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Carya glabra - Quercus (rubra, prinus) - Fraxinus americana / Viburnum rafinesquianum Forest
Translated Name: Pignut Hickory - (Northern Red Oak, Chestnut Oak) - White Ash / Downy Arrow-wood Forest
Common Name: Potomac River Bedrock Terrace Oak - Hickory Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006209
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This dry oak-hickory forest occurs on elevated bedrock terraces above the Potomac River for several miles below Great Falls. These level to gently sloping metamorphic bedrock terraces are 12-15 m (40-50 feet) above the river level and are subject to very rare (30- to 85-year) flood events. The community is a stunted forest dominated by Carya glabra, Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, and Quercus prinus occurring with Fraxinus americana. Other characteristic woody species include Juniperus virginiana, Ostrya virginiana, Chionanthus virginicus, Viburnum rafinesquianum, Vaccinium stamineum, Vaccinium pallidum, and Ptelea trifoliata. The herbaceous layer is dense to moderately dense, species-rich, and usually dominated by grasses and sedges, especially Piptochaetium avenaceum, Danthonia spicata, and Carex albicans var. albicans. Spring ephemerals, such as Cardamine angustata (= Dentaria heterophylla), Erythronium americanum, Claytonia virginica, Corydalis flavula, and Phacelia dubia, are frequent, while lithophytes on and around rock outcrops include Arabis lyrata, Cardamine parviflora, Scutellaria saxatilis, and Asplenium platyneuron. The introduced invasive plants Microstegium vimineum, Vinca minor, Alliaria petiolata, and Lonicera japonica are problematic in most stands of the type. This community is distinguish by its unique environmental setting on ancient river terraces, its species composition indicative of high base substrate, and its high species richness, with values frequently ranging between 70 and 100 species per 400 square meters.



Classification

Classification Confidence: High
Classification Comments: This type is supported by quantitative analysis of 13 Maryland and 5 Virginia plots in a 1250-plot regional dataset assembled for the NCR parks vegetation mapping project.

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 Northeastern Oak - Hickory Forest & Woodland
Alliance Northeastern Oak - Hickory Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006216 Quercus alba - Carya glabra - Fraxinus americana / Muhlenbergia sobolifera - Elymus hystrix Forest
CEGL006495 Quercus rubra - Quercus shumardii / Cercis canadensis Floodplain 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
Maryland Carya glabra - Quercus (rubra, prinus) - Fraxinus americana / Viburnum rafinesquianum / Piptochaetium avenaceum Forest Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Carya glabra - Quercus (alba, rubra, montana) / Viburnum rafinesquianum / Melica mutica Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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]
Related Concept Name: Carya glabra - Quercus (alba, rubra, prinus) / Ostrya virginiana / Carex pensylvanica Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2003. Preliminary vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
Related Concept Name: Carya glabra - Quercus (rubra, montana) - Fraxinus americana / Viburnum rafinesquianum / Piptochaetium avenaceum Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]
Related Concept Name: Carya glabra - Quercus (rubra, prinus) - Fraxinus americana / Viburnum rafinesquianum / Piptochaetium avenaceum 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.
Related Concept Name: Carya glabra - Quercus (rubra, prinus, alba) / Ostrya virginiana / Panicum boscii Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Lea, C. 2000. Plant communities of the Potomac Gorge and their relationship to fluvial factors. M.S. thesis, George Mason University. Fairfax, VA. 219 pp.
Related Concept Name: Quercus (prinus, rubra, alba) - Carya glabra / Ostrya virginiana Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Thomson, D., A. M. Gould, and M. A. Berdine. 1999. Identification and protection of reference wetland natural communities in Maryland: Potomac watershed floodplain forests. The Biodiversity Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Division. Annapolis. 119 pp.
Related Concept Name: Basic Oak - Hickory Forest
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: Basic Oak-Hickory Forest (Potomac River Bedrock Terrace Type)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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]
Related Concept Name: Piedmont Hardpan 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.268 Piedmont Hardpan Woodland and Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1G2 (24Jan2005)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This type appears to be endemic to a portion of the Potomac Gorge in Maryland and Virginia that is geomorphically unusual and has a near-unique combination of environmental characteristics and natural disturbance regimes. The global extent of this community type is estimated to be less than 100 ha, and invasive introduced plants pose a significant threat to some of these stands. However, all known occurrences of the type are protected on National Park Service lands.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occur along the stretch of the Potomac River below Great Fall. It is found on both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the gorge.

