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Nyssa biflora - (Taxodium distichum) / Clethra alnifolia - Viburnum nudum / Woodwardia areolata Floodplain Forest
Translated Name: Swamp Tupelo - (Bald-cypress) / Coastal Sweet-pepperbush - Possumhaw / Netted Chainfern Floodplain Forest
Common Name: Central Atlantic Blackwater Floodplain Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL007054
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association includes seasonally flooded forests in acidic Coastal Plain bottomlands of southeastern and east-central Virginia, the Maryland Eastern Shore, and likely Delaware. It occurs along headwater swamps, and occasionally larger river backswamps, in sandy, nutrient-poor portions of the Coastal Plain. Soils are often organic or contain high organic matter content. Forest vegetation is generally dominated by Nyssa biflora, often with associated hardwoods such as Acer rubrum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Quercus laurifolia, Quercus nigra, and Magnolia virginiana. Although absent from many stands, Taxodium distichum is occasionally an important overstory associate. The understory is characterized by sparse to often dense cover of acidophilic, ericaceous and non-ericaceous shrubs such as Leucothoe racemosa, Vaccinium formosum, Vaccinium fuscatum, Clethra alnifolia, Viburnum nudum, Itea virginica, Ilex verticillata, and Arundinaria gigantea ssp. tecta. The herb layer varies from sparse to well-developed, with characteristic species such as Woodwardia areolata, Saururus cernuus, and others.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: Classification of this type is based primarily on quantitative analysis of a regional dataset of bottomland plots collected across the entire Virginia Coastal Plain. The group of 19 plots representing this type was also analyzed with the addition of one Maryland plot, and compared analytically against a group of 12 plots representing the analogous but more southern blackwater swamp forest of North Carolina and South Carolina, Taxodium distichum - Nyssa biflora / Fraxinus caroliniana / Lyonia lucida Floodplain Forest (CEGL004733) (M. Schafale pers. comm.). In the latter analysis, the two types showed a convincing separation, and a number of differential species were evident.

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 Bald-cypress - Tupelo Floodplain Forest
Alliance Coatal Plain Tupelo Floodplain Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004733 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa biflora / Fraxinus caroliniana / Lyonia lucida Floodplain Forest
CEGL007432 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa aquatica - Nyssa biflora / Fraxinus caroliniana / Itea virginica 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
Maryland Nyssa biflora - (Taxodium distichum) / Clethra alnifolia - Viburnum nudum / Woodwardia areolata Forest Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Swamp black gum dominance type
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Tiner, R. W., and D. G. Burke. 1995. Wetlands of Maryland. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Region 5, Hadley, MA, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD. Cooperative publication. 193 pp. plus appendices. [http://library.fws.gov/Wetlands/MD_wetlands85.pdf]

Ecological Systems Placement

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


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (15Dec2011)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This blackwater swamp forest occurs in somewhat local, acidic, often sandy landscapes of southeastern and east-central Virginia, the Maryland Eastern Shore, and probably Delaware. Although apparently rare northward, there are likely well over 20 occurrences in Virginia, some of them quite large in aggregate. Most examples have been modified by logging, and many have also been altered or destroyed by beavers.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: DEpotentially occurs, MD, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community type is frequent in scattered patches throughout southeastern and east-central Virginia Coastal Plain (Meherrin, Nottoway, Blackwater, Chickahominy, and Piankatank river drainages). It is also known from the Pocomoke River drainage on the Maryland Eastern Shore. Similar vegetation has been reported from Delaware (W. McAvoy pers. comm. 2011), but details are currently lacking. Additional occurrences are likely throughout this region.

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
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Vegetation is a closed-canopy forest usually dominated by Nyssa biflora, but often with significant associates of Liquidambar styraciflua and Acer rubrum. Although absent from many stands, Taxodium distichum is occasionally important or codominant in the canopy. Other inconstant overstory trees that can be important in some stands include Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Quercus laurifolia, Quercus nigra, and Quercus phellos. Nyssa biflora, Acer rubrum, Ilex opaca var. opaca, and Magnolia virginiana are the most typical subcanopy trees. The shrub layer varies from sparse to more often dense and consists of acidophilic, ericaceous and non-ericaceous species such as Leucothoe racemosa, Vaccinium formosum, Vaccinium fuscatum, Rhododendron viscosum, Clethra alnifolia, Viburnum nudum, Itea virginica, Ilex verticillata, and Arundinaria gigantea ssp. tecta. Smilax rotundifolia and Smilax walteri are common scrambling vines. The herb layer varies from sparse to well-developed. The most constant herbs in 20 Virginia and Maryland plots are Woodwardia areolata, Mitchella repens, Saururus cernuus, Carex seorsa, Osmunda cinnamomea, Triadenum walteri, Boehmeria cylindrica, and Carex crinita. Less constant herbs that attain moderately high cover in some stands include Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, Carex intumescens, Eupatorium dubium, Carex lonchocarpa, and Bidens discoidea. Mean species richness was 38 taxa per 400 square meters. Stands on the Delmarva Peninsula of Virginia and Maryland lack some of the southern species (e.g., Arundinaria gigantea ssp. tecta, Quercus laurifolia) that are frequent in southeastern Virginia. In Tiner and Burke's (1995) study of Maryland wetlands, this community was described as the non-tidal swamp blackgum dominance type, with associated trees of Acer rubrum, Magnolia virginiana, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, and Liquidambar styraciflua; characteristic shrubs and vines of Clethra alnifolia, Leucothoe racemosa, Viburnum nudum, and Smilax rotundifolia; and characteristic herbs of Carex intumescens, Boehmeria cylindrica, Woodwardia areolata, Glyceria striata, Bidens sp., Lycopus sp., Carex folliculata, Cinna arundinacea, Saururus cernuus, and Eupatorium dubium. More recent field investigations in Maryland have found Ilex opaca var. opaca, Smilax laurifolia, and Phoradendron leucarpum (= Phoradendron serotinum) to be frequent or common in the type.


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs in seasonally flooded, acidic bottomlands of the central Atlantic Coastal Plain. It occurs along headwater swamps, and occasionally larger river backswamps, in nutrient-poor, usually sandy portions of the region. In Virginia, it often occurs along small streams and river tributaries through inner Coastal Plain sandhills. Soils are often organic or contain high organic matter content. Sites typically have complex microtopography, with numerous hummocks, hollows, and braided channels. Occasional sites in larger-river sloughs may receive acidic groundwater inputs from the base of adjoining slopes, in addition to overland flooding. Among 19 Virginia plots, hummocks and hollows averaged about 45% and 55%, respectively, of the ground surface. Soil samples collected from the A-horizon (if not entirely organic) had a mean organic matter content of 15%, >50% sand content, and a mean pH of 3.9, with low calcium, magnesium, and total base saturation, and high iron and aluminum.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The streams along which this community type occurs carry limited clay and silt sediments. Consequently, nutrient inputs by flooding are limited. Tree growth appears to be notably slow in the wet, infertile soils and only very old trees attain large size.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 15Dec2011
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 15Dec2011
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. 2012. Natural communities of Virginia: Ecological groups and community types. Natural Heritage Technical Report 12-04. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 36 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.

  • McAvoy, William. Personal communication. Botanist, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Smyrna, DE.

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

  • Tiner, R. W., and D. G. Burke. 1995. Wetlands of Maryland. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Region 5, Hadley, MA, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD. Cooperative publication. 193 pp. plus appendices. [http://library.fws.gov/Wetlands/MD_wetlands85.pdf]

  • VDNH [Virginia Division of Natural Heritage]. No date. Unpublished data. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.


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