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Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra / Cornus florida / Polystichum acrostichoides - Hexastylis virginica Forest
Translated Name: American Beech - Northern Red Oak / Flowering Dogwood / Christmas Fern - Virginia Heartleaf Forest
Common Name: Piedmont Acidic Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL008465
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association represents the more typical mesic mixed hardwood forest of the Piedmont from North Carolina to Georgia. The canopy of stands of this association is dominated by mesophytic trees such as Fagus grandifolia, Quercus rubra, Liriodendron tulipifera, Acer rubrum, and in the western Piedmont, Tsuga canadensis. Typical understory trees include Cornus florida, Oxydendrum arboreum, Acer rubrum, and Ilex opaca. Shrub species may include Vaccinium stamineum, Viburnum rafinesquianum, Euonymus americanus, and sometimes Kalmia latifolia. The herb layer is often moderately dense and diverse, though it may be sparse under heavy shade. Herb species may include Polystichum acrostichoides, Viola spp., Dichanthelium spp. (= Panicum spp.), Galium circaezans, Hexastylis arifolia, Hexastylis minor, Desmodium nudiflorum, Erythronium umbilicatum ssp. umbilicatum, Chamaelirium luteum, Epifagus virginiana, Tiarella cordifolia var. collina, Heuchera americana, Stellaria pubera, Podophyllum peltatum, Prenanthes serpentaria, Thalictrum thalictroides, Chrysogonum virginianum var. virginianum, Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa, Thelypteris noveboracensis, and Botrychium virginianum. Exact composition varies locally with position on slope and nature of soil. Western Piedmont sites often have increasing importance of Tsuga canadensis, Rhododendron spp., and other species that are more typical of the Southern Blue Ridge.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low

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-Central Interior Mesic Forest
Alliance Piedmont-Ridge and Valley Beech - Red Oak Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006075 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (alba, rubra) - Liriodendron tulipifera / (Ilex opaca var. opaca) Forest
CEGL008466 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra / Aesculus sylvatica / Actaea racemosa - Adiantum pedatum 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 Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (Piedmont Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (Piedmont Subtype)
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.342 Southern Piedmont Mesic Forest
CES203.242 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (18Jan2001)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: While not as extensive as the oak-hickory forests, Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest communities are fairly common. Their occurrence on steep sites has allowed many of them to escape, until recently, with less disturbance than most upland communities (Schafale and Weakley 1990). Some examples with old forest can be found. Selective timbering may have decreased the importance value of more desirable hardwoods (e.g., Quercus rubra). Some examples are protected in the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness Area and other parts of the Uwharrie National Forest.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GA, NC, SC
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is found in the Piedmont of the southeastern United States, from North Carolina to Georgia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The canopy of stands of this association is dominated by mesophytic trees such as Fagus grandifolia, Quercus rubra, Liriodendron tulipifera, Acer rubrum, and in the western Piedmont, Tsuga canadensis. Typical understory trees include Cornus florida, Oxydendrum arboreum, Acer rubrum, and Ilex opaca. Shrub species may include Vaccinium stamineum, Viburnum rafinesquianum, Euonymus americanus, and sometimes Kalmia latifolia. The herb layer is often moderately dense and diverse, though it may be sparse under heavy shade. Herb species may include Polystichum acrostichoides, Viola spp., Dichanthelium spp. (= Panicum spp.), Galium circaezans, Hexastylis arifolia, Hexastylis minor, Desmodium nudiflorum, Erythronium umbilicatum ssp. umbilicatum, Chamaelirium luteum, Epifagus virginiana, Tiarella cordifolia var. collina, Heuchera americana, Stellaria pubera, Podophyllum peltatum, Prenanthes serpentaria, Thalictrum thalictroides, Chrysogonum virginianum var. virginianum, Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa, Thelypteris noveboracensis, and Botrychium virginianum (Schafale and Weakley 1990). Exact composition varies locally with position on slope and nature of soil. Western Piedmont sites often have increasing importance of Tsuga canadensis, Rhododendron spp., and other species that are more typical of the Southern Blue Ridge.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Fagus grandifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus rubra G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Cornus florida G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy  
 
 
Collinsonia tuberosa G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polystichum acrostichoides G3 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
Collinsonia tuberosa
  (Deepwoods Horsebalm)
G3G4  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: Examples of this association predominantly occur on steep but sheltered slopes adjacent to creeks or rivers in the Piedmont. They can occur further upslope, but occurrences are much more likely as one gets closer to streams.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Under natural conditions these forests are uneven-aged, with old trees present. Reproduction occurs primarily in canopy gaps. Rare, severe natural disturbances such as wind storms may allow pulses of increased regeneration and allow the less shade-tolerant species to remain in the community. However, Skeen, Carter, and Ragsdale (1980) argued that even the shade-intolerant Liriodendron could reproduce enough in gaps to persist in the climax Piedmont forests (Schafale and Weakley 1990).

The natural fire regime of the Piedmont is not known but fires certainly occurred periodically. Because Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forests generally occur in moist and topographically sheltered sites, they probably burned only rarely and with low intensity (Schafale and Weakley 1990).

Disturbed areas have increased amounts of pines and weedy hardwoods such as Liriodendron tulipifera and Liquidambar styraciflua. Many areas have been selectively cut many times and have increased importance of Fagus grandifolia and other noncommercial hardwoods relative to oaks (Schafale and Weakley 1990). Other areas that were disturbed in the distant past may be younger and, therefore, may have a higher proportion of oaks with beeches mainly in the understory.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.P. Schafale
Element Description Edition Date: 14Feb2007
Element Description Author(s): M.P. Schafale
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Jan2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M.P. Schafale/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
  • LeGrand, H. E., Jr., and B. Dalton. 1987. Inventory of the natural areas of Wake County, NC. Report to Triangle Land Conservancy, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, and Wake County Parks and Recreation Commission.

  • Nehmeth, J. C. 1968. The hardwood vegetation and soils of Hill Demonstration Forest, Durham Co., NC. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 84:482-491.

  • Oosting, H. J. 1942. An ecological analysis of the plant communities of Piedmont, North Carolina. The American Midland Naturalist 28:1-127.

  • 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.

  • Peet, R. K., and N. L. Christensen. 1980. Hardwood forest vegetation of the North Carolina Piedmont. Veroffentlichungen des Geobotanischen Institutes der ETH, Stiftung Rubel 68:14-39.

  • 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.

  • Skeen, J. N., M. E. B. Carter, and H. L. Ragsdale. 1980. Yellow-poplar: The Piedmont case. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 107:1-6.

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

  • White, R. D., Jr., and M. Pyne. 2003. Vascular plant inventory and plant community classification for Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. Prepared for the National Park Service. NatureServe, Southeast Regional Office, Durham, NC. 124 pp.

  • White, R. D., Jr., and T. Govus. 2003. Vascular plant inventory and plant community classification for Ninety Six National Historic Site. Prepared for the National Park Service. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 146 pp.


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