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Thuja occidentalis - Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Carex eburnea Cliff Woodland
Translated Name: Northern White-cedar - Eastern White Pine - Eastern Hemlock / Bristleleaf Sedge Cliff Woodland
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Northern White-cedar Slope Woodland
Unique Identifier: CEGL008426
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This is essentially a mixed coniferous-deciduous woodland of the Southern and Central Appalachians, with each component contributing approximately 50% of the canopy cover. Thuja occidentalis and Pinus strobus are codominant in these samples, with Tsuga canadensis a less abundant associate. A variety of hardwoods co-occur, the most constant and abundant of which are Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus alba, and Quercus rubra. Habitats are on moderately steep to steep (mean = 31), convex, west-northwest-facing slopes at relatively low elevation (mean = 521 m [1710 feet]). These slopes, situated in major stream and river valleys, are geomorphic products of long-term stream incision. Bedrock parent material at one site is interbedded limestone and sandstone of Silurian age; at another site is underlain by Ordovician limestone. Soils at both sites are evidently colluvial and have a neutral pH. The soil moisture regime was assessed as mesic at both sites, but tends toward the submesic end of this moisture class. This community type is extremely rare in Virginia, where it is known only from the two plot-sampled stands and two putative locations in Montgomery and Russell counties, all in the Ridge and Valley province. Patches of this vegetation are very small (0.1-1.0 ha), and additional occurrences are likely in suitable western Virginia habitats. Young reproduction of all three conifers (Thuja occidentalis, Pinus strobus, and Tsuga canadensis) dominates the understory layers; Sassafras albidum is also a constant understory tree, and Amelanchier arborea codominates in one plot. Hamamelis virginiana and young Tsuga canadensis dominate the shrub layer of one plot each. Other constant but low cover shrubs are Dirca palustris and Viburnum acerifolium. Tree height is variable from occurrence to occurrence. Herbaceous growth is sparse (mean stratum cover = 24%) and patchy. Many herbaceous species and woody seedlings occur at low cover. The most important herbaceous species include Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Brachyelytrum erectum, Chamaelirium luteum, Collinsonia canadensis, Dioscorea quaternata, Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa (= Hepatica americana), Solidago arguta, Solidago curtisii, and Uvularia perfoliata.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This community is extremely rare in Virginia, where it is known only from three plot-sampled stands and two putative locations in Montgomery and Russell counties, all in the Ridge and Valley province. Patches of this vegetation are very small (0.1-1.0 ha), and additional occurrences are likely in suitable western Virginia habitats. The type may also occur in adjacent states. Similar mixed forests of Thuja occidentalis with Tsuga canadensis and/or Pinus strobus were described qualitatively by Walker (1987) from the Eastern Highland Rim, Ridge and Valley, and low Blue Ridge provinces of Tennessee. This type is based primarily on three plot samples from Giles and Rockbridge counties, Virginia. In the Ridge and Valley of Virginia, Thuja occidentalis communities occur in two situations; on rocky bluffs with admixtures of hardwood species (classified elsewhere) and on mesic slopes with Tsuga canadensis and Pinus strobus (Fleming 1999) (placed in this association). Southern Thuja stands are more genetically diverse than northern populations (Walker 1987). This association is now recognized as distinct from open-canopy Thuja communities of the Central Appalachians because of excellent documentation provided by Fleming (1999). Additional assessment of Thuja stands in adjacent areas will be needed to understand their relationship to documented stands that are the basis for this community type.

Thuja occidentalis - Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Carex eburnea Cliff Woodland (CEGL008426) is readily distinguished from all other calcareous forests in Virginia by its strong coniferous component, particularly Thuja occidentalis. It is distinguished from Thuja occidentalis / Carex eburnea - Pellaea atropurpurea Cliff Woodland (CEGL002596) by its occurrence on relatively mesic slopes with few rock outcrops (vs. shrubland or sparse woodland physiognomy and occurrence on exposed, xeric cliffs and outcrops). Despite having sparse herbaceous cover, this community type has a mean species richness (n=60) comparable to other units in the Dry and Dry-Mesic Calcareous Forests. Both sampled plots contain interesting mixtures of calcium-demanding plants and plants more characteristically associated with acidic habitats. It is possible that bedrock melanges and abundant needle litter from the three dominant conifers contribute to microtopographic variation in the soil environments of these areas. Noteworthy calciphiles include Berberis canadensis, Galium boreale, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta (= Hepatica acutiloba), Melanthium latifolium, Polygala senega, Quercus muehlenbergii, and Thuja occidentalis; species with stronger affiliation to acidic soils include Gaultheria procumbens, Hexastylis virginica, Oxydendrum arboreum, Polygala paucifolia, Quercus coccinea, Rhododendron maximum, and Spiraea betulifolia var. corymbosa. This community type needs additional inventory, and its classification must be considered provisional pending additional plot sampling and analysis. The two tentatively assigned stands in Montgomery and Russell counties have somewhat different compositions than the plots documented here. The Montgomery County occurrence, dominated by Thuja, Pinus strobus, Quercus muehlenbergii, Hamamelis virginiana, and Cornus florida, occupies a somewhat drier dolomitic habitat and approaches woodland physiognomy. The Russell County stand is a closed-canopy, mesic Thuja forest with scattered Tsuga canadensis. Similar mixed forests of Thuja occidentalis with Tsuga canadensis and / or Pinus strobus were described qualitatively by Walker (1987) from the Eastern Highland Rim, Ridge and Valley, and low Blue Ridge provinces of Tennessee.


