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Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest
Translated Name: Chestnut Oak - Northern Red Oak / Great Laurel / Beetleweed Forest
Common Name: Chestnut Oak Forest (Mesic Slope Heath Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL006286
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This forest is known from protected, usually steep slopes in the Southern Blue Ridge and ranges into adjacent areas of the upper Piedmont to the east and the Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley to the west. In the southern portion of its range (Southern Blue Ridge), it usually occurs on north-facing slopes, while in the northern part of its range (the Cumberlands in West Virginia), most sites have southerly to westerly aspects. This is typically a midslope to lower slope type, but it can be found on upper slopes in a more sheltered position. This forest is found at elevations between 760 and 1220 m (2500-4000 feet) in the Southern Blue Ridge and at somewhat lower elevations (200-600 m) in the Cumberland Plateau. Canopies in these forests are dominated by Quercus prinus, usually with lesser amounts of Quercus rubra and/or Acer rubrum, and always occurring over a dense, very tall shrub stratum (2-6 m) of Rhododendron maximum. In some examples, this community may also be codominated or dominated by Quercus velutina, Quercus alba, or Betula lenta. Additional trees with lower constancy and cover in the canopy and subcanopy include Tsuga canadensis, Oxydendrum arboreum, Fagus grandifolia, and Nyssa sylvatica. On some sites, Tsuga canadensis may have dense understory regeneration. In some areas of the Southern Blue Ridge, Rhododendron minus may dominate the shrub layer. Other common shrubs can include Gaylussacia ursina (in the Southern Blue Ridge), Kalmia latifolia, Smilax rotundifolia, Ilex opaca var. opaca, and/or Hamamelis virginiana. Herbs are sparse. The ground cover is dominated by leaf litter, but Galax urceolata is found in most occurrences except at the northern limit of this type's range in West Virginia. Other herb species that can be typical include Chimaphila maculata, Goodyera pubescens, Polystichum acrostichoides, Maianthemum racemosum, Solidago caesia, Mitchella repens, Eurybia divaricata, Dryopteris marginalis, and Dioscorea quaternata. Some examples may have sparse (woodland-like) canopies and occur in association with rock outcroppings. Vascular plant species richness in seven 400-square-meter West Virginia plots ranges from 12 to 49 taxa (mean = 30.1).



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is more protected and more mesic than Quercus (prinus, coccinea) / Kalmia latifolia / (Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens) Forest (CEGL006271). It occurs at lower elevations and on more protected topographic positions than Quercus rubra / (Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron maximum) / Galax urceolata Forest (CEGL007299). It is much less diverse than Quercus prinus - (Quercus rubra) - Carya spp. / Oxydendrum arboreum - Cornus florida Forest (CEGL007267), lacking the diverse herbaceous and woody components found in that association. Stands similar to this association but with significant cover by Tsuga canadensis in the canopy layers are classified as Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest (CEGL007543).

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 Appalachian Oak / Chestnut Forest
Alliance Mesic Chestnut Oak - Northern Red Oak Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006271 Quercus (prinus, coccinea) / Kalmia latifolia / (Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens) Forest
CEGL007267 Quercus prinus - (Quercus rubra) - Carya spp. / Oxydendrum arboreum - Cornus florida Forest
CEGL007299 Quercus rubra / (Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron maximum) / Galax urceolata Forest
CEGL007543 Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest
CEGL008524 Quercus prinus / Rhododendron catawbiense - Kalmia latifolia Forest
CEGL008558 Acer rubrum var. rubrum - Betula lenta - Magnolia fraseri / (Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia) Ruderal 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
North Carolina Chestnut Oak Forest (Mesic Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Quercus montana - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest
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: Chestnut Oak 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: Chestnut Oak Forest (Rhododendron Subtype)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Chestnut Oak: 44
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: IA6d. Chestnut Oak Slope and Ridge 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: Oak / Heath 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.886 Southern Appalachian Oak Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (22Feb2010)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: This community is uncommon, but not rare, throughout most of its range. As currently defined, it is a regional endemic, found only in the Southern Blue Ridge and adjacent regions of the upper Piedmont and Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley. This community is often overlooked or not distinguished separately in inventories; thus, it is more common than the number of documented occurrences suggests.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs in the Southern Blue Ridge of northeastern Georgia, northwestern South Carolina, north through eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southwestern Virginia. It extends into the Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. Its range also extends into the upper Piedmont of North Carolina.

