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Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum / Cystopteris bulbifera - Asarum canadense Forest
Translated Name: Appalachian Basswood - Yellow Buckeye - Sugar Maple / Bulblet Bladderfern - Canadian Wild Ginger Forest
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Limestone Rich Cove Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006472
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is currently known only from carbonate rock districts in the west-central and southwestern Virginia portions of the Ridge and Valley province, extending into peripheral areas on the flanks of the Southern Blue Ridge and Cumberland Mountains. Occurrences in limestone valleys of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee seem likely. Sites are restricted to mesic, fertile slopes underlain by limestone or dolomite, small outcrops, and loose talus which is often exposed. Habitats are usually situated on lower to middle slopes subtending streams in low-elevation (<700 m [2200 feet]) montane valleys, coves, and gorges. Slopes are steep to extremely steep (mean = 33), usually with north to east aspects. Bedrock outcrops are frequent, and significant subsurface lateral seepage may occur seasonally at some sites. Substrate varies from site to site, but generally consists of a mosaic of deep colluvial soil and fine talus or scree that is somewhat to very loose and unstable. Soils collected from plot samples are circumneutral, with very high calcium, magnesium, and total base saturation levels. Stands have a variable overstory composition, with Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Aesculus flava, Acer saccharum, and Fraxinus americana consistently important. Other less constant or abundant trees that may be important in some stands include Ulmus rubra, Carya cordiformis, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus muehlenbergii, Quercus rubra, Acer nigrum, Thuja occidentalis, and Celtis occidentalis. On several unusually sheltered, north-facing slopes, Tsuga canadensis is a codominant in the canopy mix. The understory and shrub layers of this community tend to be open or sparse, but patches of Staphylea trifolia and Lindera benzoin are frequent, along with climbing lianas of Aristolochia macrophylla. The herb layer is lush and diverse, with an array of patch-dominants that vary both among and within stands. On rockier substrates, Cystopteris bulbifera is consistently abundant, often covering up to 50% of an individual plot sample. More-or-less constant herbs that achieve >10% in one or more plots include Asarum canadense, Solidago flexicaulis, Osmorhiza claytonii, Actaea racemosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Laportea canadensis, Impatiens pallida, Polymnia canadensis, Hydrophyllum canadense, Jeffersonia diphylla, Thalictrum dioicum, Viola canadensis, Phacelia bipinnatifida, Dicentra canadensis, Dicentra cucullaria, Trillium grandiflorum, Delphinium tricorne, Stellaria corei, and Meehania cordata. Other characteristic herbs that usually occur at low cover are Arisaema triphyllum, Sedum ternatum, Cardamine concatenata, Polystichum acrostichoides, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta (= Hepatica acutiloba), Mitella diphylla, Asplenium rhizophyllum, Adiantum pedatum, Uvularia grandiflora, Prosartes lanuginosa, Prosartes maculata, Podophyllum peltatum, Carex albursina, Hybanthus concolor, Trillium sulcatum, Synandra hispidula, and Stylophorum diphyllum.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: Virginia Natural Heritage have now inventoried and sampled many examples of this community in southwest Virginia, and although most sites are rocky, it is not always a "talus" forest but more of a general rich cove forest. Virginia has changed their state name to Southern Appalachian Limestone Rich Cove Forest. The classification was initially supported by analysis of data from eight plots as part of the National Capital Region Parks project. During this project, these plots were examined in a regional (Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia) dataset, along with other plots representing rich talus forest vegetation. The analysis supported this type as distinct from other Central Appalachian rich boulderfields. In a more recent regional analysis for the Appalachian Trail vegetation mapping project (1134 Southern Appalachian plots) (Fleming and Patterson 2009a) and a Virginia statewide analysis of upland montane forests and woodlands (1300 plots) (Fleming and Patterson 2009b), this association was represented by 24 plots from southwestern Virginia. Through extensive field work and these analyses, this type is currently treated as a concept that encompasses a range of substrate conditions, from boulderfields to deep soils.

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-Interior-Northeastern Mesic Forest
Group Appalachian-Central Interior Mesic Forest
Alliance Southern Appalachian Mesophytic Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL005222 Liriodendron tulipifera - Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum / (Magnolia tripetala) Forest
CEGL006201 Acer saccharum - Liriodendron tulipifera - Fraxinus americana / Staphylea trifolia Forest
CEGL006471 Acer saccharum - Tilia americana / Staphylea trifolia / Dryopteris marginalis - (Impatiens pallida) Forest
CEGL007695 Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum - (Tilia americana var. heterophylla) / Hydrophyllum canadense - Solidago flexicaulis Forest
CEGL007710 Liriodendron tulipifera - Fraxinus americana - (Aesculus flava) / Actaea racemosa - Laportea canadensis Forest
CEGL007711 Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Fraxinus americana / Sanguinaria canadensis - (Aquilegia canadensis, Asplenium rhizophyllum) Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acer (nigrum, saccharum) - Tilia americana - (Aesculus flava) / Staphylea trifolia / Cystopteris bulbifera Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
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]
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.
Related Concept Name: Tilia americana / Staphylea trifolia / Cystopteris bulbifera Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 1999. Plant communities of limestone, dolomite, and other calcareous substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-4. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 218 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Acer saccharum - Aesculus flava / Cystopteris bulbifera Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum / Staphylea trifolia / Cystopteris bulbifera - Asarum canadense Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Rich Cove / Slope 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
CES202.373 Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (31May2007)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: The known distribution of this community is restricted to a small portion of the Central Appalachian / Ridge and Valley region. However, within that area the type is frequent and occasionally forms large patches. There are probably more than 100 occurrences within the known range and potentially many more.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The type is currently known only from carbonate rock districts in the west-central and southwestern Virginia portions of the Ridge and Valley province, extending into peripheral areas on the flanks of the Southern Blue Ridge and Cumberland Mountains. Since similar limestone valleys are found in adjacent areas of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, occurrences in those states seem likely. Similar vegetation has been observed in southeastern West Virginia (D.P. Walton pers. comm.).