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 Northeastern Chinquapin Oak - Red-cedar Alkaline Forest & Woodland
Alliance Appalachian White-cedar Limestone Cliff Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL002596 Thuja occidentalis / Carex eburnea - Pellaea atropurpurea Cliff 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
Tennessee Thuja occidentalis - Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Carex eburnea Woodland Equivalent Certain TDNH unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Thuja occidentalis - Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Carex eburnea Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]
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]
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: Thuja occidentalis - Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Dirca palustris Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 1999. Plant communities of limestone, dolomite, and other calcareous substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-4. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 218 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Northern White-Cedar Slope Forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
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: White Pine - Hemlock: 22
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
CES202.593 Appalachian (Hemlock)-Northern Hardwood Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1G2 (31Jan2001)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This community type is limited to rare edaphic situations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and possibly Kentucky and West Virginia. Occurrences are small, and some have been altered by timber harvest. Despite the rarity of this type, its conservation status is apparently fairly stable.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: KYpotentially occurs, TN, VA, WVpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is known from scattered locations in the Ridge and Valley Province of western Virginia, and may occur in the Ridge and Valley of other, adjacent states, such as Tennessee.

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This is essentially a mixed coniferous-deciduous woodland, with each component contributing approximately 50% of the canopy cover. Thuja occidentalis and Pinus strobus are codominant in these samples, with Tsuga canadensis a less abundant associate. A variety of hardwoods co-occur, the most constant and abundant of which are Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus alba, and Quercus rubra. Young reproduction of all three conifers (Thuja occidentalis, Pinus strobus, and Tsuga canadensis) dominates the understory layers; Sassafras albidum is also a constant understory tree, and Amelanchier arborea codominates in one plot. Hamamelis virginiana and young Tsuga canadensis dominate the shrub layer of one plot each. Other constant but low cover shrubs are Dirca palustris and Viburnum acerifolium. Tree height is variable from occurrence to occurrence. Herbaceous growth is sparse (mean stratum cover = 24%) and patchy. Many herbaceous species and woody seedlings occur at low cover. The most important herbaceous species include Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Brachyelytrum erectum, Chamaelirium luteum, Collinsonia canadensis, Dioscorea quaternata, Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa (= Hepatica americana), Solidago arguta, Solidago curtisii, and Uvularia perfoliata.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Liriodendron tulipifera G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus alba G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus coccinea G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus muehlenbergii G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus rubra G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus stellata G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus strobus G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Thuja occidentalis G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Tsuga canadensis G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Sassafras albidum G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Hamamelis virginiana G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Dirca palustris G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Spiraea betulifolia var. corymbosa G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Viburnum acerifolium G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Parthenocissus quinquefolia G1 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Vitis aestivalis var. aestivalis G1 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rosa carolina G1 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Paxistima canbyi G1 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Amphicarpaea bracteata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Chamaelirium luteum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Dioscorea quaternata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Eurybia divaricata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Galium boreale G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Galium circaezans G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hepatica nobilis var. acuta G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hexastylis virginica G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Ligusticum canadense G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Maianthemum racemosum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Melanthium latifolium G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Polygala paucifolia G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Polygonatum biflorum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago arguta G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago curtisii G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Uvularia perfoliata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola rotundifolia G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola walteri G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Waldsteinia fragarioides G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Botrychium virginianum G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Brachyelytrum erectum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex eburnea G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex laxiculmis G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Paxistima canbyi
  (Canby's Mountain-lover)
G2  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: Habitats are on moderately steep to steep (mean = 31), convex, WNW-facing slopes at relatively low elevation (mean = 521 m [1710 feet]). These slopes, situated in major stream and river valleys, are geomorphic products of long-term stream incision. Bedrock parent material at one site is interbedded limestone and sandstone of Silurian age; at another site is underlain by Ordovician limestone. Soils at both sites are evidently colluvial and have a neutral pH. The soil moisture regime was assessed as mesic at both sites, but tends toward the submesic end of this moisture class. This community type is extremely rare in Virginia, where it is known only from the two plot-sampled stands and two putative locations in Montgomery and Russell counties, all in the Ridge and Valley province. Patches of this vegetation are very small (0.1 to 1.0 ha) and additional occurrences are likely in suitable western Virginia habitats. One Tennessee site (Pine Knob) is actually east-facing.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A.S. Weakley and K.D. Patterson, mod. G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 17May2005
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming and M. Pyne
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 31Jan2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): A.S. Weakley

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


References
  • 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. 1999. Plant communities of limestone, dolomite, and other calcareous substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-4. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 218 pp. plus appendices.

  • 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. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • 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. 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.

  • 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.

  • Walker, G. L. 1987. Ecology and population biology of Thuja occidentalis L. in its southern disjunct range. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 160 pp.


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