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Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum - (Tilia americana var. heterophylla) / Hydrophyllum canadense - Solidago flexicaulis Forest
Translated Name: Yellow Buckeye - Sugar Maple - (Appalachian Basswood) / Bluntleaf Waterleaf - Zigzag Goldenrod Forest
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Rich Cove Forest (Montane Calcareous Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL007695
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association includes forests of protected coves in the southern Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southwest Virginia. This type extends peripherally into the Cumberland Mountains and Ridge and Valley of southwestern Virginia. These forests are associated with nutrient-rich soils and, often, mafic geologies, and occur on steep, middle to low protected slopes and coves at 610-1400 m (2000-4600 feet) elevation. Examples of this association have deciduous forest canopies dominated by either Acer saccharum, Aesculus flava, Fraxinus americana, Halesia tetraptera var. monticola, or Tilia americana var. heterophylla, or by various combinations of these species. Other common canopy species can include Carya cordiformis and Quercus rubra. A shrub stratum is very sparse or absent, and the herbaceous stratum is dense and luxurious, with high species richness. The defining feature of this association is the lush herbaceous flora with many calciphilic species indicative of high pH or circumneutral soils. Characteristic species include Asarum canadense, Carex plantaginea, Cymophyllus fraserianus, Cystopteris protrusa, Deparia acrostichoides, Diplazium pycnocarpon, Dryopteris goldiana, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta, Hydrophyllum canadense, Osmorhiza claytonii, Prosartes lanuginosa (= Disporum lanuginosum), Solidago flexicaulis, and Viola canadensis. The herbaceous stratum can have local dominance by Laportea canadensis, Viola canadensis, Dryopteris intermedia, Actaea podocarpa (= Cimicifuga americana), Actaea racemosa (= Cimicifuga racemosa), and Caulophyllum thalictroides. This forest lacks dominance by Betula alleghaniensis and Fagus grandifolia, and has an herbaceous flora indicative of high-base status soils. This association typically has a much more diverse herbaceous stratum than other deciduous cove forests of the Southern Blue Ridge.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association was originally defined for the richest cove forests in the Great Smoky Mountains and may need revision to apply more generally to similar forests in the Southern Blue Ridge. In the Smokies, relative dominance of canopy species varies among examples of this association. Some examples may have canopies strongly dominated by Halesia tetraptera var. monticola, while others have major canopy dominance by either Acer saccharum, Aesculus flava, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, or Fraxinus americana. Deciduous cove forests are perhaps the most complex group of communities to classify in the Southern Blue Ridge, due to a combination of wide environmental range, high species richness, and high biogeographic variability. The recognition of associations based on fertility and elevation is provisional and will likely need further refinement.

In a regional Southern Appalachian classification (1134 plots from Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia) for the Appalachian Trail project (Fleming and Patterson 2009a), 40 plots were classified as this association. Soils collected from these plots are generally strongly or moderately acidic (perhaps influenced by slow organic matter decomposition), but have high calcium and magnesium concentrations consistent with weathering from mafic and other base-rich rocks. The most constant (>70%) species with mean cover <1% in the 40 analyzed plots are Acer saccharum, Polystichum acrostichoides, Laportea canadensis, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Aesculus flava, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Fraxinus americana, Actaea racemosa, Prosartes lanuginosa, Viola canadensis, Osmorhiza claytonii, Dryopteris marginalis, Dryopteris intermedia, Hydrophyllum canadense, Impatiens pallida, and Carya cordiformis. The most diagnostic species (relative to similar types) are Hydrophyllum canadense, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Laportea canadensis, Viola canadensis var. canadensis, Astilbe biternata, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Solidago flexicaulis, and Aesculus flava. In both the Appalachian Trail analysis and a subsequent 1300-plot analysis of all Virginia montane upland forest and woodland vegetation (Fleming and Patterson 2009b), this type was clearly distinct from a group representing Liriodendron tulipifera - Fraxinus americana - (Aesculus flava) / Actaea racemosa - Laportea canadensis Forest (CEGL007710), a somewhat lower-elevation rich cove forest with abundant Liriodendron tulipifera. The latter is infrequent and rarely attains significant cover in this association (CEGL007695), which can be generally characterized as a "sugar maple-buckeye-basswood" forest.


