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Betula nigra - Quercus laurifolia - Taxodium (distichum, ascendens) / Crataegus aestivalis Riparian Forest
Translated Name: River Birch - Laurel Oak - (Bald-cypress, Pond-cypress) / May Hawthorn Riparian Forest
Common Name: Atlantic Coastal Plain Blackwater Levee/Bar Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL004282
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association occurs on relatively young deposits of sand along blackwater rivers, generally on point bars, but sometimes as a poorly developed natural levee along other portions of the river. These substrates are older and more stable than those of the open sand bar communities but younger than those of other floodplain communities. Vegetation is of varying structure, ranging from forest to woodland, often with leaning trees and no clearly defined strata. The canopy is generally dominated by Betula nigra, Taxodium sp., and various bottomland oaks. Crataegus aestivalis, Fraxinus caroliniana, and in more southerly areas, Planera aquatica are often present. Shrubs are generally sparse, but patches of Cyrilla racemiflora, Alnus serrulata, Vaccinium elliottii, or other species of riverbanks or bottomland hardwoods may be present. Herbs are generally sparse. They most typically include species of open bars, such as Panicum rigidulum, and may also include species of swamps, such as Polygonum spp. (= Persicaria spp.) and Hymenocallis spp.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This community is a blackwater equivalent to Betula nigra - Platanus occidentalis / Alnus serrulata / Boehmeria cylindrica Floodplain Forest (CEGL007312) of brownwater rivers. Because natural levees are not well-developed on blackwater rivers, it is also the closest equivalent to Platanus occidentalis - Celtis laevigata - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Ilex decidua / Carex retroflexa Floodplain Forest (CEGL007730), Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus americana / Carpinus caroliniana / Boehmeria cylindrica Floodplain Forest (CEGL007806), and the other brownwater levee forest associations. Its structure ranges from forest to woodland, often within the same small patch. It is readily distinguished by Betula nigra, which is largely absent from other blackwater floodplain communities. Other characteristic levee or bar species, such as Platanus occidentalis, are generally absent on blackwater rivers.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.3 - Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Division 1.B.3.Nb - Southeastern North American Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Southern Coastal Plain Floodplain Forest
Group Oak - Sweetgum Floodplain Forest
Alliance Coastal Plain Oak - Loblolly Pine Riparian Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004505 Taxodium distichum - Betula nigra / Cyrilla racemiflora - Sebastiania fruticosa Floodplain Forest
CEGL007312 Betula nigra - Platanus occidentalis / Alnus serrulata / Boehmeria cylindrica Floodplain 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 Blackwater Levee/Bar Forest Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
South Carolina Bald cypress - tupelo gum swamp Broader   Nelson 1986


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Blackwater Levee/Bar Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.247 Atlantic Coastal Plain Blackwater Stream Floodplain Forest
CES203.249 Atlantic Coastal Plain Small Blackwater River Floodplain Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2G3 (12Jan2009)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GApotentially occurs, NC, SC
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is found in southern North Carolina, South Carolina, and potentially farther south in the Outer Coastal Plain.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 232 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Vegetation is of varying structure. Canopy density ranges from forest to woodland. Trees often lean toward the river, and trees rooted in this community may extend out over the channel. Trees may be a mix of recently established young individuals and a few large old individuals. There is generally not a well-defined overstory and subcanopy. The canopy is dominated by Betula nigra, Taxodium sp., Quercus laurifolia, and Quercus lyrata. Crataegus aestivalis, Fraxinus caroliniana, and in more southerly areas, Planera aquatica are often present. Shrubs are generally sparse, but patches of Cyrilla racemiflora, Alnus serrulata, Vaccinium elliottii, or other species of riverbanks or bottomland hardwoods may be present. Herbs are generally sparse. They most typical include species of open bars, such as Panicum rigidulum, and may also include species of swamps, such as Polygonum spp. (= Persicaria spp.) and Hymenocallis spp.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Betula nigra G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus laurifolia G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus lyrata G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Taxodium ascendens G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Taxodium distichum G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Crataegus aestivalis G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs on relatively young deposits of sand along blackwater rivers, generally on point bars, but sometimes as a poorly developed natural levee along other portions of the river. These substrates are older and more stable than those of the open sand bar communities but younger than those of other floodplain communities. They are thus midway in the primary succession of new river deposits, but often persist for some decades. They show little soil development and often substantial microrelief. While the substrate is not usually reworked by floods, these sites are often subject to strong scouring at high water.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This community experiences greater flood scouring than other floodplain forests due to its limited ground cover and location near the river. This chronic disturbance, combined with limited soil fertility, likely produces slow growth of plants. It can be expected, over periods of many years, to develop into other floodplain forests.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.P. Schafale
Element Description Edition Date: 12Jan2009
Element Description Author(s): M.P. Schafale
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
  • Nelson, J. B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina: Initial classification and description. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Columbia, SC. 55 pp.

  • 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.

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


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