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(Hypericum prolificum, Leucothoe racemosa) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Solidago simplex var. racemosa - Ionactis linariifolius Riverscour Sparse Vegetation
Translated Name: (Shrubby St. John's-wort, Swamp Doghobble) / Little Bluestem - Sticky Goldenrod - Flaxleaf Whitetop Aster Riverscour Sparse Vegetation
Common Name: Potomac Gorge Riverside Outcrop Barrens
Unique Identifier: CEGL006491
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This sparse outcrop vegetation of the Potomac Gorge in Virginia and Maryland occurs on metasedimentary and intrusive igneous rock exposures that are catastrophically flood-scoured. The habitat is variable, with small pools interspersed among shaded microhabitats and exposed xeric microhabitats. The vascular vegetation generally covers <5% of a given area and consists of scattered herbs and dwarfed shrubs. The most characteristic species are Schizachyrium scoparium, Solidago simplex var. racemosa (= Solidago racemosa), Dichanthelium acuminatum var. acuminatum, Ionactis linariifolius, and the shrubs Leucothoe racemosa and Hypericum prolificum. Other minor, inconstant species include Andropogon gerardii, Gaylussacia baccata, Juncus dichotomus, Phlox subulata, Veronicastrum virginicum, Hypericum gentianoides, Amelanchier nantucketensis, and Sporobolus clandestinus. Small pools and potholes support inclusions of wetland species, including Ludwigia alternifolia, Scirpus cyperinus, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Ludwigia palustris. Lichens, especially Xanthoparmelia conspersa, have very high cover on the rock surfaces. The bryophyte Grimmia laevigata is also important in areas with ephemeral seepage or surface water. This association is apparently endemic to the Potomac Gorge.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Classification of this type is supported by analysis of a 1250-plot regional dataset assembled for the NCR parks vegetation mapping project. This association is represented by 17 Maryland and Virginia plots from the Potomac Gorge.

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 Riverscour Vegetation
Group Central Interior-Appalachian Riverscour Barrens & Prairie
Alliance Appalachian Riverine Gravel Wash Prairie

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006283 Andropogon gerardii - Panicum virgatum - Baptisia australis Riverscour Wet Meadow
CEGL006284 Andropogon gerardii - Campanula rotundifolia - Solidago simplex Riverscour Sparse Vegetation
CEGL006478 Fraxinus americana / Andropogon gerardii - Sorghastrum nutans - Schizachyrium scoparium - Pycnanthemum tenuifolium Riverscour Wet Meadow



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 (Hypericum prolificum, Leucothoe racemosa) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Solidago simplex var. racemosa - Ionactis linariifolius Sparse Vegetation Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: (Hypericum prolificum, Leucothoe racemosa) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Solidago racemosa - Ionactis linariifolius Herbaceous Vegetation
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: Leucothoe racemosa - Gaylussacia baccata / Solidago simplex ssp. randii var. racemosa Sparse Shrubland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, Gary P. Personal communication. Ecologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.
Related Concept Name: Leucothoe racemosa / Schizachyrium scoparium - Solidago racemosa - Ionactis linariifolius Herbaceous Vegetation
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: Schizachyrium scoparium - Solidago simplex var. racemosa - Ionactis linariifolius Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Riverside Outcrop 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.608 Central Appalachian River Floodplain


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (31May2007)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This vegetation type and its flood-scoured outcrop habitat have always been rare and localized. Using current ranking standards, there are fewer than five discrete occurrences of this community rangewide, covering <25 ha in aggregate. In addition, inventory of potential habitats has been fairly rigorous, at least in the mid-Atlantic states. Most of the global range is on heavily used public (National Park Service) lands but is only partly protected from visitor impacts such as trampling.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is endemic to a 15-km stretch of the Potomac River valley in Maryland and Virginia.

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: The vascular vegetation generally covers <5% of a given area and consists of scattered herbs and dwarfed shrubs. The most characteristic species are Schizachyrium scoparium, Solidago simplex var. racemosa (= Solidago racemosa), Dichanthelium acuminatum var. acuminatum, Ionactis linariifolius, and the shrubs Leucothoe racemosa and Hypericum prolificum. Other minor, inconstant species include Andropogon gerardii, Gaylussacia baccata, Juncus dichotomus, Phlox subulata, Veronicastrum virginicum, Euphorbia corollata, Hypericum gentianoides, Amelanchier nantucketensis, and Sporobolus clandestinus. Small pools and potholes support inclusions of wetland species, including Ludwigia alternifolia, Scirpus cyperinus, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Ludwigia palustris. Lichens, especially Xanthoparmelia conspersa, have very high cover on the rock surfaces. The bryophyte Grimmia laevigata is also important in areas with ephemeral seepage or surface water. Mean species richness of 17 plot-sampled stands was 23 taxa per 100 square meters (range 12 to 36 taxa).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Amelanchier nantucketensis G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Leucothoe racemosa G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Hypericum prolificum G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Baptisia australis var. australis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Ionactis linariifolius G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Phlox subulata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago rupestris G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago simplex var. racemosa G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Andropogon gerardii G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Dichanthelium acuminatum var. acuminatum G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Amelanchier nantucketensis
  (Nantucket Shadbush)
G3Q  
Baptisia australis var. australis
  (Blue Wild Indigo)
G5T3T4  
Solidago simplex var. racemosa
  (Racemose Goldenrod)
G5T3?  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This sparse outcrop vegetation occurs on metasedimentary and intrusive igneous rock exposures that are catastrophically flood-scoured. Most of the global range is on exposed cliffs, ledges, and crags of the massive bedrock terraces that flank Great Falls and Mather Gorge for several miles below the falls. A few patches occur on exposed shoreline outcrops downstream of Mather Gorge. The habitat is variable, with small pools interspersed among shaded microhabitats and exposed xeric microhabitats. No extractable mineral soil is present in this environment, and plants are rooted in crevices, gravel and organic deposits, and bryophyte mats. According to Lea (2000, 2004), the mean flood-return interval varies from less than one year to about 10 years, and the substrate is violently scoured by larger floods.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The community is patchy, occurring in narrow, discontinuous strips bordering the river in a roughly 2 mile long river corridor.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M. Anderson, mod. G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 31May2007
Element Description Author(s): M. Anderson and G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 31May2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): C. Reschke, mod. 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., 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.

  • Grossman, D. H., K. Lemon Goodin, and C. L. Reuss, editors. 1994. Rare plant communities of the conterminous United States: An initial survey. The Nature Conservancy. Arlington, VA. 620 pp.

  • 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., and P. Stango, III. 2003. Shrubland tidal wetland communities of Maryland's Eastern Shore: Identification, assessment and monitoring. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 118 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/]

  • 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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