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Pinus rigida - Quercus prinus / Gaylussacia baccata / Carex pensylvanica Woodland
Translated Name: Pitch Pine - Chestnut Oak / Black Huckleberry / Pennsylvania Sedge Woodland
Common Name: Appalachian Pitch Pine Pavement Woodland
Unique Identifier: CEGL004821
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association grows on massive, gently to steeply sloping pavements of Silurian, Devonian, and Pennsylvanian sandstones that occur locally on the middle to upper sideslopes of ridges in the Ridge and Valley and Cumberland Mountains of Virginia and possibly West Virginia. It also occurs on the Allegheny Plateau and Ridge and Valley physiographic provinces in Maryland. Most stands occur in the elevational range of 760 to 1100 m (2500-3600 feet); Maryland stands are much lower in elevation at 245 to 305 m (800-1000 feet) than stands documented in Virginia and West Virginia. Aspect varies from east to northwest, and moisture conditions are generally xeric. Surface substrate cover of exposed bedrock averages 75 to 80%. Soil development in these habitats is negligible, consisting of shallow organic-rich accumulations in cracks, crevices, and shallow depressions. Occasional ledges support very thin veneers of soil material, which is extremely acidic and nutrient-poor. Summer drought and strong winter winds and ice are major stressors of this community type. Vegetation is characterized by a sparse, stunted woodland of short (often <6 m tall), widely spaced Pinus rigida, often in association with Quercus prinus. Occasional canopy associates include Quercus rubra, Pinus virginiana, and Pinus echinata. Total canopy cover is usually <25% and often <10%, with trees rooted in larger cracks and crevices. Total shrub cover is typically 10-15%, with Betula lenta, Smilax glauca, Gaylussacia baccata, Kalmia latifolia, Amelanchier arborea, Acer rubrum, Sassafras albidum, and Vaccinium pallidum the most frequent species. The herb layer is sparse (generally <5% total cover), with only occasional, continuous patches of Carex pensylvanica, Danthonia spicata, or Deschampsia flexuosa covering a few square meters. Lithophytic species such as Corydalis sempervirens, Dicentra eximia, Polypodium appalachianum, and Saxifraga michauxii are characteristic but occur at very low cover. Lichens and bryophytes usually cover much of the exposed pavement surfaces. The glades over Pottsville in the Ridge and Valley of Maryland are characterized as sparse woodlands with a strong dominance of Pinus virginiana and/or Pinus rigida in variable proportions. Oaks such as Quercus prinus (= Quercus montana) and Quercus velutina are also present but minor.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: In the 1134-plot regional analysis for the Southern Appalachian portion of the Appalachian Trail (Fleming and Patterson 2009a), a small group of three Virginia plots was classified as this type. In a subsequent 1300-plot analysis of all Virginia montane upland forests, woodlands, and barrens (Fleming and Patterson 2009b), it was represented by five plots. Although plot data are limited, these groups are distinct from other xeric woodlands and barrens in both cluster analysis and ordination studies. Other large occurrences of this association have been documented qualitatively by Virginia Division of Natural Heritage botanists and ecologists. The type has been internally recognized for years, but had been assigned to the now-retired Pinus (virginiana, rigida) - Quercus prinus / Gaylussacia baccata - Vaccinium pallidum Woodland [Provisional] (CEGL006563). Conceptually, environmentally, and physiognomically, this association appears to be distinct from the associations that superseded CEGL006563 elsewhere in the Central Appalachians (i.e., Pinus rigida - Quercus coccinea / Vaccinium angustifolium Woodland (CEGL006557) and Pinus rigida / (Quercus ilicifolia) / Photinia melanocarpa / Deschampsia flexuosa Woodland (CEGL006116)). However, additional data collection and analysis of related pine woodlands are certainly warranted. If interpreted very broadly, this community might be considered a sparse, lithophytic variant of Pinus (pungens, rigida) - Quercus prinus / (Quercus ilicifolia) / Gaylussacia baccata Woodland (CEGL004996), the widespread Central Appalachian community of xeric ridges and spurs.

A small "Sandstone Glade" dataset collected in 1994 by Ashton Berdine over the Pottsville sandstone formation was used to validate this type for Maryland. Data from Mill Run and Martin Mountain in the Ridge and Valley physiographic province formed a somewhat heterogeneous group characterized by open, stunted pine woodlands over much exposed sandstone pavement and low herb diversity. Another stand on the Allegheny Plateau at Cucumber Hollow Glade also fits this concept in being characterized by stunted open woodlands of Pinus rigida over sandstone pavement. Maryland data is supported by five plots with a mean species richness of 15 species, homoteneity of 0.693, and Bray-Curtis similarity of 0.431.


