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Quercus rubra / Carex pensylvanica - Ageratina altissima var. roanensis Forest
Translated Name: Northern Red Oak / Pennsylvania Sedge - Appalachian White Snakeroot Forest
Common Name: High-Elevation Red Oak Forest (Tall Herb Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL007298
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community occurs on most of the major mountain ranges of the Southern Appalachians in North Carolina and Tennessee, at elevations over 1400 m (4500 feet) on broad ridges, and on steep rocky slopes at the heads of coves, often with northern or southeastern aspects. It includes forest vegetation with a closed to very open canopy, where Quercus rubra makes up at least 75% of the tree canopy and with less than 20% shrub cover. Canopy trees may be gnarled and stunted, especially on ridge crests. Other canopy species may include Acer rubrum, Crataegus punctata, Crataegus flabellata, Betula alleghaniensis, Betula lenta, and, at high elevations, Picea rubens. An open subcanopy contains canopy species plus Hamamelis virginiana, Amelanchier arborea, Acer pensylvanicum, Halesia tetraptera, and Ilex montana. Herbaceous cover is dense and diverse, composed of sedges, ferns, and tall herbs, with dominance varying within and between occurrences. Typical herbaceous dominants include Carex pensylvanica, Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Eurybia chlorolepis (= Aster chlorolepis), Oclemena acuminata (= Aster acuminatus), and Laportea canadensis. This forest often occurs adjacent to or grades into forests dominated by Picea rubens, Abies fraseri, or northern hardwood species (Betula alleghaniensis, Fagus grandifolia, Aesculus flava). In some areas, this community is found adjacent to montane shrublands and grasslands. This community is often referred to as a "Subalpine Oak Orchard Forest."



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This community includes forest vegetation with Quercus rubra making up at least 75% of the tree canopy and with less than 20% shrub cover. Herbaceous stratum dominance varies within and among occurrences but is composed of sedges, ferns and tall herbs. Typical herbaceous dominants include Carex pensylvanica, Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Eurybia chlorolepis, Oclemena acuminata, and Laportea canadensis. In three plots classified as this association in the Appalachian Trail classification project, herbs present in all samples are Angelica triquinata, Carex pensylvanica, Clintonia umbellulata, Smilax herbacea, Solidago curtisii, and Thelypteris noveboracensis. Woody species with 100% constancy are Acer rubrum, Acer pensylvanicum, Ilex montana, Prunus serotina var. serotina, and Quercus rubra (Fleming and Patterson 2009a).

Two varieties of Quercus rubra occur within the range of this community, Quercus rubra var. ambigua and Quercus rubra var. rubra (Kartesz 1999). Although the two varieties are known to occur together (Rohrer 1983), Quercus rubra var. ambigua occurs mostly at elevations greater than 1000 m (3300 feet), while Quercus rubra var. rubra occurs at elevations less than 1000 m (3300 feet) (Weakley 1997). The two varieties are based upon morphological differences in the leaves and acorns (Fernald 1950, Coker and Totten 1945); however, studies of foliar flavonoid composition in different Quercus rubra populations suggest that varietal distinction may not be warranted (McDougal and Parks 1984). Even though most studies of Quercus rubra-dominated vegetation do not distinguish Quercus rubra at the varietal level, it is likely, given the elevational range of this community, that the dominant species in this forest is Quercus rubra var. ambigua.


