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Pinus rigida - Quercus alba / Sporobolus heterolepis - Andropogon gerardii Woodland
Translated Name: Pitch Pine - White Oak / Prairie Dropseed - Big Bluestem Woodland
Common Name: Southern Blue Ridge Ultramafic Outcrop Barrens (Pitch Pine Woodland Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL003768
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community occurs on shallow, rocky soils associated with outcrops of serpentinized olivine in the Southern Blue Ridge. It is a unique community with a restricted range and few known occurrences. This community includes open woodland vegetation dominated by stunted Pinus rigida and Quercus alba, occurring over a cespitose graminoid-dominated understory with little shrub cover. Although the relative basal area for the two canopy species is the same, Pinus rigida is twice as dense as Quercus alba. Other canopy and subcanopy trees may include Tsuga canadensis, Acer rubrum, and Oxydendrum arboreum. The dense herbaceous stratum is dominated by Andropogon gerardii, Sporobolus heterolepis, and Schizachyrium scoparium. Common forbs include Packera plattensis (= Senecio plattensis), Hexastylis arifolia var. ruthii, and Thalictrum macrostylum.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Seepage areas dominated by Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis and Parnassia grandifolia, with Sanguisorba canadensis, Oxypolis rigidior, and Panicum virgatum, occur as inclusions in this woodland. This community is endemic to Buck Creek, Clay County, North Carolina.

Similar vegetation occurs in association with serpentine soils in the southwestern Piedmont of Virginia (Rawinski 1992) and is distinguished by the dominance of Pinus virginiana and other significant differences in floristic composition. Physiognomically similar vegetation occurs on serpentine in the northwestern United States as well as in Maryland and Pennsylvania.


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-Northeastern Oak - Hardwood - Pine Forest & Woodland
Group Pitch Pine Barrens
Alliance Southern Blue Ridge Pitch Pine - Oak Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004968 Pinus rigida - Quercus stellata / Andropogon gerardii - Packera paupercula Woodland
CEGL006084 (Quercus stellata) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Packera plattensis - Parthenium auriculatum - Phemeranthus piedmontanus Wooded Grassland
CEGL007296 Quercus alba / Physocarpus opulifolius / Packera plattensis - Hexastylis arifolia var. ruthii Forest
CEGL007721 Pinus virginiana - Pinus rigida - Quercus stellata / Ceanothus americanus / Thalictrum revolutum Woodland



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
North Carolina Ultramafic Outcrop Barren (Pitch Pine Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: IE9b. Blue Ridge/Piedmont Ultramafic Barren
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Allard, D. J. 1990. Southeastern United States ecological community classification. Interim report, Version 1.2. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC. 96 pp.
Related Concept Name: Pitch Pine - Oak (15)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.
Related Concept Name: Ultramafic Outcrop Barren
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.
Related Concept Name: Ultramafic Outcrop Barren (Pitch Pine Subtype)
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
CES202.347 Eastern Serpentine Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1 (22Oct2002)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This community occurs on shallow, rocky soils associated with outcrops of serpentinized olivine in the Southern Blue Ridge. It is a unique community with a restricted range and few known occurrences. There is little or no potential for the discovery of additional occurrences. Periodic fire is needed to help maintain the graminoid-dominated understory. Fire should be applied with the objective of maintaining a physiognomic complex of woodland, forest, and grass-dominated areas.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NC
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is endemic to Buck Creek, Clay County, North Carolina, in the Southern Blue Ridge.

