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Pinus virginiana / Vaccinium pallidum / Schizachyrium scoparium - Carex pensylvanica Woodland
Translated Name: Virginia Pine / Blue Ridge Blueberry / Little Bluestem - Pennsylvania Sedge Woodland
Common Name: Blue Ridge Acidic Shale Woodland
Unique Identifier: CEGL003624
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community occurs on steep, shaley slopes in the Southern Appalachians and has an open to closed, stunted canopy and sparse herb and shrub strata characterized by species able to grow in loose shale fragments. It is known from the Hot Springs Window, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and occurs elsewhere in the Southern Appalachians, such as the Chauga Basin, South Carolina, and from Chilhowee Mountain, Tennessee. The canopy (5-25 m tall, 25-75% cover) is dominated by Pinus virginiana, with Quercus prinus and Quercus rubra sometimes present in substantial numbers in less extreme habitats. The shrub layer is very sparse, and may include scattered individuals of Kalmia latifolia, Vaccinium stamineum, and Vaccinium pallidum. The herb layer is very sparse to patchy, and is dominated by Schizachyrium scoparium, Carex pensylvanica, Danthonia spicata, Dichanthelium linearifolium, with scattered individuals of Coreopsis major, Houstonia longifolia (= Houstonia tenuifolia), Hieracium venosum, and Euphorbia corollata. Lichens are frequent, particularly on in-place outcrops, and include Cladina rangiferina and Cladonia spp. Loose shale fragments cover 50-90% of the ground surface. It is apparently a long-lived community, maintained by harsh edaphic conditions of steep slopes and shifting shale substrate. The community can vary quite widely from a very open canopy to one that is almost closed in cases where the slope is less steep and/or the rock underlying the stand is more stable.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: Five plots from the area of Hot Springs, North Carolina, are classified as this association in the Appalachian Trail classification study (Fleming and Patterson 2009a). These plots have 27 species with >60% constancy. Species with >80% constancy include, in order of descending constancy, Pinus virginiana, Quercus prinus, Quercus rubra, Vaccinium stamineum, Campanula divaricata, Coreopsis major, Andropogon virginicus var. virginicus, Hieracium venosum, Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana, Danthonia spicata, and Acer rubrum. This type is distinguished from the various shale barren types of western Virginia, eastern West Virginia, western Maryland, and south-central Pennsylvania by the complete absence of the distinctive endemic flora of that region. L.L. Gaddy (pers. comm.) reports this association from the Chauga Basin, South Carolina, and it is known from Chilhowee Mountain, Tennessee.

This association shares many floristic elements with Quercus prinus - Pinus virginiana - (Pinus pungens) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Dichanthelium depauperatum Woodland (CEGL008540), a Central Appalachian acidic woodland of various substrates other than shale, occurring in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. The two associations emerged as distinct in cluster analysis (Fleming and Patterson 2009a); however, when comparing the constant species (>60%) of the two groups, only three species, Andropogon virginicus var. virginicus, Carya pallida, and Ulmus alata, were present in samples of this association (CEGL003624) (n=5) and not in those of CEGL008540 (n=28). In this comparison, less constant species which are unique to CEGL008540 are Chionanthus virginicus, Cornus florida, Gaylussacia baccata, Quercus ilicifolia, and Quercus stellata, but with a larger sample of CEGL003624, those differences may not hold.


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 Virginia Pine - Table Mountain Pine Woodland & Barrens
Alliance Appalachian Pine - Oak Acidic Shale Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL007720 Quercus prinus - Juniperus virginiana - (Pinus virginiana) / Philadelphus hirsutus - Celtis occidentalis Woodland
CEGL008526 Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / Danthonia spicata Woodland
CEGL008540 Quercus prinus - Pinus virginiana - (Pinus pungens) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Dichanthelium depauperatum 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
North Carolina Acidic Shale Slope Woodland Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acidic Shale Slope Woodland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2002. Fourth approximation guide. Mountain communities. November 2002 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: IE6a. Southern Appalachian Shale Barren
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.598 Appalachian Shale Barrens


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (19Feb2004)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: As defined, this community is limited to the rare outcrops of shale in the Blue Ridge and in the transition between the Blue Ridge and Ridge and Valley physiographic provinces in extreme western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. There is some possibility that this type may be somewhat more widespread in the Ridge and Valley of Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and northern Alabama, although no new locations have been found to date (Feb 2004). It is distinguished from the various shale barren types of western Virginia, eastern West Virginia, western Maryland, and south-central Pennsylvania by the complete absence of the distinctive endemic flora of that region. Most examples are not highly threatened by development or timber harvesting because of their occurrence on steep slopes and the low value/poor quality timber present. This community type is threatened by the invasive exotic Paulownia tomentosa, which can colonize this community type where it is near a seed source. Although the current condition of the examples of this type are good, the fact that there are only three known Element Occurrences requires us to give this a high priority Global Rank.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NC, SCpotentially occurs, TN
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This forest is found in the Southern Appalachians of the Carolinas and Tennessee. It is reported from somewhat calcareous shales in the Hot Springs Window, in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina and Tennessee, from the Chauga Basin, South Carolina, and from Chilhowee Mountain, Tennessee.

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: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Central Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: 221J Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
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: The stunted open to closed canopy (5-25 m tall, 25-75% cover) of stands of this type is dominated by Pinus virginiana, with Quercus prinus and Quercus rubra sometimes present in substantial numbers in less extreme versions of this habitat. The shrub layer is very sparse, and may include scattered individuals of Kalmia latifolia, Vaccinium stamineum, and Vaccinium pallidum. The herb layer is very sparse to patchy, and is dominated by Schizachyrium scoparium, Carex pensylvanica, Danthonia spicata, Dichanthelium linearifolium, with scattered individuals of Coreopsis major, Houstonia longifolia (= Houstonia tenuifolia), Hieracium venosum, and Euphorbia corollata. Lichens are frequent, particularly on in-place outcrops, and include Cladina rangiferina and Cladonia spp.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Quercus prinus G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus rubra G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus virginiana G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Vaccinium hirsutum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Vaccinium pallidum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Heuchera caroliniana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex pensylvanica 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  
Vaccinium hirsutum
  (Hairy Blueberry)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs on steep, shaley slopes in the Southern Appalachians and has a sparse herb and shrub strata characterized by species able to grow in loose shale fragments. Loose shale fragments cover 50-90% of the ground surface. It is apparently a long-lived community, maintained by harsh edaphic conditions of steep slopes and shifting shale substrate. The community can vary quite widely from a very open canopy to one that is almost closed in cases where the slope is less steep and/or the rock underlying the stand is more stable.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A.S. Weakley, mod. R. White
Element Description Edition Date: 24Feb2010
Element Description Author(s): R. White
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 19Feb2004
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): R. White and R.E. Evans

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • Schafale, M. 2002. Fourth approximation guide. Mountain communities. November 2002 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.

  • 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.


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