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Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (prinus, alba) Forest
Translated Name: Eastern Hemlock - American Beech - (Chestnut Oak, White Oak) Forest
Common Name: Piedmont-Coastal Plain Eastern Hemlock - Hardwood Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006474
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is known from steep, north-facing sites along rivers and large streams in the Piedmont, and rarely the inner Coastal Plain, of Virginia and Maryland. It typically occurs on steep, sheltered bluffs, slopes, and ravines with northerly aspects and infertile soils weathered from acidic or intermediate metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Composition is usually that of a mixed forest, with overstory codominance by Tsuga canadensis, which is most abundant, and several hardwoods, most frequently Fagus grandifolia, Quercus alba, and/or Quercus prinus. Tsuga canadensis, Fagus grandifolia, and Quercus prinus are most constant, with Tsuga and Fagus typically having high cover in the understory and shrub, as well as overstory layers. Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus rubra, Acer rubrum, and Nyssa sylvatica are constant but minor overstory associates. Acer rubrum and Nyssa sylvatica also occur commonly in the understory. Quercus alba and Betula lenta are less constant in the overstory mixtures, but each is important in a subset of stands. True shrubs are often sparse but frequently include Viburnum acerifolium, Kalmia latifolia, Hamamelis virginiana, Rhododendron periclymenoides, and scrambling vines of Smilax rotundifolia. The herb layer is generally sparse to very sparse, but a number of species frequently occur at low cover, including Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Polystichum acrostichoides, Medeola virginiana, Dioscorea quaternata, Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Goodyera pubescens, and Carex digitalis. Less constant herbs that are occasionally important include Hexastylis virginica, Epigaea repens, Dryopteris marginalis, Polypodium virginianum, and Dennstaedtia punctilobula.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: The classification of this type was supported by analysis of data from 13 Virginia and Maryland plots during the National Capital Region Parks vegetation mapping project, plus observation data from additional sites.