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 Virginia Pine - Table Mountain Pine Woodland & Barrens
Alliance Appalachian Table Mountain Pine - Pitch Pine - Chestnut Oak Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004996 Pinus (pungens, rigida) - Quercus prinus / (Quercus ilicifolia) / Gaylussacia baccata Woodland
CEGL006116 Pinus rigida / (Quercus ilicifolia) / Photinia melanocarpa / Deschampsia flexuosa Woodland
CEGL006557 Pinus rigida - Quercus coccinea / Vaccinium angustifolium Woodland
CEGL007097 Pinus pungens - Pinus rigida - (Quercus prinus) / Kalmia latifolia - Vaccinium pallidum Woodland
CEGL008525 Pinus virginiana - Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / (Hieracium greenii, Viola pedata) Woodland
CEGL008526 Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / Danthonia spicata Woodland
CEGL008540 Quercus prinus - Pinus virginiana - (Pinus pungens) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Dichanthelium depauperatum Woodland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Pinus rigida - Quercus montana / Gaylussacia baccata / Carex pensylvanica Woodland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
Related Concept Name: Pinus rigida / Oxydendrum arboreum / Danthonia sericea Woodland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (14Jul2016)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: More information is needed to rank this community type.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is known from the southern part of the Central Appalachians and the Pine Mountain area of the Cumberland Mountains in Virginia. Similar vegetation occurs in eastern West Virginia (J. Vanderhorst pers. comm.). In western Virginia, it is most frequent and forms the largest patches on the higher, longer Ridge and Valley strike ridges west and southwest of Roanoke. It also occurs on the Allegheny Plateau and Ridge and Valley physiographic provinces in Maryland.

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: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Cumberland Mountains Section
Section Code: M221C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This community is characterized by a sparse, stunted woodland of short (often <6 m tall), widely spaced Pinus rigida, often in association with Quercus prinus. Occasional canopy associates include Quercus rubra, Pinus virginiana, and Pinus echinata. Total canopy cover is usually <25% and often <10%, with trees rooted in larger cracks and crevices. Shrubs and shrubby, stunted trees that also find a foothold in crevices, depressions, and shallow organic accumulations include Betula lenta, Smilax glauca, Gaylussacia baccata, Kalmia latifolia, Amelanchier arborea, Acer rubrum, Sassafras albidum, and Vaccinium pallidum. Other shrubs, including Ilex montana, Rhododendron catawbiense, and Vaccinium stamineum, may also occur but are not constant. Total shrub cover is typically 10-15%. The herb layer is sparse (generally <5% total cover), with only occasional, continuous patches of Carex pensylvanica, Danthonia spicata, or Deschampsia flexuosa covering a few square meters. Lithophytic species such as Corydalis sempervirens, Dicentra eximia, Polypodium appalachianum, and Saxifraga michauxii are characteristic but occur at very low cover. Lichens and bryophytes usually cover much of the exposed pavement surfaces; Leucobryum glaucum is a frequent bryophyte, while frequent and/or abundant lichens include Xanthoparmelia spp., Dimelaena oreina, Lasallia pensylvanica, Lasallia papulosa, and Cladonia spp. Overall species richness is characteristically low, averaging 23 taxa per 400 square meters in five Virginia plots. The glades over Pottsville in the Ridge and Valley of Maryland are characterized as sparse woodlands with a strong dominance of Pinus virginiana and/or Pinus rigida in variable proportions. Oaks such as Quercus prinus (= Quercus montana) and Quercus velutina are also present but minor. Maryland data is supported by five plots with a mean species richness of 15 species, homoteneity of 0.693, and Bray-Curtis similarity of 0.431.


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This association grows on massive, gently to steeply sloping pavements of Silurian, Devonian, and Pennsylvanian sandstones that occur locally on the middle to upper sideslopes of ridges in the Ridge and Valley and Cumberland Mountains of Virginia and possibly West Virginia. It also occurs on the Allegheny Plateau and Ridge and Valley physiographic provinces in Maryland. Most stands occur in the elevational range of 760 to 1100 m (2500-3600 feet); Maryland stands are much lower in elevation at 245 to 305 m (800-1000 feet) than stands documented in Virginia and West Virginia. Aspect varies from east to northwest, and moisture conditions are generally xeric. Surface substrate cover of exposed bedrock averages 75 to 80%. Soil development in these habitats is negligible, consisting of shallow organic-rich accumulations in cracks, crevices, and shallow depressions. Occasional ledges support very thin veneers of soil material, which is extremely acidic and nutrient-poor.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Constant summer drought and strong winter winds and ice are major stressors of this vegetation type. It is doubtful that fires are a major ecological influence due to the lack of significant fuels to carry frequent fire.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming and K.D. Patterson (2009b)
Element Description Edition Date: 26Oct2011
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming and J. Harrison
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 24Feb2010
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., and K. D. Patterson. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. 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 P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.

  • Vanderhorst, Jim. Personal communication. Ecologist, West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Elkins, WV.


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