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: Central Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: 221J Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Cumberland Mountains Section
Section Code: M221C Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Stands have a variable overstory composition, with Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Aesculus flava, Acer saccharum, and Fraxinus americana consistently important. Other less constant or abundant trees that may be important in some stands include Ulmus rubra, Carya cordiformis, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus muehlenbergii, Quercus rubra, Acer nigrum, Thuja occidentalis, and Celtis occidentalis. On several unusually sheltered, north-facing slopes, Tsuga canadensis is a codominant in the canopy mix. The understory and shrub layers of this community tend to be open or sparse, but patches of Staphylea trifolia and Lindera benzoin are frequent, along with climbing lianas of Aristolochia macrophylla. The herb layer is lush and diverse, with an array of patch-dominants that vary both among and within stands. On rockier substrates, Cystopteris bulbifera is consistently abundant, often covering up to 50% of an individual plot sample. More-or-less constant herbs that achieve >10% in one or more plots include Asarum canadense, Solidago flexicaulis, Osmorhiza claytonii, Actaea racemosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Laportea canadensis, Impatiens pallida, Polymnia canadensis, Hydrophyllum canadense, Jeffersonia diphylla, Thalictrum dioicum, Viola canadensis, Phacelia bipinnatifida, Dicentra canadensis, Dicentra cucullaria, Trillium grandiflorum, Delphinium tricorne, Stellaria corei, and Meehania cordata. Other characteristic herbs that usually occur at low cover are Arisaema triphyllum, Sedum ternatum, Cardamine concatenata, Polystichum acrostichoides, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta (= Hepatica acutiloba), Mitella diphylla, Asplenium rhizophyllum, Adiantum pedatum, Uvularia grandiflora, Prosartes lanuginosa, Prosartes maculata, Podophyllum peltatum, Carex albursina, Hybanthus concolor, Trillium sulcatum, Synandra hispidula, and Stylophorum diphyllum. Species richness of 24 plot-sampled stands ranges from 21 to 95 taxa per 400 square meters (mean = 58).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Aesculus flava G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus americana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Tilia americana var. heterophylla G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Lindera benzoin G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Staphylea trifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Cystopteris bulbifera G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Aristolochia macrophylla G3 Liana Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: Sites for this community are restricted to mesic, fertile slopes underlain by limestone or dolomite, small outcrops, and loose talus which is often exposed. Habitats are usually situated on lower to middle slopes subtending streams in low-elevation (<700 m [2200 feet]) montane valleys, coves, and gorges. Slopes are steep to extremely steep (mean = 33), usually with north to east aspects. Bedrock outcrops are frequent, and significant subsurface lateral seepage may occur seasonally at some sites. Substrate varies from site to site, but generally consists of a mosaic of deep colluvial soil and fine talus or scree that is somewhat to very loose and unstable. At sites where fine bouldery colluvium is abundant, there is often a mantle of colluvial soil covering the rocks; in places where large, coarse talus is abundant, soils are primarily interstitial. Overall, exposed rock cover averages about 32% in 16 plot samples. High cover of bryophytes and mesophytic lichens is characteristic on exposed rocks. Soils collected from plot samples indicate very high fertility, with a mean pH of 7.0, 100% mean total base saturation, and very high mean concentrations of calcium (3894 ppm) and magnesium (848 ppm).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Distinguishing features of this community are its restriction to areas underlain by carbonate rocks (limestone and dolomite); its affiliation with steep, mesic, often bouldery/gravelly habitats in valleys, gorges, and coves; the infrequency of Quercus spp.; and the abundance of Cystopteris bulbifera and other obligate calciphiles, along with a generally lush and diverse herb layer with variable patch-dominance by several nutrient-demanding forbs. Although the mean species richness is comparable to that of many other rich cove and slope forests, the herbaceous cover of this type may be locally less dense where very rocky substrates prevail. However, due to the relatively rapid weathering of carbonate minerals and extremely fertile soils, even these microhabitats are typically well-vegetated with herbaceous plants, among which lithophytes such as Cystopteris bulbifera, Asplenium rhizophyllum, Sedum ternatum, and Mitella diphylla are prominent.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 22Dec2011
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 31May2007
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. 1999. Plant communities of limestone, dolomite, and other calcareous substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-4. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 218 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. 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.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. 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, 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.

  • Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.


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