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Fraxinus americana / Physocarpus opulifolius / Carex pensylvanica - Allium cernuum - (Phacelia dubia) Wooded Grassland
Translated Name: White Ash / Common Ninebark / Pennsylvania Sedge - Nodding Onion - (Small-flower Phacelia) Wooded Grassland
Common Name: Central Appalachian Mafic Barrens (Ninebark / Pennsylvania Sedge Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL008529
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community is known only from the northern Virginia Blue Ridge and possibly the higher adjacent foothills, in areas underlain by Catoctin metabasalt (greenstone) and Middle Proterozoic plutonic rocks. Sites are located on steep (up to 37), xeric, middle-elevation slopes where exposed outcrops effectively limit the establishment and normal development of trees. Underlying bedrock at most sites is metabasalt (greenstone). Three documented sites are underlain by charnockite, a pyroxene-bearing granitic rock, and it is likely that additional stands occur on this and related plutonic formations. Elevation of plot-sampled stands ranges from 543 to 1050 m (1782-3450 feet), with a mean of 835 m (2740 feet). Middle-slope topographic positions are typical, with slopes convex in at least one direction. Aspect varies from southeast to northwest, with westerly aspects prevalent. This vegetation type is dominated by herbaceous plants with scattered shrub patches and stunted trees. The herb layer usually ranges from 25-60% total cover (occasionally higher or lower), and from scattered to locally dense where soil and organic matter have accumulated. Carex pensylvanica and Schizachyrium scoparium are consistently dominant herbs. Phacelia dubia is an abundant spring ephemeral in about two-thirds of the plots, and this species may have been missed in late-season sampling of other plots.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Although this community type has been referred to as a "greenstone glade" (Fleming 1993), this name is inappropriate given the occasional occurrence of the type on granitic rocks. Additional inventory and data collection are needed to determine the extent of this association on plutonic substrates. This community often occurs adjacent to, or nested within, a larger patch of Fraxinus americana - Carya glabra / Muhlenbergia sobolifera - Helianthus divaricatus - Solidago ulmifolia Woodland (CEGL003683). It is also similar to Juniperus virginiana - Fraxinus americana / Carex pensylvanica - Cheilanthes lanosa Open Woodland (CEGL006037), which occurs at lower elevations, on a wider variety of substrates (including calcareous shales), and has a large component of elevation-limited lithophytes absent from this association (CEGL008529).

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 Appalachian Rocky Felsic & Mafic Scrub & Grassland
Group Appalachian Mafic Glade
Alliance Appalachian Mafic-Circumneutral Barrens

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003683 Fraxinus americana - Carya glabra / Muhlenbergia sobolifera - Helianthus divaricatus - Solidago ulmifolia Woodland
CEGL006037 Juniperus virginiana - Fraxinus americana / Carex pensylvanica - Cheilanthes lanosa Open Woodland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Fraxinus americana / Physocarpus opulifolius / Carex pensylvanica - Allium cernuum - (Phacelia dubia) Wooded Herbaceous Vegetation
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: Fraxinus americana / Physocarpus opulifolius / Carex pensylvanica - Allium cernuum Wooded Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2007a. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report, volume 1.1. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 103 pp. plus appendices and GIS products.
Related Concept Name: Greenstone glade
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 1993. Floristics and preliminary classification of greenstone glade vegetation in Virginia. Virginia Journal of Science 44:119 (Abstract).
Related Concept Name: Low-Elevation Basic Outcrop 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.348 Southern and Central Appalachian Mafic Glade and Barrens


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (01Feb2008)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This vegetation is naturally rare, being restricted to special edaphic habitats on metavolcanic and plutonic rocks of limited geographic extent. There are probably at least 20 occurrences in Virginia and globally. Patches are small (generally <0.5 ha), but there are few threats to this community since most occurrences are on steep, remote sites in federally protected areas.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is known only from the northern Virginia Blue Ridge and possibly the higher adjacent foothills, in areas underlain by Catoctin metabasalt (greenstone) and Middle Proterozoic plutonic rocks.

