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Juniperus virginiana / Schizachyrium scoparium - (Andropogon gerardii, Sorghastrum nutans) - Silphium terebinthinaceum Wooded Grassland
Translated Name: Eastern Red-cedar / Little Bluestem - (Big Bluestem, Indiangrass) - Prairie Rosinweed Wooded Grassland
Common Name: Moulton & Tennessee Valley Limestone Hill Barrens
Unique Identifier: CEGL004738
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These red-cedar / little bluestem limestone barrens have been observed on Silurian exposures of Decatur and Perry counties, Tennessee (Western Highland Rim in the Western Valley of the Tennessee River) and Mississippian exposures of the Moulton Valley of Colbert and Franklin counties of northern Alabama. The Tennessee examples occur on slopes of Silurian geology, of the Brownsport, Dixon, and Beech River formations. Two phases of this vegetation have been observed. Areas presumably of deeper soil are dominated by Andropogon gerardii, Sorghastrum nutans, and Schizachyrium scoparium. Other forbs dominant to present in this phase include Liatris aspera, Silphium terebinthinaceum, Silphium trifoliatum var. latifolium, and Brickellia eupatorioides. This vegetation covers extensive areas at one site, where very old, gnarled Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana are present at a cover of 15-20%, Mortality and/or morbidity caused by drought maintains the tree cover at below 20% even in fire-suppressed examples. This phase grades into areas of shallower soil with a sparser grass cover (about 50%), composed primarily of Schizachyrium scoparium. Also present in this more common Schizachyrium-dominated phase are Liatris cylindracea, Physostegia virginiana ssp. praemorsa, Ruellia humilis, annual Sporobolus sp., Symphyotrichum concolor (= Aster concolor), Symphyotrichum shortii (= Aster shortii), and Heliotropium tenellum. Up to 50% of the ground surface in the drier phase may be covered by red or gray fossiliferous gravel in the Tennessee examples, or by shaly, "marly" limestone fragments in Moulton Valley, Alabama, ones. State-rare plants in Tennessee examples (disjunct from farther west) include Liatris cylindracea, Symphyotrichum pratense (= Aster pratensis) and Salvia azurea var. grandiflora. Alabama examples (but not Tennessee ones as far as known) may contain the globally rare Eriogonum longifolium var. harperi, and may locally grade down into small seepages with Schoenolirion croceum [see Eleocharis (bifida, compressa) - Schoenolirion croceum - Carex crawei - Allium cernuum Seep Grassland (CEGL004169)]. The Tennessee sites are among the most extensive areas of Silurian surface geology in the unglaciated continental United States.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This or a closely related type occurs in Virginia on hillside calcareous glades (G. Fleming pers. comm.). This type has been compared with related vegetation in Alabama and Kentucky and its range extended. Interpretations of physiographic and ecoregional boundaries are conflicting and controversial in northwestern Alabama. This association is indisputably one which occurs on Mississippian or older strata (e.g., sedimentary limestones and soils derived from them), not on cretaceous clays. Despite this, there are some occurrences within the boundary of TNC Ecoregion 43 (Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain). Even at the finer scale of the map in Webb et al. (1997), two nearby sites are shown to occur in different "subsections" when the substrates appear to be identical in the field. The type should probably be treated as "peripheral" in Ecoregion 43.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.B - Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland
Formation 2.B.2 - Temperate Grassland & Shrubland
Division 2.B.2.Nc - Eastern North American Grassland & Shrubland
Macrogroup Central Interior Calcareous Scrub & Grassland
Group Central Interior Alkaline Open Glade & Barrens
Alliance Little Bluestem Perennial Grass Glade

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL005134 Quercus stellata - Quercus marilandica / Schizachyrium scoparium - Silphium terebinthinaceum Wooded Grassland



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 Juniperus virginiana / Schizachyrium scoparium - (Andropogon gerardii, Sorghastrum nutans) - Silphium (trifoliatum, terebinthinaceum) Wooded Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Schotz pers. comm.
Tennessee Juniperus virginiana / Schizachyrium scoparium - (Andropogon gerardii, Sorghastrum nutans) - Silphium (trifoliatum, terebinthinaceum) Wooded Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: IE10a. Interior Upland Limestone Barren
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
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: Limestone / Dolomite Barren
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: Limestone Barrens of WHR
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: DeSelm, H. R. 1988. The barrens of the western Highland Rim of Tennessee. Pages 199-219 in: D. H. Snyder, editor. Proceedings of the first annual symposium on the natural history of the lower Tennessee and Cumberland river valleys. Austin Peay St. University, Center for Field Biology, Clarksville, TN.
Related Concept Name: Limestone Prairie Barren
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Webb, D. H., W. M. Dennis, and A. L. Bates. 1988a. An analysis of the plant community of mudflats of TVA mainstream reservoirs. Pages 177-198 in: D. H. Snyder, editor. Proceedings of first annual symposium on the natural history of the lower Tennessee and Cumberland river valleys. Austin Peay St. University, Clarksville, TN. 328 pp.
Related Concept Name: Marl Barrens
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Hilton, J. L. 1997. North Alabama Glade Study. Report prepared for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Montgomery. 96 pp. plus appendices.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.691 Central Interior Highlands Calcareous Glade and Barrens