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-Central Interior Mesic Forest
Alliance Southern Appalachian Mesophytic Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004973 Aesculus flava - Betula alleghaniensis - Acer saccharum / Caulophyllum thalictroides - Actaea podocarpa Forest
CEGL006237 Acer saccharum - Fraxinus americana - Tilia americana - Liriodendron tulipifera / Actaea racemosa Forest
CEGL006472 Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum / Cystopteris bulbifera - Asarum canadense Forest
CEGL007710 Liriodendron tulipifera - Fraxinus americana - (Aesculus flava) / Actaea racemosa - Laportea canadensis 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
Alabama Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum - (Fraxinus americana, Tilia americana var. heterophylla) / Hydrophyllum canadense - Solidago flexicaulis Forest Equivalent Certain ALNHP unpubl. data
North Carolina Rich Cove Forest (Montane Rich Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
Tennessee Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum - (Fraxinus americana, Tilia americana var. heterophylla) / Hydrophyllum canadense - Solidago flexicaulis Forest Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acer saccharum - Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Fraxinus americana / Actaea podocarpa - Sanicula odorata - (Phacelia fimbriata) Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.
Related Concept Name: Mixed Mesophytic Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Braun, E. L. 1950. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Hafner Press, New York. 596 pp.
Related Concept Name: Open Slope Mesophytic Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Rheinhardt, R. D., and S. A. Ware. 1984. The vegetation of the Balsam Mountains of southwestern Virginia: A phytosociological study. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 111:287-300.
Related Concept Name: Rich Cove / Slope Forest
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: Rich Cove Forest
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: Rich Cove Forest (Montane Rich Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Sugar Maple - Basswood: 26
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.373 Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (20Feb2010)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This community is naturally uncommon within its range due to specific habitat requirements. It only occurs in protected, concave topographic positions over high-base status soils in the Southern Blue Ridge, and adjacent parts of the Ridge and Valley and Cumberland Mountains - all regions with predominantly nutrient-poor (acidic) soils. Although relatively secure and not highly threatened today, most remaining examples of this community have been affected by past logging, thus much of the remaining acreage is not of high quality.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: AL, GA, NC, TN, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association occurs in the southern Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia. It likely ranges into the Blue Ridge of Georgia and extends peripherally into Virginia's Cumberland Mountains and Ridge and Valley.