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: These open woodlands have canopies dominated by stunted Pinus rigida and Quercus alba. Although the relative basal area for the two species is the same, Pinus rigida is twice as dense as Quercus alba. Other canopy and subcanopy trees may include Tsuga canadensis, Acer rubrum, and Oxydendrum arboreum. Shrub cover is sparse, typically forming less than 10% coverage and occurring in clumps. Shrub species include Physocarpus opulifolius, Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides, Vaccinium stamineum, Kalmia latifolia, and a low, stoloniferous form of Rhododendron viscosum. Smilax glauca is a common vine. The dense herbaceous stratum is dominated by cespitose graminoids, most commonly Andropogon gerardii, Sporobolus heterolepis, and Schizachyrium scoparium. Common forbs include Packera plattensis (= Senecio plattensis), Hexastylis arifolia var. ruthii, and Thalictrum macrostylum. Other herbaceous species known to occur in this community include Poa saltuensis, Muhlenbergia glomerata, Danthonia spicata, Danthonia compressa, Sorghastrum nutans, Panicum virgatum, Dichanthelium dichotomum, Dichanthelium boscii, Elymus trachycaulus ssp. trachycaulus, Deschampsia caespitosa, Castilleja coccinea, Carex woodii, Symphyotrichum undulatum (= Aster undulatus), Symphyotrichum laeve (= Aster laevis), Oenothera fruticosa, Thaspium trifoliatum, and Phlox stolonifera. Regionally uncommon species or species disjunct from their main distributions include Carex woodii, Deschampsia caespitosa ssp. glauca, Elymus trachycaulus, Frasera caroliniensis, Gentianopsis crinita, Muhlenbergia glomerata, Pedicularis lanceolata, Poa saltuensis, Polygala paucifolia, Polygala senega, Packera plattensis, and Sporobolus heterolepis (Schafale and Weakley 1990).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Quercus alba G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus rigida G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Physocarpus opulifolius G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Calystegia catesbeiana ssp. catesbeiana G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Gentianopsis crinita G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Hexastylis arifolia var. ruthii G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Liparis loeselii G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Oenothera perennis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Packera plattensis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Parnassia grandifolia G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Pedicularis lanceolata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Ranunculus fascicularis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Thalictrum macrostylum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola appalachiensis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Andropogon gerardii G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Brachyelytrum aristosum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Calamagrostis porteri ssp. porteri G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex woodii G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. glauca G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Elymus trachycaulus ssp. trachycaulus G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Muhlenbergia glomerata G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Poa saltuensis G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus heterolepis G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Drepanolejeunea appalachiana G1 Liverwort/hornwort Nonvascular      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Calystegia catesbeiana ssp. catesbeiana
  (Catesby's False Bindweed)
G3T2?Q  
Drepanolejeunea appalachiana
  (a liverwort)
G2?  
Parnassia grandifolia
  (Largeleaf Grass-of-Parnassus)
G3  
Phyciodes batesii maconensis
  (Appalachian Crescent)
G4G5T2T3  
Speyeria aphrodite cullasaja
  (Aphrodite Fritillary)
G5T1  
Thalictrum macrostylum
  (Small-leaf Meadowrue)
G3G4  

Vegetation Structure
Stratum Growth Form
Height of Stratum (m)
Cover
Class
%
Min
Cover %
Max
Cover %
Tree canopy Broad-leaved deciduous tree
 
 
 
 
Tree canopy Needle-leaved tree
 
 
 
 
Herb (field) Flowering forb
 
 
 
 
Herb (field) Graminoid
 
 
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs on shallow, rocky soils associated with outcrops of serpentinized olivine in the Southern Blue Ridge. These circumneutral soils are high in magnesium and have low water-holding capacity (Mansberg and Wentworth 1984). This woodland is found at moderate elevations (1015 m) on gentle to steep slopes with a western or southwestern exposure.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The open, grassy woodland structure of this community is probably determined by a combination of site conditions and periodic disturbances. The dry grassy vegetation is flammable and recovery of woody species following a fire may be slow. The natural fire frequency for this woodland is not known. In the absence of occasional fire, shrub density increases and herbaceous cover decreases. However, the overstory composition and structure is likely maintained, at least in part, by the harsh soil conditions. Within the past 30 years, the overstory in this community has been significantly reduced because of infestations of southern pine beetle. Periodic fire will help maintain the graminoid-dominated understory. Fire should be applied with the objective of maintaining a physiognomic complex of woodland, forest, and grass-dominated areas.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson and G. Kauffman
Element Description Edition Date: 23Feb1995
Element Description Author(s): K.D. Patterson
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 22Oct2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M. Pyne

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


References
  • Allard, D. J. 1990. Southeastern United States ecological community classification. Interim report, Version 1.2. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC. 96 pp.

  • Fleming, Gary P. Personal communication. Ecologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.

  • Kauffman, Gary. Personal communication. Botanist. USDA Forest Service, Nantahala National Forest, Highlands, NC.

  • Mansberg, L., and T. R. Wentworth. 1984. Vegetation and soils of a serpentine barren in western North Carolina. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 111:273-286.

  • Peet, R. K., T. R. Wentworth, M. P. Schafale, and A.S. Weakley. No date. Unpublished data of the North Carolina Vegetation Survey. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

  • Rawinski, T. J. 1992. A classification of Virginia's indigenous biotic communities: Vegetated terrestrial, palustrine, and estuarine community classes. Unpublished document. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report No. 92-21. Richmond, VA. 25 pp.

  • 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.

  • Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.

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

  • USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.

  • Weakley, A. S. 2010. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, and surrounding areas. Unpublished working draft. University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU), North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. [http://www.herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htm]


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