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: 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: Canopies in these forests are dominated by Quercus prinus, usually with lesser amounts of Quercus rubra and/or Acer rubrum, and always occurring over a dense, very tall shrub stratum (2-6 m) of Rhododendron maximum. In some examples, this community may also be codominated or dominated by Quercus velutina, Quercus alba, or Betula lenta. Additional trees with lower constancy and cover in the canopy and subcanopy include Tsuga canadensis, Oxydendrum arboreum, Fagus grandifolia, and Nyssa sylvatica. On some sites, Tsuga canadensis may have dense understory regeneration. In some areas of the Southern Blue Ridge, Rhododendron minus may dominate the shrub layer. Other common shrubs can include Gaylussacia ursina (in the Southern Blue Ridge), Kalmia latifolia, Smilax rotundifolia, Ilex opaca var. opaca, and/or Hamamelis virginiana. Herbs are sparse. The ground cover is dominated by leaf litter, but Galax urceolata is found in most occurrences except at the northern limit of this type's range in West Virginia. Other herb species that can be typical include Chimaphila maculata, Goodyera pubescens, Polystichum acrostichoides, Maianthemum racemosum, Solidago caesia, Mitchella repens, Eurybia divaricata, Dryopteris marginalis, and Dioscorea quaternata. Some examples may have sparse (woodland-like) canopies and occur in association with rock outcroppings. Vascular plant species richness in seven 400-square-meter WV plots ranges from 12 to 49 taxa (mean = 30.1).

In the Great Smoky Mountains, this community is found consistently as a transitional band of vegetation, downslope from drier Quercus prinus ridgetop forests, Quercus (prinus, coccinea) / Kalmia latifolia / (Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens) Forest (CEGL006271), and grading into acidic cove forests, Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest (CEGL007543), on the steep ravines below. At Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and the Gauley River National Recreation Area, it can grade into mixed mesophytic forests (CEGL005222) as well.


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Quercus alba G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Quercus prinus G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy
 
 
Quercus rubra G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus velutina G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga caroliniana G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Rhododendron maximum G4 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tall shrub/sapling
 
 
Chimaphila maculata G4 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Galax urceolata G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Trillium rugelii G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polystichum acrostichoides G4 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
Trillium rugelii
  (Southern Nodding Trillium)
G3  
Tsuga caroliniana
  (Carolina Hemlock)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This forest is known from protected, usually steep slopes in the Southern Blue Ridge and ranges into adjacent areas of the upper Piedmont to the east and the Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley to the west. In the southern portion of its range (Southern Blue Ridge), it usually occurs on north-facing slopes, while in the northern part of its range (the Cumberlands in WV), most sites have southerly to westerly aspects. This is typically a midslope to lower slope type, but it can be found on upper slopes in a more sheltered position. This forest is found at elevations between 760 and 1220 m (2500-4000 feet) in the Southern Blue Ridge and at somewhat lower elevations (200-600 m) in the Cumberland Plateau. Soils in WV plots are described as well- to rapidly-drained, dry to somewhat moist sandy loam and sandy clay loam that test very strongly to extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.20). Soils of some sites may be classified as folists, characterized by deep organic horizons (duff) over bouldery colluvium.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): S. Simon and K.D. Patterson
Element Description Edition Date: 01Apr2010
Element Description Author(s): K.D. Patterson, R. White and S.C. Gawler
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 22Feb2010
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
  • 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.

  • 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., 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. 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. 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Schafale, Mike P. Personal communication. Ecologist, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Simon, Steve. Personal communication. Ecologist. USDA Forest Service, National Forests in North Carolina, Asheville, NC.

  • 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.

  • Vanderhorst, J. P., B. P. Streets, Z. Arcaro, and S. C. Gawler. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping at Gauley River National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2010/148. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.

  • White, Jr., R. D. 2003. Vascular plant inventory and plant community classification for Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 160 pp.

  • White, R. D., Jr. 2006. Vascular plant inventory and ecological community classification for Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 246 pp.


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