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Nyssa biflora / Itea virginica - Cephalanthus occidentalis Swamp Forest
Translated Name: Swamp Tupelo / Virginia Sweetspire - Common Buttonbush Swamp Forest
Common Name: Swamp Tupelo Depression Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL007434
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community occupies peaty or mucky, acidic, semipermanently wet depressions in the Atlantic and East Gulf coastal plains. This community is strongly dominated by Nyssa biflora. Other bottomland species, including Taxodium distichum and Taxodium ascendens, may also be present, but combined usually contribute less than 30% of the canopy. Shrubs are scarce to scattered on hummocks and become more common with peat accumulation. Shrub species include Itea virginica and Cephalanthus occidentalis, with Clethra alnifolia, Lyonia lucida, Cliftonia monophylla, and Cyrilla racemiflora being common in the East Gulf and Atlantic coastal plains. Floating logs and stumps provide habitat for the sparse herbaceous stratum. Species include Woodwardia virginica, Woodwardia areolata, Osmunda cinnamomea, Eriocaulon spp., Xyris spp., Rhynchospora spp., Schoenoplectus spp. (= Scirpus spp.), and Juncus spp. The moderately to strongly acidic sandy soils are overlain by organic muck and leaf litter. This community occurs in depressions on the Coastal Plain of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi; and sparingly on the Piedmont of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: The closed Nyssa biflora canopy in this forest seems to allow less light penetration than in Taxodium swamps (Clewell 1971, Wharton et al. 1976, 1982). This community can be distinguished from other peatland communities by the dominance of Nyssa biflora, typically a swamp species (Schafale and Weakley 1990). In Virginia, where related vegetation is relatively uncommon and in a restricted geography, it is treated as Taxodium distichum - Nyssa aquatica - Nyssa biflora / Fraxinus caroliniana / Itea virginica Floodplain Forest (CEGL007432).

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.Nb - Southeastern North American Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Southern Coastal Plain Basin Swamp & Flatwoods
Group Coastal Plain Hardwood Basin Swamp
Alliance Coastal Plain Tupelo Depression Swamp Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004720 Nyssa biflora / Ilex myrtifolia / Carex glaucescens - Eriocaulon compressum Swamp Forest
CEGL006223 Liquidambar styraciflua - Acer rubrum - Nyssa biflora / Carex joorii Swamp Forest
CEGL007390 Nyssa biflora - Quercus laurifolia / Sphagnum spp. Riparian Forest
CEGL007420 Taxodium ascendens / (Nyssa biflora) / Leucothoe racemosa - Lyonia lucida - Morella cerifera Swamp 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 Nyssa biflora / Itea virginica - Cephalanthus occidentalis Depression Forest Equivalent Certain Schotz pers. comm.
Florida Basin Swamp Intersects   FNAI 1997
Florida Dome Swamp Intersects   FNAI 1997
Louisiana Tupelo-Blackgum Swamp Broader   Smith 1996
Mississippi Grady Pond Swamp Forest Undetermined   Wieland 1994
South Carolina Swamp Tupelo Pond Undetermined   Nelson 1986


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Blackgum Swamp, Back Water Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Clewell, A. F. 1981. Natural setting and vegetation of the Florida Panhandle: An account of the environments and plant communities of northern Florida west of the Suwannee River. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mobile, AL. 773 pp.
Related Concept Name: Blackgum Swamps
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Clewell, A. F. 1971. The vegetation of the Apalachicola National Forest: An ecological perspective. Unpublished document. USDA Forest Service, Tallahassee, FL. 152 pp.
Related Concept Name: Gum Swamp
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Smith, L. M., compiler. 1996a. Natural plant communities in Louisiana currently recognized by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished document. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 2 pp.
Related Concept Name: IIA10b. Swamp Tupelo Pond Forest
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: Nonriverine Swamp Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Oberholster, C. 1993. Preliminary list of natural communities of Alabama. Unpublished document. Alabama Department Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Section, Montgomery, AL. 6 pp.
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: Pond Cypress Pond Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.
Related Concept Name: Small Depression Swamp (Mixed Subtype)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Water Tupelo - Swamp Tupelo: 103
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.
Related Concept Name: Water Tupelo-Swamp Tupelo
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.262 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Depression Pond
CES203.489 East Gulf Coastal Plain Large River Floodplain Forest
CES203.558 East Gulf Coastal Plain Depression Pond


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (15Oct2002)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This is an uncommon but not inherently rare forest type. It is widely distributed, but is restricted to a limited set of environmental conditions. Some examples are protected on public land. Occurrences are directly threatened by hydrologic alteration. Many examples are poorly buffered and suffer from upslope land-use change, timber removal, or conversion of upslope forests to managed forest types.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs in depressions on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, and sparingly on the Piedmont of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. It may also occur in the eastern portions of Louisiana.

