during the year 1819. T. H. Palmer, Philadelphia. (Re-published 1980. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.)

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  • Platt, S. G., and C. G. Brantley. 1997. Canebrakes: An ecological and historical perspective. Castanea 62:8-21.

  • Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. 2002. Fourth approximation guide. Mountain communities. November 2002 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.

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