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This vegetation type is dominated by herbaceous plants with scattered shrub patches and stunted trees. The herb layer usually ranges from 25-60% total cover (occasionally higher or lower), and from scattered to locally dense where soil and organic matter have accumulated. Carex pensylvanica and Schizachyrium scoparium are consistently dominant herbs. Phacelia dubia is an abundant spring ephemeral in about two-thirds of the plots, and this species may have been missed in late-season sampling of other plots. Other relatively frequent (>50% constancy) herbs are Agrostis perennans, Allium cernuum, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Danthonia spicata, Dichanthelium acuminatum, Elymus hystrix, Helianthus divaricatus, Hylotelephium telephioides (= Sedum telephioides), and Polygonatum biflorum. Deschampsia flexuosa, Festuca rubra, and Symphyotrichum laeve var. concinnum (= Aster laevis var. concinnus) are each common locally. Herbaceous species that are characteristic of gravelly or mossy crevices and depressions with ephemeral spring seepage or periodic moisture accumulation include Draba ramosissima, Muhlenbergia glomerata, Polygonum tenue, Saxifraga virginiensis, Talinum teretifolium, and Woodsia ilvensis. Stunted trees (<10 m tall) of Fraxinus americana are consistent features of the community type. Physocarpus opulifolius and Rosa carolina are the most frequent shrubs, but Chionanthus virginicus, Rhus typhina, Juniperus virginiana, Amelanchier sanguinea, Ptelea trifoliata, and Spiraea alba var. latifolia are each important in a subset of plots. Species richness of plot-sampled stands ranges from 28 to 58 taxa per 400 square meters (mean = 40).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Fraxinus americana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Amelanchier sanguinea G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Chionanthus virginicus G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Physocarpus opulifolius G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Rhus typhina G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rosa carolina G2 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Paxistima canbyi G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Allium cernuum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Cuscuta coryli G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Heuchera caroliniana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Liatris turgida G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Phacelia dubia G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Potentilla arguta G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Symphyotrichum laeve var. concinnum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Taenidia montana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Talinum teretifolium G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Trillium rugelii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Woodsia ilvensis G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Hylotelephium telephioides G2 Succulent forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex pensylvanica G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Danthonia spicata G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Deschampsia flexuosa G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Muhlenbergia glomerata G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Heuchera caroliniana
  (Carolina Alumroot)
G3  
Liatris turgida
  (Turgid Gayfeather)
G3  
Paxistima canbyi
  (Canby's Mountain-lover)
G2  
Taenidia montana
  (Mountain Parsley)
G3  
Trillium rugelii
  (Southern Nodding Trillium)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: Sites are located on steep (up to 37), xeric, middle-elevation slopes where exposed outcrops effectively limit the establishment and normal development of trees. Underlying bedrock at most sites is metabasalt (greenstone). Three documented sites are underlain by charnockite, a pyroxene-bearing granitic rock, and it is likely that additional stands occur on this and related plutonic formations. Elevation of plot-sampled stands ranges from 543 to 1050 m (1782-3450 feet), with a mean of 835 m (2740 feet). Middle-slope topographic positions are typical, with slopes convex in at least one direction. Aspect varies from southeast to northwest, with westerly aspects prevalent. Surface cover of exposed outcrops and loose rocks averages >50% and soil development is limited to depositional crevices and thin veneers on ledges. Soil samples collected from plots are very strongly acidic (mean pH = 4.5), with substantial organic matter content (mean = 26%), but have moderately high levels of calcium (mean = 1185 ppm) and magnesium (mean = 174 ppm).


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming and P.P. Coulling
Element Description Edition Date: 01Feb2008
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming and P.P. Coulling
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Feb2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G.P. Fleming

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


References
  • Fleming, G. P. 1993. Floristics and preliminary classification of greenstone glade vegetation in Virginia. Virginia Journal of Science 44:119 (Abstract).

  • Fleming, G. P., A. Belden, Jr., K. E. Heffernan, A. C. Chazal, N. E. Van Alstine, and E. M. Butler. 2007a. A natural heritage inventory of the rock outcrops of Shenandoah National Park. Unpublished report submitted to the National Park Service. Natural Heritage Technical Report 07-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 433 pp. plus appendixes.

  • 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.

  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • 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.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2006. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report (v.1.1). Research technical report prepared for USDI, National Park Service. USGS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. 92 pp. plus appendices.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2007a. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report, volume 1.1. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 103 pp. plus appendices and GIS products.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, W. Cass, and C. Lea. 2009. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients, Version 2.0. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2009/142. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.


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