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Platanus occidentalis - Acer saccharinum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Boehmeria cylindrica - Carex emoryi Floodplain Forest
Translated Name: American Sycamore - Silver Maple - Green Ash / Small-spike False Nettle - Emory's Sedge Floodplain Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian-Piedmont Bedrock Floodplain Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006476
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community is restricted to the Ridge and Valley and Piedmont sections of the Potomac River floodplain, where it occurs on scoured shorelines in high-gradient reaches where there is a combination of control by bedrock and alluvial processes. Stands are usually on the active channel shelf but have some aspects of depositional bars. Sites are flooded annually and inundated about 3 to 7% of the year, mostly during the dormant season, and often but probably irregularly in the early growing season. Surface substrate is variable, averaging >10% cover of bedrock and boulders in 14 plot samples. Two intergrading phases have been recognized and are described according to perceived differences in net rates of sediment erosion/accretion. In the eroding phase, the channel shelf surface is actively eroding along low channels often filled with cobbles and other coarse material, with finer soil being retained around tree bases. In the stable phase, vegetation holds finer sediments in place and provides an equilibrium between erosion and accretion. Stand physiognomy ranges from wooded herbaceous vegetation to nearly closed-canopy forest. In all expressions, some combination of Platanus occidentalis, Acer saccharinum, Betula nigra, and/or Fraxinus pennsylvanica dominate as the uppermost woody layer, which tends to be a woodland to open forest in the species-rich eroding phase and woodland or wooded herbaceous vegetation in the stable phase. Less constant species include Ulmus americana, Diospyros virginiana, Juglans nigra, Quercus bicolor, Populus deltoides, and Salix nigra. The shrub layer is absent to poorly developed, with battered individuals of Cornus amomum, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Salix caroliniana the most frequent true shrubs. Woody vines, including Toxicodendron radicans, Campsis radicans, and Vitis riparia, are frequent. The herb layer is diverse and variable. The most constant and characteristic herbs in 14 plot samples are Verbesina alternifolia, Boehmeria cylindrica, Polygonum punctatum, Eupatorium serotinum, Leersia virginica, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Carex emoryi (locally abundant in large clones), Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Polygonum virginianum, Teucrium canadense, Polygonum pensylvanicum, Symphyotrichum lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum (= Aster lanceolatus var. simplex), Pilea pumila, Chasmanthium latifolium, and Conoclinium coelestinum (= Eupatorium coelestinum).



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: In the Delaware variant of this community, Platanus occidentalis, Acer negundo, and Fraxinus pennsylvanica dominate the low canopy. Populus deltoides, Salix nigra, Betula nigra, Acer saccharinum, and Cephalanthus occidentalis are found in the lower "understory." Amorpha fruticosa dominates the shrub layer and is associated by Sambucus canadensis with lesser amounts of Ilex verticillata and Viburnum prunifolium. Vines are fairly common and include exotics Lonicera japonica, Celastrus orbiculata, and Wisteria sinensis. Many herbs are present but some of the more common ones are Dichanthelium clandestinum, Elymus riparius, Elymus virginicus, Perilla frutescens, Rudbeckia laciniata, and Eleocharis erythropoda on rocks.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.3 - Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Division 1.B.3.Na - Eastern North American-Great Plains Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Central Hardwood Floodplain Forest
Group Silver Maple - Sugarberry - Sweetgum Floodplain Forest
Alliance Central Appalachian-Piedmont Sycamore - Green Ash - Tuliptree Floodplain Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003896 Platanus occidentalis - Betula nigra - Salix (caroliniana, nigra) 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
Delaware Central Appalachian/Piedmont Bedrock Floodplain Woodland Equivalent Certain Coxe 2009


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Betula nigra / Andropogon gerardii - Panicum virgatum - Carex emoryi Woodland
Relationship: F - Finer
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: Platanus occidentalis - Acer saccharinum - Betula nigra - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Eupatorium fistulosum - (Carex emoryi) Woodland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Lea, C. 2003. Vegetation types in the National Capital Region Parks. Draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. March 2003. 140 pp.
Related Concept Name: Platanus occidentalis - Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Acer saccharinum - Betula nigra / Eupatorium serotinum - (Carex emoryi) Woodland
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: Ulmus americana - Betula nigra - Quercus bicolor / Eupatorium coelestinum Woodland
Relationship: F - Finer
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: River-Scour Woodland
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: Rocky Bar / Shore
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
CES202.608 Central Appalachian River Floodplain
CES202.609 Central Appalachian Stream and Riparian


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2? (05Oct2006)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This community is restricted to very specific environmental conditions on high-gradient rivershores with a combination of control by bedrock and alluvial processes. Known examples occur in small patches and are restricted to and scattered along approximately 170 miles of the Potomac River. Although additional occurrences may be found within the Potomac drainage or along other rivers, these are unlikely to dramatically increase the acreage covered by the type.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: DC, DE, MD, VA, WVpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The type is known from the higher gradient sections of the Potomac River, with well-documented stands concentrated in the fall-line (Potomac Gorge) and Ridge and Valley provinces. It may occur along the Shenandoah River but is unlikely to occur on the Monocacy River and other smaller tributaries. There is an unverified report of similar vegetation on the Susquehanna River below Conowingo Dam (C. Lea pers. comm. 2006).