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: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Florida Coastal Lowlands (Western) Section
Section Code: 232D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Western Gulf Section
Section Code: 232F Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This community is strongly dominated by Nyssa biflora. Other bottomland species, including Taxodium distichum and Taxodium ascendens, may occur but combined usually contribute less than 30% of the canopy. Shrubs are scarce to scattered on hummocks and become more common with peat accumulation. Shrub species include Itea virginica and Cephalanthus occidentalis, with Clethra alnifolia, Lyonia lucida, Cliftonia monophylla, and Cyrilla racemiflora being common in the East Gulf and Atlantic coastal plains. On Apalachicola National Forest at Morrison Hammock, Magnolia virginiana, Gordonia lasianthus, Ilex coriacea, Ilex myrtifolia, Pinus taeda, and Ilex cassine were also present at low cover values (NatureServe Ecology unpubl. data). Floating logs and stumps provide habitat for the sparse herbaceous stratum. Species include Woodwardia virginica, Woodwardia areolata, Osmunda cinnamomea, Eriocaulon spp., Xyris spp., Rhynchospora spp., Schoenoplectus spp. (= Scirpus spp.), and Juncus spp. The rare plants Rhynchospora inundata, Rhynchospora tracyi, Heteranthera reniformis, Rhexia aristosa, and Ilex amelanchier may be found in South Carolina (Nelson 1986).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Nyssa biflora G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Ilex amelanchier G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Pieris phillyreifolia G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Cephalanthus occidentalis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Cyrilla racemiflora G3 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Clethra alnifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Itea virginica G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Lyonia lucida G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Oxypolis canbyi G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Rhexia aristosa G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Rhynchospora inundata G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Rhynchospora tracyi G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Heteranthera reniformis G3 Aquatic herb Floating aquatic      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Oxypolis canbyi
  (Canby's Dropwort)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Pieris phillyreifolia
  (Climbing Fetterbush)
G3  
Rhexia aristosa
  (Awned Meadowbeauty)
G3G4  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This community occupies peaty or mucky, acidic, semipermanently wet depressions in the Atlantic and East Gulf coastal plains. This forest receives hydrologic inputs through seepage, and where associated with small drainages, occasional flooding. The moderately to strongly acidic sandy soils are overlain by organic muck and leaf litter, and generally underlain by clay (Clewell 1971, Wharton et al. 1976, 1982, Smith 1995a). The depressions in which this vegetation can be found may be located in floodplains.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Due to the increased hydroperiod, this community burns less frequently than cypress swamps (Wharton et al. 1976); fire is also more destructive to Nyssa biflora than it is to Taxodium ascendens (Clewell 1971, 1981).

Nyssa biflora increases the soil calcium content, and calcium favors the growth of Nyssa biflora over that of Taxodium ascendens. Therefore, pond-cypress swamps which contain Nyssa biflora may succeed to a Nyssa biflora-dominated community (Clewell 1971, 1981). Another theory suggests that blackgum would succeed cypress in the absence of peat accumulation (Wharton et al. 1976), presumably due to the tolerance of Nyssa biflora for the long hydroperiod. In addition, Nyssa biflora may replace Taxodium ascendens in the absence of fire (Nelson 1986). Some Nyssa biflora-dominated swamps may be a result of past Taxodium ascendens logging.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): J.E. Mohan
Element Description Edition Date: 01Jan2013
Element Description Author(s): J.E. Mohan
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 15Oct2002
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
  • ALNHP [Alabama Natural Heritage Program]. 2002. Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge: Natural community and rare plant survey. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Montgomery.

  • 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.

  • Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.

  • Burns, R. M., and B. H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990b. Silvics of North America. Volume 2: Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 877 pp.

  • Clewell, A. F. 1971. The vegetation of the Apalachicola National Forest: An ecological perspective. Unpublished document. USDA Forest Service, Tallahassee, FL. 152 pp.

  • Clewell, A. F. 1981. Natural setting and vegetation of the Florida Panhandle: An account of the environments and plant communities of northern Florida west of the Suwannee River. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mobile, AL. 773 pp.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 1992b. Natural community classification. Unpublished document. The Nature Conservancy, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee. 16 pp.

  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 2010a. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: 2010 edition. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, FL.

  • LNHP [Louisiana Natural Heritage Program]. 2009. Natural communities of Louisiana. Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Baton Rouge. 46 pp. [http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/page_wildlife/6776-Rare%20Natural%20Communities/LA_NAT_COM.pdf]

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

  • Nelson, J. B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina: Initial classification and description. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Columbia, SC. 55 pp.

  • Oberholster, C. 1993. Preliminary list of natural communities of Alabama. Unpublished document. Alabama Department Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Section, Montgomery, AL. 6 pp.

  • 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.

  • Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina 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.

  • Schotz, Al. Personal communication. Community Ecologist. Alabama Natural Heritage Program. Huntingdon College, Massey Hall, 1500 East Fairview Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36106-2148.

  • Smith, L. M. 1995a. Baseline information for the rare natural communities of Louisiana. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 24 pp. plus maps.

  • Smith, L. M., compiler. 1996a. Natural plant communities in Louisiana currently recognized by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished document. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 2 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.

  • Wharton, C. H., H. T. Odum, K. Ewel, M. Duever, A. Lugo, R. Boyt, J. Bartolomew, E. DeBellevue, S. Brown, M. Brown, and L. Duever. 1976. Forested wetlands of Florida - their management and use. University of Florida, Center for Wetlands. 421 pp.

  • Wharton, C. H., W. M. Kitchens, E. C. Pendleton, and T. W. Sipe. 1982. The ecology of bottomland hardwood swamps of the Southeast: A community profile. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Services. FWS/OBS-81/37. Washington, DC.

  • Wieland, R. G. 1994b. Mississippi Natural Heritage Program: Ecological communities. Unpublished document. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Museum of Natural Science, Natural Heritage Program, Jackson, MS. 7 pp.


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