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Quercus rubra - Acer saccharum / Ostrya virginiana / Cardamine concatenata Forest
Translated Name: Northern Red Oak - Sugar Maple / Hophornbeam / Cutleaf Toothwort Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian Rich Red Oak - Sugar Maple Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL008517
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community type is currently known from the Ridge and Valley region of west-central and northwestern Virginia and adjacent Maryland, with a few outliers in the Piedmont of both states. It occupies submesic slopes with various aspects, broad crests, and occasionally high alluvial terraces at low and middle elevations. Elevation ranges from less than 300 to 1146 m (<1000-3760 feet). Middle slope positions are typical, but stands also occur on lower and upper slopes. This forest association occurs in small to large patches. Acer saccharum, Quercus rubra, and, to a lesser extent, Carya spp. are the dominant trees in closed-canopy stands. Carya glabra and Carya ovata are the two most frequent hickories, but Carya cordiformis, Carya alba, and Carya ovalis are also present in some stands. Fraxinus americana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus alba, Quercus prinus, Quercus velutina, Fagus grandifolia, Quercus muehlenbergii, and Tilia americana each attain importance in a subset of stands. Understory layers contain substantial reproduction of Acer saccharum and moderate representation of the other major canopy species. The shrub layer is usually very open, with much of its cover contributed by tree saplings; Ostrya virginiana is the most constant and abundant small tree/shrub, while Cornus florida, Cercis canadensis, and Hamamelis virginiana are more locally important understory species. Herbaceous growth is usually not lush and frequently exhibits patch-dominance by one to a few species.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This community type has some affinities to Quercus rubra - Acer saccharum - Liriodendron tulipifera Forest (CEGL006125) that is centered in the high Allegheny Mountains and lower New England regions to the north, but it is typically associated with more calcareous soils and differs considerably in floristic composition. Liriodendron tulipifera is inconstant (52% constancy) in plot-sampled Central Appalachian stands of this association (CEGL008517) and entirely absent from stands above about 975 m (3200 feet). In two Virginia plots, there is evidence (in the form of numerous large, rotting boles) that Castanea dentata (American chestnut) was formerly dominant or codominant and that this type has developed as a residual type following chestnut blight. The Middle Mountain (Highland County) stand is especially important because the site evidently escaped logging and contains an essentially complete record of successional change since the demise of Castanea dentata.

Similar oak - hickory - sugar maple vegetation is reported by Andreu and Tukman (1995) and Bryant (1981) from Tennessee and Kentucky. In the old-growth forests of the Kentucky Eden Shale Belt, young Acer saccharum reproduction was abundant in all stands, while oak and hickory reproduction was scarce, suggesting that a reduction of wildfire frequencies was contributing to successional replacement of oak-hickory forests by Acer saccharum (Bryant 1981). The resemblance of these forests to some aspects of the Central Appalachian type is striking, but comparable quantitative data on environmental factors and total floristic composition are needed to sort out ecologically meaningful units from across a considerable geographic range.


