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Quercus rubra - Fraxinus americana - Acer saccharum / Actaea racemosa - Caulophyllum thalictroides Forest
Translated Name: Northern Red Oak - White Ash - Sugar Maple / Black Baneberry - Blue Cohosh Forest
Common Name: Southern Appalachian High-Elevation Red Oak Forest (Rich Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL004256
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This is a rich, high-elevation red oak forest that occurs on amphibolite or other mafic rock in the Southern Blue Ridge of North Carolina and possibly adjacent Tennessee. Quercus rubra is constant and dominant but sometimes only weakly so. Fraxinus americana and Acer saccharum are generally abundant and have high constancy. Carya species are generally abundant. Quercus alba, Quercus prinus, and Prunus serotina are fairly frequent and sometimes abundant. Other mesophytic trees such as Betula lenta, Betula alleghaniensis, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, and Aesculus flava are sometimes present.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: These communities have been treated as part of Quercus rubra / (Vaccinium simulatum, Rhododendron calendulaceum) / (Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Thelypteris noveboracensis) Forest (CEGL007300) but are quite distinct floristically. An analysis of data from Virginia and North Carolina supports the hypothesis that it is sufficiently distinct from the Central Appalachian Quercus rubra - Carya ovata - Fraxinus americana / Actaea racemosa - Hydrophyllum virginianum Forest (CEGL008518) to be recognized as a distinct association.

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-Northeastern Oak - Hardwood - Pine Forest & Woodland
Group Appalachian Oak / Chestnut Forest
Alliance Montane Oak Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL007878 Quercus rubra - Tilia americana var. heterophylla - (Halesia tetraptera var. monticola) / Collinsonia canadensis - Prosartes lanuginosa Forest
CEGL008518 Quercus rubra - Carya ovata - Fraxinus americana / Actaea racemosa - Hydrophyllum virginianum 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
North Carolina High Elevation Red Oak Forest (Rich Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012



Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.596 Central and Southern Appalachian Montane Oak Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (11Dec2007)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This association is restricted to rare sites where amphibolite occurs at high elevations (most examples are found between 1270 and 1525 m [4200-5000 feet]).

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NC, TNpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community type is known from several scattered locations in the Southern Blue Ridge of North Carolina. It is most extensive in the Amphibolite Mountains of Ashe and Watauga counties but occurs in small amounts in the Craggy Mountains, Great Balsam Mountains, and possibly the Roan Mountain area. A few examples may possibly occur in adjacent Tennessee.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
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: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Quercus rubra is constant and dominant but sometimes only weakly dominant. Fraxinus americana and Acer saccharum are generally abundant and have high constancy. Some Carya species (most often Carya glabra or Carya ovata) are generally abundant. Quercus alba, Quercus prinus, and Prunus serotina are fairly frequent and sometimes abundant. Other mesophytic trees such as Betula lenta, Betula alleghaniensis, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, and Aesculus flava are sometimes present. The subcanopy is generally dominated by the same species, although Ostrya virginiana, Acer pensylvanicum, and other small trees are often present. The shrub layer is open, with species composition variable. The herb layer is lush and diverse compared to other communities in similar topographic settings. It includes a mix of forbs typical of rich mesic sites as well as more widespread species of high elevations. Actaea racemosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Prosartes lanuginosa, and Collinsonia canadensis are the most constant base-loving species, and Maianthemum racemosum, Solidago curtisii, Arisaema triphyllum, Silene stellata, Eurybia chlorolepis, and Symphyotrichum cordifolium are other common herbs. Other species with lower constancy include Convallaria majuscula (= Convallaria montana), Impatiens pallida, Solidago flexicaulis, Asclepias exaltata, Uvularia perfoliata, Tradescantia subaspera, Aquilegia canadensis, Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus (= Streptopus roseus), Osmunda claytoniana, and Botrychium virginianum.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Betula lenta G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Carya cordiformis G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Carya glabra G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus rubra G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Tilia americana var. heterophylla G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Fraxinus americana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy  
 
 
Acer pensylvanicum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Ostrya virginiana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Cornus alternifolia G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Hydrangea arborescens G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Actaea racemosa G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Aralia nudicaulis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Caulophyllum thalictroides G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Collinsonia canadensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Eurybia chlorolepis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Helianthus glaucophyllus G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Prenanthes roanensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Prosartes lanuginosa G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Silene ovata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Silene stellata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Symphyotrichum cordifolium G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Tradescantia subaspera var. montana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Osmunda claytoniana G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Phegopteris hexagonoptera G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Ageratina altissima var. roanensis
  (Appalachian White Snakeroot)
G5T3T4  
Helianthus glaucophyllus
  (Whiteleaf Sunflower)
G3G4  
Prenanthes roanensis
  (Roan Mountain Rattlesnake-root)
G3  
Silene ovata
  (Ovate Catchfly)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community occurs in exposed topographic settings at high elevations in the Southern Blue Ridge where the substrate is amphibolite or other mafic rock. Examples range from 970 to 1680 m (3200-5500 feet) elevation, with most examples between 1270 and 1525 m (4200-5000 feet). It is generally found on ridgetops or south- and west-facing slopes. All known examples appear to occur on amphibolite. High base status in the soil is likely a crucial factor in the occurrence of this association.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Canopies naturally exist as uneven-aged old-growth forests, with tree regeneration occurring in small to moderate-sized canopy gaps created by wind, ice damage, lightning, or fire. As with other Southern Blue Ridge high-elevation red oak forests, this association frequently shows a lack of oak regeneration and a dense understory of more mesophytic species that capture canopy gaps. Fire is believed to be important for maintaining oak dominance by reducing this understory and favoring oak advanced regeneration, but the natural frequency of fire is not well-known. Castanea dentata was once present in at least some examples, perhaps most. Examples have been altered by its removal as a canopy species. Most examples have also been affected by logging, but logging was often selective. Forest grazing was widespread and may have affected all examples.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.P. Schafale
Element Description Edition Date: 03Dec2008
Element Description Author(s): M.P. Schafale
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 11Dec2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M.P. Schafale

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • NCNHP [North Carolina Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data. North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. P. 2012. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina, 4th Approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, Mike P. Personal communication. Ecologist, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.


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