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This community is an open forest of stunted (usually 15 m tall or less) trees. Carya glabra and several oaks (Quercus rubra, Quercus prinus, Quercus alba) and Fraxinus americana are codominant in the overstory. Quercus stellata, Pinus virginiana, Nyssa sylvatica, and Acer rubrum may be present at low cover. Juniperus virginiana and Ostrya virginiana are constant species at low cover in the understory. Chionanthus virginicus, Viburnum rafinesquianum, Vaccinium stamineum, Vaccinium pallidum, Cornus florida, and Ptelea trifoliata are common shrubs. The herbaceous layer is dense to moderately dense, species-rich, and usually dominated by grasses (Piptochaetium avenaceum (= Stipa avenacea), Melica mutica, Dichanthelium boscii, Dichanthelium laxiflorum, Dichanthelium commutatum, Dichanthelium dichotomum, Danthonia spicata, Bromus pubescens, and Muhlenbergia tenuiflora), and sedges (Carex albicans var. albicans, Carex pensylvanica, Carex swanii, Carex umbellata, Carex nigromarginata, Carex willdenowii, Carex woodii, Carex planispicata, Carex retroflexa, and Trichophorum planifolium). Typical forbs include Arabis laevigata, Tipularia discolor, Liparis liliifolia, Oxalis violacea, Amphicarpaea bracteata, Solidago caesia, and the spring ephemerals Cardamine angustata (= Dentaria heterophylla), Erythronium americanum, Claytonia virginica, and Corydalis flavula. Phacelia dubia, Arabis lyrata, Cardamine parviflora, Scutellaria saxatilis, and Asplenium platyneuron are frequent on and around rock outcrops. The introduced invasive plants Microstegium vimineum, Vinca minor, Alliaria petiolata, and Lonicera japonica are problematic in most stands of the type. Mean species richness of 18 plot samples was 70 taxa per 400 square meters (range = 46 to 111 taxa).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Carya glabra G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus americana G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus alba G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus prinus G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus rubra G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Viburnum rafinesquianum G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Alliaria petiolata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Scutellaria saxatilis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Solidago simplex var. racemosa G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Microstegium vimineum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Piptochaetium avenaceum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Lonicera japonica G1 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 
Vinca minor G1 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Scutellaria saxatilis
  (Rock Skullcap)
G3  
Solidago simplex var. racemosa
  (Racemose Goldenrod)
G5T3?  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This dry oak-hickory forest occupies level to gently sloping bedrock terraces of metamorphic rocks (schists and metagraywacke, with intrusions of amphibolite) along the stretch of the Potomac River below Great Falls. These terraces are 12-15 m (40-50 feet) above the average river level. Exposed bedrock may comprise from 1 to 45% of the surface. Sites are subjected to rare (average return interval of 30 to 85 years) scouring floods (Lea 2000). These catastrophic flood events are thought to deposit sediments rich in shell fragments which contribute to the high soil base status. However, soil samples collected from 15 plots were, on average, strongly or extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.6), with moderately low calcium and total base saturation levels. A few plots had much higher pH or calcium values, perhaps indicative of a somewhat heterogeneous soil environment induced by interbedded acidic and mafic rocks. Overall, soils are shallow, seasonally droughty sandy loams, with some organic horizon development.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Shallow, droughty soil over flat-lying bedrock appears to be the primary environmental factor driving the composition and physiognomy of this association. This habitat is subject to rare (every 30 to 85 years) catastrophic flood events which may remove soil, preventing deep soil accumulations.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): C. Lea
Element Description Edition Date: 24May2007
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming and K.D. Patterson
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 24Jan2005
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
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2007. Ecological communities of the Potomac Gorge in Virginia: Composition, floristics, and environmental dynamics. Natural Heritage Technical Report 07-12. Unpublished report submitted to the National Park Service. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 341 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., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2003. Preliminary vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2003. 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, Gary P. Personal communication. Ecologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.

  • Harrison, J. W. 2011. The natural communities of Maryland: 2011 working list of ecological community groups and community types. Unpublished report. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Natural Heritage Program, Annapolis. 33 pp.

  • 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.

  • Lea, C. 2000. Plant communities of the Potomac Gorge and their relationship to fluvial factors. M.S. thesis, George Mason University. Fairfax, VA. 219 pp.

  • Southworth, S., and D. Denenny. 2006. Geologic map of the national parks in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1331. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1331/]

  • Thomson, D., A. M. Gould, and M. A. Berdine. 1999. Identification and protection of reference wetland natural communities in Maryland: Potomac watershed floodplain forests. The Biodiversity Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Division. Annapolis. 119 pp.

  • 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.


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