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Carpinus caroliniana - Ilex decidua Wet Shrubland
Translated Name: American Hornbeam - Possum-haw Wet Shrubland
Common Name: Piedmont Riverscour Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CEGL006484
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association has been documented only in the eastern Piedmont region of Maryland and Virginia, where it is restricted to high-gradient stretches of the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. It occupies protected areas (eroding draws, ravines, downstream sides of large outcrops) on the flanks of rocky bluffs and bedrock terraces that are periodically scoured by powerful floods, and occasionally occurs on sand- and boulder-covered flats on the active channel shelf. The vegetation is characterized by partially open to dense thickets of shrubs and shrubby trees generally less than 6 m tall. The species richness of the woody layers is high. Carpinus caroliniana and Ilex decidua are both present and usually codominant. Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Fraxinus americana, Robinia pseudoacacia, Diospyros virginiana, Viburnum prunifolium, Hypericum prolificum, Quercus rubra, and Nyssa sylvatica are also frequent. Less constant shrubs and small trees that occasionally achieve moderate cover include Ilex verticillata, Ostrya virginiana, Physocarpus opulifolius, and Viburnum dentatum. Vines are common, with Campsis radicans, Toxicodendron radicans, and/or Parthenocissus quinquefolia often present. The herbaceous layer is species-rich and variable, with a more diverse assemblage of species present at low cover where soils are shallow over rocks, and dominance by a more limited number of species, particularly Chasmanthium latifolium, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Elymus virginicus, and Cerastium arvense, where soils are deep. Lonicera japonica, as well as the exotic herbs Saponaria officinalis and Lespedeza cuneata, can be invasive.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Classification of this type is based partly on analysis of data from seven plot samples collected along the Potomac (5 plots) and Rappahannock (2 plots) rivers. Composition of this group of plots is quite heterogeneous but strongly united by similar habitats, comparable physiognomy, and a suite of 26 species (mostly woody) with >70% constancy. Although associated with very specialized habitats and potentially very rare, the fact that this vegetation has been documented from two different mid-Atlantic river systems argues for recognition as an USNVC association.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Nd - Eastern North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Eastern North American Wet Shoreline Vegetation
Group Eastern North American Riverine Wetland Vegetation
Alliance Black Willow Riverscour Scrub

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



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 Carpinus caroliniana - Ilex decidua Shrubland Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Carpinus caroliniana - Ilex decidua - Fraxinus pennsylvanica Shrubland
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: Carpinus caroliniana - Ilex decidua Shrubland
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: 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
CES202.324 Southern Piedmont Large Floodplain Forest
CES202.608 Central Appalachian River Floodplain


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1? (30May2007)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This association is known only from scoured, rocky riversides in fall-line and eastern Piedmont gorges of the Potomac River (Maryland and Virginia) and Rappahannock River (Virginia). It occurs in small patches under localized environmental conditions at both sites, which are on Federal and state lands, respectively. Additional occurrences are possible in other Piedmont river systems, but would likely not increase the acreage of the type significantly.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association has been documented only in the eastern Piedmont region of Maryland and Virginia, where it is restricted to high-gradient stretches of the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers.

Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The type is characterized by partially open to dense thickets of shrubs and shrubby trees generally less than 6 m tall. The species richness of the woody layers is high. Carpinus caroliniana and Ilex decidua are both present and usually codominant. Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Fraxinus americana, Robinia pseudoacacia, Diospyros virginiana, Viburnum prunifolium, Hypericum prolificum, Quercus rubra, and Nyssa sylvatica are also frequent. Less constant shrubs and small trees that occasionally achieve moderate cover include Ilex verticillata, Ostrya virginiana, Physocarpus opulifolius, and Viburnum dentatum. Vines are common, with Campsis radicans, Toxicodendron radicans, and/or Parthenocissus quinquefolia often present. The herbaceous layer is species-rich and variable, with a more diverse assemblage of species present at low cover where soils are shallow over rocks, and dominance by a more limited number of species, particularly Chasmanthium latifolium, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Elymus virginicus, and Cerastium arvense, where soils are deep. Lonicera japonica, as well as the exotic herbs Saponaria officinalis and Lespedeza cuneata, can be invasive.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Carpinus caroliniana G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Ilex decidua G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Lespedeza cuneata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Saponaria officinalis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Solidago simplex var. racemosa G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lonicera japonica G1 Liana Herb (field)      
 
 


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


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: The community occupies protected areas (eroding draws, ravines, downstream sides of large outcrops) in the bedrock-controlled channel of Potomac River in Mather Gorge (reach about 5 km immediately below Great Falls on the Maryland side), where shallow to deep coarse sands are deposited during large floods. Traces of this vegetation were observed along a somewhat lower gradient (but also bedrock-controlled) reach just downstream from Violette's Lock, about 11 km upstream from Great Falls. Some occurrences are located in infrequently flooded, rocky drainage channels that are moist enough and protected enough to allow woody vegetation to persist, but that experience tree-damaging flood debris regularly enough to produce thicket-like growths of shrubs and trees. A single stand documented on the Virginia side of Mather Gorge occupies a linear ecotonal area at the foot of a massive bluff, on periodically scoured outcrops between the river and the forested slope above. Stands along the Rappahannock River in Fauquier and Culpeper counties, Virginia, occur on a bouldery slope with some diabase outcrops at the foot of a bluff bordering the river, as well as on sand- and boulder-covered flats on the active channel shelf. Flooding regime is temporarily flooded, with a probable mean return interval of from 1 to 15 years. Sites can be seasonally somewhat dry.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): C. Lea
Element Description Edition Date: 30May2007
Element Description Author(s): C. Lea and G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 30May2007
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., 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., 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. 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.

  • Lea, C. 2004. Draft vegetation types in National Capital Region Parks. Edited by S.C. Gawler and J. Teague. Working draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. July 2004. 157 pp.


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