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: Central Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: 221J 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: Possible
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: This association represents forests of medium- to high-elevation protected coves in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Tree canopies are dominated by variable mixtures of Acer saccharum, Aesculus flava, Fraxinus americana, Halesia tetraptera var. monticola, and Tilia americana var. heterophylla. In the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, relative dominance of canopy species varies from site to site, with some stands strongly dominated by Halesia tetraptera var. monticola. Other common canopy species are Carya cordiformis and Quercus rubra. The shrub layer is very sparse or absent, but the herb layer is dense and luxuriant, with relatively high species richness. A defining feature of this association is the lush herbaceous flora with many calciphilic species indicative of high pH or base-rich soils. Characteristic herbs include Asarum canadense, Carex plantaginea, Cymophyllus fraserianus, Cystopteris protrusa, Deparia acrostichoides, Diplazium pycnocarpon, Dryopteris goldiana, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta, Hydrophyllum canadense, Osmorhiza claytonii, Prosartes lanuginosa (= Disporum lanuginosum), Solidago flexicaulis, and Viola canadensis. The herb layer can also have local dominance by Laportea canadensis, Dryopteris intermedia, Actaea podocarpa (= Cimicifuga americana), Actaea racemosa (= Cimicifuga racemosa), Ageratina altissima, and Caulophyllum thalictroides. This association typically has a much more diverse herbaceous stratum than other deciduous cove forests of the Southern Blue Ridge. Virginia stands of this association entirely lack Halesia tetraptera var. monticola and are dominated by Acer saccharum, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Fraxinus americana, and Aesculus flava. The most abundant herbs recorded in Virginia plots are Laportea canadensis, Actaea racemosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Impatiens pallida, Trillium sulcatum, Hydrophyllum canadense, Hydrophyllum macrophyllum, Viola canadensis, Dicentra canadensis, and Delphinium tricorne. Many additional herbs occur at low cover. Species richness in plots south of Virginia ranges from 35-94 taxa (mean = 58) per 1000-m2 plot (n = 30 plots). Species richness in 13 400-m2 plots from Virginia ranges from 33-60 taxa (mean = 46).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Aesculus flava G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus americana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Halesia tetraptera var. monticola G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tilia americana var. heterophylla G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Aconitum reclinatum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Actaea podocarpa G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Asarum canadense G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Cardamine flagellifera G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Caulophyllum thalictroides G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Coreopsis latifolia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Diphylleia cymosa G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hepatica nobilis var. acuta G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Hydrophyllum canadense G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Impatiens pallida G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Micranthes caroliniana G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Phacelia fimbriata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Prenanthes roanensis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Rudbeckia laciniata var. humilis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sanicula odorata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Silene ovata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Stachys nuttallii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Trillium rugelii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Trillium simile G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Trillium sulcatum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola pubescens G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Asplenium rhizophyllum G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Deparia acrostichoides G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Aconitum reclinatum
  (White Monkshood)
G3  
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis
  (Appalachian White Snakeroot)
G5T3T4  
Cardamine flagellifera
  (Blue Ridge Bittercress)
G3  
Coreopsis latifolia
  (Broadleaf Tickseed)
G3  
Micranthes caroliniana
  (Carolina Saxifrage)
G3  
Prenanthes roanensis
  (Roan Mountain Rattlesnake-root)
G3  
Rudbeckia laciniata var. humilis
  (Appalachian Black-eyed-Susan)
G5T3?  
Silene ovata
  (Ovate Catchfly)
G3  
Trillium rugelii
  (Southern Nodding Trillium)
G3  
Trillium simile
  (Jeweled Wakerobin)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: In the southern part of its range, this vegetation type occurs on protected, concave landforms, at elevations ranging from 610-1400 m (2000-4600 feet). It is associated with nutrient-rich soils and often with mafic substrates, occurring on steep, middle to lower, protected slopes and in coves. In Virginia, the type is restricted to an elevational range from about 760-1220 m (-2500-4000 feet). Virginia sites supporting this community are on strongly concave, moderately steep (mean = 17) slopes with north to east aspects. Underlying bedrock includes igneous metamorphic formations in the Blue Ridge, and calcareous shale, calcareous mudstone, and calcareous sandstone in the Ridge and Valley and Cumberland Mountains. Surface cover of bedrock and boulders ranges from 0-35%. Dark, apparently fertile, loamy soils at plot sampling sites are moderately acidic (mean pH = 5.6) but have high levels of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and total base saturation.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson
Element Description Edition Date: 20Feb2010
Element Description Author(s): G. Fleming and P. Coulling
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20Feb2010
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
  • ALNHP [Alabama Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data on file. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Auburn University.

  • Braun, E. L. 1950. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Hafner Press, New York. 596 pp.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 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. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. 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 P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.

  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • Patterson, K. D., C. J. Ulrey, and J. Drake. 1999. Vegetation classification of Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Cades Cove and Mount Le Conte quadrangles. Unpublished report submitted to BRD-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. The Nature Conservancy, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • 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.

  • Rheinhardt, R. D., and S. A. Ware. 1984. The vegetation of the Balsam Mountains of southwestern Virginia: A phytosociological study. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 111:287-300.

  • Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 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.

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

  • VDNH [Virginia Division of Natural Heritage]. 2003. The natural communities of Virginia: Hierarchical classification of community types. Unpublished document, working list of November 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Ecology Group, Richmond.


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