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (31Jan2007)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This vegetation type is apparently restricted to very specific substrates in a limited range. The global range is estimated to be about 1500 square km (600 square miles). This includes not more than 500 square km (200 square miles) in Tennessee and a similar area in Alabama. The complete range in Kentucky is not known but is probably about the same. There are about 5 element occurrences in Tennessee. There are only 2 or 3 in Alabama, which are highly threatened. The known Kentucky examples are limited and small in size. Even the largest sites are only from 5 to 10 acres in extent. Until very recently, most examples were undisturbed, as they had little or no commercial value. Recent economic activity near these sites is beginning to impact them. Threats include mining of limestone and gravel, conversion to pasture, effects of nearby timber removal, and dumping of refuse and logging debris. The condition and protection of this type vary across its range. Some Tennessee sites are relatively intact, but some are very poorly buffered. The few Alabama sites are under immediate threat.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: AL, KY, TN, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The global range is estimated to be about 1500 square km (600 square miles). This includes not more than 500 square km. (200 square miles) in Tennessee and a similar area in Alabama. The complete range in Kentucky is not known but is probably about the same.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Continental) Province
Province Code: 222 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
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 231 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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Two phases of this vegetation have been observed. Areas presumably of deeper soil are dominated by Andropogon gerardii, Sorghastrum nutans, and Schizachyrium scoparium. Other forbs dominant to present in this phase include Liatris aspera, Silphium terebinthinaceum, Silphium trifoliatum var. latifolium, and Brickellia eupatorioides. This vegetation covers extensive areas at one site, where very old, gnarled Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana are present at a cover of 15-20%. Mortality and/or morbidity caused by drought maintains the tree cover at below 20% even in fire-suppressed examples. This phase grades into areas of shallower soil with a sparser grass cover (about 50%), composed primarily of Schizachyrium scoparium. Also present in this more common Schizachyrium-dominated phase are Liatris cylindracea, Physostegia virginiana ssp. praemorsa, Ruellia humilis, annual Sporobolus sp., Symphyotrichum concolor (= Aster concolor), Symphyotrichum shortii (= Aster shortii), and Heliotropium tenellum. State-rare plants in Tennessee examples (disjunct from farther west) include Liatris cylindracea, Symphyotrichum pratense (= Aster pratensis) and Salvia azurea var. grandiflora. Alabama examples (but not Tennessee ones as far as known) may contain the globally rare Eriogonum longifolium var. harperi, and may locally grade down into small seepages with Schoenolirion croceum.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Eriogonum longifolium var. harperi G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Liatris cylindracea G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Salvia azurea var. grandiflora G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Silphium terebinthinaceum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Silphium trifoliatum var. latifolium G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Symphyotrichum pratense G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Andropogon gerardii G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Sorghastrum nutans G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Eriogonum longifolium var. harperi
  (Harper's Umbrella-plant)
G4T2  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: These Juniperus - Schizachyrium limestone barrens have been observed on Silurian exposures of Decatur and Perry counties, Tennessee (Western Highland Rim in the Western Valley of the Tennessee River), and Mississippian exposures of the Moulton Valley of Colbert and Franklin counties of northern Alabama. The Tennessee examples occur on slopes of Silurian Brownsport, Dixon, and Beech River formations. Up to 50% of the ground surface in the drier phase may be covered by red or gray fossiliferous gravel in the Tennessee examples, or by shaly, "marly" limestone fragments in the ones in Moulton Valley, Alabama.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This vegetation may cover extensive areas. Very old, gnarled Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana are present at a cover of 15 to 20%. Mortality and/or morbidity caused by drought maintains the tree cover at below 20% even in fire-suppressed examples.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M. Pyne
Element Description Edition Date: 01Jul1997
Element Description Author(s): M. Pyne
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 31Jan2007
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.

  • Baskin, J. M., D. H. Webb, and C. C. Baskin. 1995. A floristic plant ecology study of the limestone glades of northern Alabama. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 122 (3):226-242.

  • DeSelm, H. R. 1988. The barrens of the western Highland Rim of Tennessee. Pages 199-219 in: D. H. Snyder, editor. Proceedings of the first annual symposium on the natural history of the lower Tennessee and Cumberland river valleys. Austin Peay St. University, Center for Field Biology, Clarksville, TN.

  • 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. 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.

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

  • Hilton, J. L. 1997. North Alabama Glade Study. Report prepared for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Montgomery. 96 pp. plus appendices.

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

  • 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.

  • Webb, D. H., W. M. Dennis, and A. L. Bates. 1988a. An analysis of the plant community of mudflats of TVA mainstream reservoirs. Pages 177-198 in: D. H. Snyder, editor. Proceedings of first annual symposium on the natural history of the lower Tennessee and Cumberland river valleys. Austin Peay St. University, Clarksville, TN. 328 pp.


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