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: Physiognomic and floristic expressions of this type are variable, with physiognomy ranging from wooded herbaceous vegetation to nearly closed-canopy forest. In all expressions, some combination of Platanus occidentalis, Acer saccharinum, Betula nigra, and/or Fraxinus pennsylvanica dominates the uppermost woody layer, which tends to be a woodland to open forest in the eroding phase and woodland or wooded herbaceous vegetation in the stable phase. Less constant species include Ulmus americana, Diospyros virginiana, Juglans nigra, Quercus bicolor, Populus deltoides, and Salix nigra. The shrub layer is absent to poorly developed, with battered individuals of Cornus amomum, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Salix caroliniana the most frequent true shrubs. Woody vines, including Toxicodendron radicans, Campsis radicans, and Vitis riparia, are frequent. The herb layer is diverse and variable. Characteristic herbs, in descending order of constancy in plot samples, include Verbesina alternifolia, Boehmeria cylindrica, Polygonum punctatum, Eupatorium serotinum, Leersia virginica, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Carex emoryi (locally abundant in large clones), Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Polygonum virginianum, Teucrium canadense, Polygonum pensylvanicum, Symphyotrichum lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum (= Aster lanceolatus var. simplex), Pilea pumila, Chasmanthium latifolium, Conoclinium coelestinum (= Eupatorium coelestinum), Elymus riparius, Solidago gigantea, Eupatorium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum, Eupatorium fistulosum, and Apocynum cannabinum. In drier expressions, Panicum virgatum, Andropogon gerardii, and other prairie species may be present. In the stable phase, rhizomatous species, primarily Carex emoryi but also Onoclea sensibilis, Boehmeria cylindrica, Dichanthelium clandestinum, and inconstantly Spartina pectinata, exhibit patch dominance; in the eroding phase these species are less prominent, evidently because of higher rates of substrate disturbance which may select for fast-growing but less strongly rhizomatous species. Species richness is dramatically higher in the eroding phase (mean in 14 plots = 102 taxa vs. 44 taxa). Although relatively well-defined, the two "phases" nevertheless have a high degree of floristic similarity and should be considered variants of a single association. This type is prone to invasion by the exotics Microstegium vimineum, Polygonum cuspidatum, Lysimachia nummularia, and Phalaris arundinacea.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharinum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Betula nigra G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Platanus occidentalis G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Baptisia australis var. australis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Boehmeria cylindrica G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lysimachia nummularia G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polygonum cuspidatum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Solidago simplex var. racemosa G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex emoryi G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Microstegium vimineum G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Phalaris arundinacea G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Baptisia australis var. australis
  (Blue Wild Indigo)
G5T3T4  
Solidago simplex var. racemosa
  (Racemose Goldenrod)
G5T3?  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs on scoured shorelines of high-gradient, large-river reaches where there is a combination of control by bedrock and alluvial processes. Stands are usually on the active channel shelf but have some aspects of depositional bars. Sites are flooded annually and inundated from 3 to 7% of the year, mostly during the dormant season, and often but probably irregularly in the early growing season. Surface substrate is variable, averaging >10% cover of bedrock and boulders in 14 plot samples. Two intergrading phases have been recognized and are described according to perceived differences in net rates of sediment erosion/accretion. In the eroding phase, the channel shelf surface is actively eroding along low channels often filled with cobbles and other coarse material, with finer soil being retained around tree bases. In the stable phase, vegetation holds finer sediments in place and provides an equilibrium between erosion and accretion. Soils are sandy loams to sands, with coarser textures prevailing in the eroding phase, which also often has a surface layer of cobbles.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): C. Lea
Element Description Edition Date: 17Apr2008
Element Description Author(s): C. Lea and G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 05Oct2006
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
  • Coxe, R. 2009. Guide to Delaware vegetation communities. Spring 2009 edition. State of Delaware, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna.

  • 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., 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., 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, G. P., and K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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.

  • Lea, C. 2003. Vegetation types in the National Capital Region Parks. Draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. March 2003. 140 pp.


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