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-Interior-Northeastern Mesic Forest
Group Appalachian-Allegheny Northern Hardwood - Conifer Forest
Alliance Northern Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Sweet Birch Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006125 Quercus rubra - Acer saccharum - Liriodendron tulipifera Forest
CEGL007233 Quercus alba - Quercus rubra - Carya ovalis / Acer saccharum / Polystichum acrostichoides Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acer saccharum - Carya glabra - Ostrya virginiana Alliance: Fraxinus americana - Juglans cinerea / Hydrophyllum virginianum Association
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Rawinski, T. J., G. P. Fleming, and F. V. Judge. 1994. Forest vegetation of the Ramsey's Draft and Little Laurel Run Research Natural Areas, Virginia: Baseline ecological monitoring and classification. Natural Heritage Technical Report 94-14. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 45 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Acer saccharum - Carya ovata / Cercis canadensis / Muhlenbergia tenuiflora Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 2000. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Peter's Mountain area, James River Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 195 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Acer saccharum - Quercus rubra - Carya (glabra, ovata) / Ageratina altissima - Bromus pubescens Forest
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: Acer saccharum - Quercus rubra - Carya glabra / Ageratina altissima Association
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1996. Ecological land units of the Laurel Fork Area, Highland County, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 114 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Acer saccharum var. saccharum - Quercus rubra - Carya (glabra, ovata) / Ageratina altissima Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
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: Quercus rubra - Acer saccharum / Ostrya virginiana / Cardamine concatenata Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., K. Taverna, and P. P. Coulling. 2007b. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, eastern region. Regional (VA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2007. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
Related Concept Name: Dry-Mesic Calcareous 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.
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.
Related Concept Name: Sugar Maple: 27
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: Yellow-Poplar - White Oak - Northern Red Oak: 59
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
CES202.592 Northeastern Interior Dry-Mesic Oak Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (02Oct2006)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: This community type is suspected of being widespread in the Central Appalachians and possibly Kentucky and Tennessee, but additional data analysis is needed to sort out relationships between reported types that are similar. The type appears to be fairly common and secure in west-central and northwestern Virginia and adjacent Maryland.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community type is currently known from the Ridge and Valley region of west-central and northwestern Virginia and adjacent Maryland, with a few outliers in the Piedmont of both states. The type may be more widespread than documentation indicates. Within the known range, it appears to be widely but somewhat locally distributed on fertile Ridge and Valley substrates and very locally on calcium-enriched substrates of the Piedmont Plateau. Similar vegetation has been observed in the Cumberland Mountains of southwestern Virginia, but its disposition is uncertain.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 221D 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: Southern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 231A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Cumberland Mountains Section
Section Code: M221C Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This forest association occurs in small to large patches. Acer saccharum, Quercus rubra, and, to a lesser extent, Carya spp. are the dominant trees in closed-canopy stands. Carya glabra and Carya ovata are the two most frequent hickories, but Carya cordiformis, Carya alba, and Carya ovalis are also present in some stands. Fraxinus americana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus alba, Quercus prinus, Quercus velutina, Fagus grandifolia, and Tilia americana each attain importance in a subset of stands. Understory layers contain substantial reproduction of Acer saccharum and moderate representation of the other major canopy species. The shrub layer is usually very open, with much of its cover contributed by tree saplings; Ostrya virginiana is the most constant and abundant small tree/shrub, while Cornus florida, Cercis canadensis, and Hamamelis virginiana are more locally important understory species. Herbaceous growth is usually not lush and frequently exhibits patch-dominance by one to a few species. The most constant and/or abundant herbs in the type's principal Ridge and Valley range are Ageratina altissima, Amphicarpaea bracteata, Arabis laevigata, Bromus pubescens, Cardamine concatenata, Carex digitalis, Carex platyphylla, Claytonia virginica, Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Festuca subverticillata, Polystichum acrostichoides, and Solidago caesia. Species richness in 42 plot-sampled stands ranges from 17 to 84 taxa per 400 square meters (mean = 50).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Carya ovata G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus rubra G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Acer rubrum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Ostrya virginiana G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ageratina altissima G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lithospermum latifolium G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polystichum acrostichoides G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Bromus pubescens G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex digitalis G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex hirtifolia G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Muhlenbergia tenuiflora G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: The community occupies submesic slopes with various aspects, broad crests, and occasionally high alluvial terraces at low and middle elevations. Elevation ranges from less than 300 to 1146 m (<1000-3760 feet). Middle slope positions are typical, but stands also occur on lower and upper slopes. Habitats only occasionally have substantial surface cover of bedrock or stones; at most sites, leaf litter is the predominant surface substrate. Soil moisture regime is intermediate between that of mesic cove forests and that of subxeric forests and woodlands of rocky, calcareous slopes. Soil samples collected from plots are friable, light to dark brown silt loams or clay loams that are strongly to moderately acidic (mean pH = 5.0) but have moderately high calcium values (mean about 1200 ppm). Parent geologic material of Ridge and Valley sites includes limestone, dolomite, interbedded limestone and sandstone, calcareous shales and calcareous sandstone. Piedmont sites occur on calcareous Triassic siltstones and interbedded metasedimentary and intrusive mafic rocks of the Potomac River valley.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: At some sites, this community type appears to result from the invasion of fire-suppressed oak-hickory stands by Acer saccharum.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson and G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 23Feb2010
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 02Oct2006
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
  • Andreu, M. G., and M. L. Tukman. 1995. Forest communities of the Tellico Lake Area, East Tennessee. M.F. project report, Duke University, School of the Environment. Durham, NC. 66 pp. plus appendices.

  • Bryant, W. S. 1981. Oak-hickory forests of the Eden Shale Belt: A preliminary report. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 42:41-45.

  • 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., K. Taverna, and P. P. Coulling. 2007b. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, eastern region. Regional (VA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2007. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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., 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. 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 K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1996. Ecological land units of the Laurel Fork Area, Highland County, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 114 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 2000. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Peter's Mountain area, James River Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 195 pp. plus appendices.

  • Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

  • Rawinski, T. J., G. P. Fleming, and F. V. Judge. 1994. Forest vegetation of the Ramsey's Draft and Little Laurel Run Research Natural Areas, Virginia: Baseline ecological monitoring and classification. Natural Heritage Technical Report 94-14. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 45 pp. plus appendices.


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