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 Hemlock - Tuliptree Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006088 Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra Forest
CEGL006566 Quercus rubra - Tsuga canadensis - Liriodendron tulipifera / Hamamelis virginiana Forest
CEGL006638 Tsuga canadensis - Betula alleghaniensis - Acer saccharum / Dryopteris intermedia Forest
CEGL006639 Tsuga canadensis - Acer saccharum - Fagus grandifolia / Dryopteris intermedia Forest
CEGL008523 Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Vaccinium pallidum - (Rhododendron periclymenoides) Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (montana, alba) Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (prinus, alba) Forest
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.
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: Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Coulling, P. P. 1999. Eastern hemlock inventory and assessment for Prince William Forest Park, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 68 pp. plus appendices.
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]
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis - Quercus alba - Fagus grandifolia Forest
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.
Relationship: F - Finer
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: Tsuga canadensis - Quercus montana Forest
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.
Relationship: I - Intersecting
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: I - Intersecting
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: Tsuga canadensis - Quercus prinus Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 2002a. Ecological communities of the Bull Run Mountains, Virginia: Baseline vegetation and floristic data for conservation planning and natural area stewardship. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-12. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 274 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis / Hamamelis virginiana Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 2002b. Preliminary classification of Piedmont & Inner Coastal Plain vegetation types in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-14. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 29 pp.
Related Concept Name: Tsuga canadensis Piedmont Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Coulling, P. P. 1999. Eastern hemlock inventory and assessment for Prince William Forest Park, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 68 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Eastern Hemlock - Hardwood 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.
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
CES202.593 Appalachian (Hemlock)-Northern Hardwood Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2G3 (31May2007)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This association occurs in small patches and has high environmental specificity. There are probably fewer than 100 occurrences rangewide, and widespread degradation of stands by adelgid outbreaks raises doubt about long-term viability of the type.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, PA, VA, WVpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The type is known from steep, north-facing bluffs along rivers and large streams in the Piedmont, and rarely the inner Coastal Plain, of Virginia and 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: Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 231 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 231A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Composition is usually that of a mixed forest, with overstory codominance by Tsuga canadensis, which is most abundant, and several hardwoods, most frequently Fagus grandifolia, Quercus alba, and/or Quercus prinus. Tsuga canadensis, Fagus grandifolia, and Quercus prinus are most constant, with Tsuga and Fagus typically having high cover in the understory and shrub, as well as overstory layers. Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus rubra, Acer rubrum, and Nyssa sylvatica are constant but minor overstory associates. Acer rubrum and Nyssa sylvatica also occur commonly in the understory. Quercus alba and Betula lenta are less constant in the overstory mixtures, but each is important in a subset of stands. True shrubs are often sparse but frequently include Viburnum acerifolium, Kalmia latifolia, Hamamelis virginiana, Rhododendron periclymenoides, and scrambling vines of Smilax rotundifolia. The herb layer is generally sparse to very sparse, but a number of species frequently occur at low cover, including Eurybia divaricata, Polystichum acrostichoides, Medeola virginiana, Dioscorea quaternata, Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Goodyera pubescens, and Carex digitalis. Less constant herbs that are occasionally important include Hexastylis virginica, Epigaea repens, Dryopteris marginalis, Polypodium virginianum, and Dennstaedtia punctilobula. Species richness of 13 plot-sampled stands averaged 31 taxa per 400 square meters.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Fagus grandifolia G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus alba G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus prinus G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Tsuga canadensis G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community typically occurs on steep, sheltered, stream-fronting bluffs, slopes, and ravines with northerly aspects. Except on the few Coastal Plain sites, acidic or intermediate metamorphic or sedimentary bedrock underlies most sites. Rock outcrops or large boulders have moderate substrate cover (up to 15%) at some sites, and bryophyte cover is also often significant. Soils often have a thick organic surface horizon with a dense root mat. Samples collected from nine plots were extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.1), with low base saturation and cation status, except for high levels of iron and aluminum.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The restriction of hemlock-hardwood forests to steep, sheltered slopes in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain is likely a function of both a suitably cool microclimate and protection from fire and logging. Such sites have been hypothesized to be Pleistocene refugia, i.e., stations where Tsuga has persisted from a wider distribution in colder climates of the late Wisconsin and early Holocene (Nemeth 1973). However, paleoecological studies indicate that these hemlock communities became established later in the Holocene, when streams probably served as migration corridors for Tsuga as the climate warmed (Prentice et al. 1991). The introduced Asiatic insect hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is present in most, if not all, contemporary stands of this community. Outbreaks over the past two decades have caused at least some mortality of larger hemlocks in most stands, and some stands have been essentially devastated by the loss of most or all overstory hemlock. Increased sunlight from canopy gaps in these stands appears to have increased shrub densities, and likely contributes to less mesic site conditions, which decreases suitability for hemlock germination and growth. Although individual trees can be treated, there are currently no practical and economical treatments for forest stands.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 31May2007
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
  • Abrahamson, W. G., and A. C. Gohn. 2004. Classification and successional changes of mixed-oak forests at the Mohn Mill Area, Pennsylvania. Castanea 69(3):194-206.

  • Burns, R. M., and B. H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990a. Silvics of North America: Volume 1. Conifers. Agriculture Handbook 654. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 675 pp.

  • Coulling, P. P. 1999. Eastern hemlock inventory and assessment for Prince William Forest Park, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-08. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 68 pp. plus appendices.

  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2002a. Ecological communities of the Bull Run Mountains, Virginia: Baseline vegetation and floristic data for conservation planning and natural area stewardship. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-12. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 274 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2002b. Preliminary classification of Piedmont & Inner Coastal Plain vegetation types in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-14. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 29 pp.

  • 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., 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., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]

  • 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, 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. 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.

  • Mahan, C., K.L. Sullivan, B. Black, K.C. Kim, and R.H. Yahner. 2004. Overstory tree composition of eastern hemlock stands threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Castanea 69(1):30-37.

  • Nemeth, J. C. 1973. A mountain disjunct hemlock stand in the Piedmont of Virginia. Castanea 38:171-175.

  • Prentice, I. C., P. J. Bartlein, and T. Webb, III. 1991. Vegetation and climate change in eastern North America since the last glacial maximum. Ecology 72:2038-2056.

  • Zawadzkas, P. P., and W. G. Abrahamson. 2003. Composition and tree-size distributions of the Snyder-Middleswarth old-growth forest, Snyder County, Pennsylvania. Castanea 68:31-42.


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