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Juniperus virginiana - Pinus virginiana / Smilax rotundifolia Serpentine Forest
Translated Name: Eastern Red-cedar - Virginia Pine / Roundleaf Greenbrier Serpentine Forest
Common Name: Red-cedar - Virginia Pine / Greenbrier Serpentine Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006440
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This serpentine plant community of Pennsylvania and Maryland is associated with soils derived from weathered serpentine bedrock and typically occurs on the upper portions of moderate to steep slopes (typically 5-25) commonly with a northerly and/or easterly aspect. Soils are typically well-drained and somewhat moist to dry. Soil texture is characteristically silt loam or clay loam and may be stony to stone-free. Soil depth varies from 4 cm to >30 cm but is typically 10 to 20 cm deep. The dominant canopy trees are Pinus virginiana and Juniperus virginiana. Sassafras albidum and Acer rubrum also are present but are not abundant in the canopy. The low-shrub layer is sparse and consists mainly of occasional hardwood seedlings. The dense shade of the conifer overstory and the accumulation of needle litter have produced a depauperate herbaceous layer. Smilax rotundifolia is the dominant species in the herbaceous layer and also acts as a liana, climbing into the conifer canopy and forming an often impenetrable curtain. Characteristic herbaceous species include Microstegium vimineum, Danthonia spicata, and Polystichum acrostichoides.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This and a number of other serpentine vegetation community types were described by Podniesinski et al. (1999); subsequently, former Pinus rigida / Schizachyrium scoparium - Scleria pauciflora Wooded Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL006159) was archived as the type was too broad given the more recent data describing more specific community types occurring within the eastern serpentine barrens.

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 Pitch Pine Serpentine Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006266 Pinus virginiana / Quercus marilandica Serpentine Ruderal Forest
CEGL006290 Pinus rigida - Quercus (velutina, prinus) Forest
CEGL006316 Deschampsia caespitosa - Vernonia noveboracensis Serpentine Seep
CEGL006438 Acer rubrum - Quercus spp. / Smilax spp. Serpentine Forest
CEGL006439 Acer rubrum - Pinus virginiana - Pinus rigida / Smilax spp. Serpentine Forest
CEGL006441 Sorghastrum nutans - Schizachyrium scoparium Serpentine Grassland
CEGL006442 Schizachyrium scoparium - Sporobolus heterolepis Serpentine Grassland



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
Pennsylvania Serpentine Virginia Pine - Oak Forest Broader   Fike 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Serpentine Barren
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: Smith's Eastern Serpentine Barren
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Podniesinski, G., A. Leimanis, and J. Ebert. 1999. Serpentine plant community classification. Unpublished data. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pittsburgh, PA. 14 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.347 Eastern Serpentine Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1G2 (20Sep2005)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: New ranking will need to be developed for each serpentine association.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, PA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs in serpentine barrens located within Chester and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania and Cecil County in Maryland.

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: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 232 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The dominant canopy trees are Pinus virginiana and Juniperus virginiana. Sassafras albidum and Acer rubrum also are present but are not abundant in the canopy. The low-shrub layer is sparse and consists mainly of occasional hardwood seedlings. The dense shade of the conifer overstory and the accumulation of needle litter have produced a depauperate herbaceous layer. Smilax rotundifolia is the dominant species in the herbaceous layer and also acts as a liana, climbing into the conifer canopy and forming an often impenetrable curtain. Characteristic herbaceous species include Microstegium vimineum, Danthonia spicata, and Polystichum acrostichoides.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Juniperus virginiana G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Pinus virginiana G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Microstegium vimineum G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Smilax rotundifolia G1 Liana Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This serpentine plant community is associated with soils derived from weathered serpentine bedrock and typically occurs on the upper portions of moderate to steep slopes (typically 5-25) commonly with a northerly and/or easterly aspect. Soils are typically well-drained and somewhat moist to dry. Soil texture is characteristically silt loam or clay loam and may be stony to stone-free. Soil depth varies from 4 cm to >30 cm but is typically 10 to 20 cm deep.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This plant community is adapted to the weathering of serpentine bedrock. It was once thought that the lack of canopy cover was maintained by the unique edaphic features of the chrome series soils, but in the last 20 years, many sites have been invaded by dense Pinus virginiana (Tyndall 1992a). In this community, Virginia pine and eastern red-cedar are the canopy dominants. This phenomenon dramatically alters the light regime and promotes substantial soil development (up to 10 cm in 20 years). Under these conditions, an entirely different community develops as the influence of the bedrock is buffered by the soil/litter accumulation. This closed-canopy serpentine forest exhibits a dense understory of Smilax rotundifolia. Some of the characteristic herbaceous serpentine species apparently persist in the ground layer as scattered non-flowering individuals; other populations appear to die out but may persist in the seed bank. Selective cutting has been effective in restoring degraded sites to their previous composition and structure, but most researchers believe that without regular burning to prevent soil development the serpentine plant communities will not persist. There is substantial evidence that most of the existing areas were regularly burned by Native Americans (Marye 1920, 1955a, 1955b, 1955c) and perhaps maintained by grazing after European settlement.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G. Podniesinski, A. Leimanis, and J. Ebert (1999)
Element Description Edition Date: 20Sep2005
Element Description Author(s): G. Podniesinski, A. Leimanis, J. Ebert, M. Anderson
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20Sep2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): L.A. Sneddon and E.F. Largay

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.

  • Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation, Bureau of Forestry, Harrisburg, PA. 86 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.

  • Marye, W. B. 1920. The old Indian road. Maryland Historical Magazine 15:107-124, 208-229, 345-395.

  • Marye, W. B. 1955a. The great Maryland barrens I. Maryland Historical Magazine 50:11-23.

  • Marye, W. B. 1955b. The great Maryland barrens II. Maryland Historical Magazine 50:124-142.

  • Marye, W. B. 1955c. The great Maryland barrens III. Maryland Historical Magazine 50:234-253.

  • Podniesinski, G., A. Leimanis, and J. Ebert. 1999. Serpentine plant community classification. Unpublished data. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pittsburgh, PA. 14 pp.

  • Smith, T. L. No date (a). Natural ecological communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory, East, Harrisburg, PA. 97 pp.

  • Tyndall, R. W. 1989. Aerial photo analysis of woody plant succession in eight Delmarva bays. Unpublished report for The Nature Conservancy. MD. 10 pp.

  • Tyndall, R. W. 1992a. Historical considerations of conifer expansion in Maryland serpentine "barrens." Castanea 57:123-131.

  • Tyndall, R. W., and P. M. Farr. 1989. Vegetation structure and flora of a serpentine pine-cedar savanna in Maryland. Castanea 54:191-199.


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