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 Appalachian Oak / Chestnut Forest
Alliance Montane Oak Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004184 Crataegus punctata - Crataegus flabellata Ruderal Forest
CEGL007299 Quercus rubra / (Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron maximum) / Galax urceolata Forest
CEGL007300 Quercus rubra / (Vaccinium simulatum, Rhododendron calendulaceum) / (Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Thelypteris noveboracensis) 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 High Elevation Red Oak Forest (Orchard Forest Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: High Elevation Red Oak Forest
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.
Related Concept Name: High Elevation Red Oak Forest (Orchard Forest Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: High elevation red oak/Pennsylvania sedge forest
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
Related Concept Name: IA4g. High Elevation Northern Red Oak Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
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: Mixed Fern Phase, Tall Herb Phase
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: DeLapp, J. A. 1978. Gradient analysis and classification of the high elevation red oak community of the Southern Appalachians. M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. 483 pp.
Related Concept Name: Northern Red Oak (55)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.
Related Concept Name: Northern Red Oak, BR
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Pyne, M. 1994. Tennessee natural communities. Unpublished document. Tennessee Department of Conservation, Ecology Service Division, Nashville. 7 pp.
Related Concept Name: Northern Red Oak: 55
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
CES202.596 Central and Southern Appalachian Montane Oak Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (30Apr1998)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This community is relatively secure within its range, but has a naturally restricted habitat. Red oak decline is affecting occurrences of this community; fire may be needed for stand establishment.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NC, TN
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs on most of the major mountain ranges of the Southern Appalachians in North Carolina and 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: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This community includes forest vegetation, with a closed to very open canopy, where Quercus rubra makes up at least 75% of the tree canopy and with less than 20% shrub cover. Canopy trees may be gnarled and stunted, especially on ridge crests. Other canopy species may include Acer rubrum, Crataegus punctata, Crataegus flabellata, Betula alleghaniensis, Betula lenta, and, at high elevations, Picea rubens. An open subcanopy contains canopy species plus Hamamelis virginiana, Amelanchier arborea, Acer pensylvanicum, Halesia tetraptera, and Ilex montana. Herbaceous cover is dense and diverse, composed of sedges, ferns, and tall herbs, with dominance varying within and among occurrences. Typical herbaceous dominants include Carex pensylvanica, Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Eurybia chlorolepis (= Aster chlorolepis), Oclemena acuminata (= Aster acuminatus), and Laportea canadensis. Many species in this community are endemic to the Southern Blue Ridge or have the bulk of their worldwide range in that region. Some of these endemics include Abies fraseri, Aesculus flava, Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Carex roanensis, Clethra acuminata, Euphorbia purpurea, Leucothoe recurva, Prenanthes roanensis, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron vaseyi, Silene ovata, Solidago curtisii (= Solidago lancifolia), and Vaccinium erythrocarpum.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Prunus virginiana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Quercus rubra G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Abies fraseri G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Aesculus flava G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Clethra acuminata G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Rhododendron prinophyllum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Rhododendron vaseyi G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Vaccinium erythrocarpum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Leucothoe recurva G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Rhododendron catawbiense G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Pyrola americana G2 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Calystegia catesbeiana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Coreopsis latifolia G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Euphorbia purpurea G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Gentiana austromontana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Helianthemum bicknellii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Helianthemum propinquum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Prenanthes roanensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Silene ovata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Solidago curtisii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Botrychium lanceolatum var. angustisegmentum G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Dennstaedtia punctilobula G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Thelypteris noveboracensis G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Calamagrostis porteri G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex pensylvanica G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Carex roanensis G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Clematis occidentalis G2 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 
Lonicera dioica G2 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Abies fraseri
  (Fraser Fir)
G2  
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis
  (Appalachian White Snakeroot)
G5T3T4  
Calystegia catesbeiana
  (Catesby's False Bindweed)
G3  
Carex roanensis
  (Roan Mountain Sedge)
G2G3  
Coreopsis latifolia
  (Broadleaf Tickseed)
G3  
Euphorbia purpurea
  (Glade Spurge)
G3  
Gentiana austromontana
  (Appalachian Gentian)
G3  
Prenanthes roanensis
  (Roan Mountain Rattlesnake-root)
G3  
Rhododendron vaseyi
  (Pink-shell Azalea)
G3  
Silene ovata
  (Ovate Catchfly)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs at elevations over 1400 m (4500 feet) on broad ridges and on steep rocky slopes at the heads of coves, often with north or southeast aspects. Occurrences of this community on exposed slopes and south- and west-facing ridges are subject to lightning-caused fires and damage by ice and wind. Damage by ice storms is probably the most common form of natural disturbance. This community occurs over well-drained, loamy soils underlain by Precambrian gneisses, schists, and granites. These soils are classified as Typic, Umbric, or Lithic Dystrochrepts, and Typic Haplumbrepts (Golden 1974). Soils supporting this community tend to have relatively high base status.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The canopy is probably rarely removed completely by natural disturbance; however, small canopy gaps are caused by individual tree death. Occurrences of this community on exposed slopes and south- and west-facing ridges are subject to lightning-caused fires and damage by ice and wind. Damage by ice storms is probably the most common form of natural disturbance.

Quercus rubra reproduction and survival is optimal in canopy gaps with little regeneration under the forest canopy, hence these forests will eventually succeed to forests with mixed canopy composition of Quercus rubra, Betula alleghaniensis, Acer rubrum, and Fagus grandifolia. Many Quercus rubra-dominated stands of today were, prior to the chestnut blight in the 1930s, dominated or codominated by Castanea dentata with scattered Quercus rubra and Acer rubrum in the canopy (Golden 1974). The fungus Endothia parasitica eliminated Castanea dentata in the upper canopy, subsequently releasing the subcanopy Quercus rubra, which eventually resulted in a nearly pure upper canopy of large Quercus rubra.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson
Element Description Edition Date: 24Oct1994
Element Description Author(s): K.D. Patterson
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 10Jan1998
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
  • 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.

  • CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.

  • Coker, W. C., and H. R. Totten. 1945. Trees of the southeastern United States. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.

  • DeLapp, J. A. 1978. Gradient analysis and classification of the high elevation red oak community of the Southern Appalachians. M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. 483 pp.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. Eighth edition. A handbook of the flowering plants and ferns of the central and northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. American Book Co., New York.

  • 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.

  • Golden, M. S. 1974. Forest vegetation and site relationships in the central portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 275 pp.

  • Kartesz, J. T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: J. T. Kartesz and C. A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • McDougal, K. M., and C. R. Parks. 1984. Elevational variation in foliar flavonoids of Quercus rubra L. (Fagaceae). American Journal of Botany 71:301-308.

  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • 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.

  • Pyne, M. 1994. Tennessee natural communities. Unpublished document. Tennessee Department of Conservation, Ecology Service Division, Nashville. 7 pp.

  • Rohrer, J. R. 1983. Vegetation pattern and rock type in the flora of the Hanging Rock Area, North Carolina. Castanea 48:189-205.

  • Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.

  • Weakley, A. S. 1980. Natural areas inventory and management recommendations for Big Yellow Mountain, Avery County, North Carolina. Unpublished document. The Nature Conservancy, North Carolina Field Office. Carrboro, NC. 100 pp.

  • Weakley, A. S. 1997. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia. Unpublished May draft. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs 26:1-80.


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