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(Juniperus virginiana) / Sporobolus vaginiflorus - Panicum flexile - Allium cernuum - Minuartia patula Grassland
Translated Name: (Eastern Red-cedar) / Poverty Dropseed - Wiry Panicgrass - Nodding Onion - Pitcher's Stitchwort Grassland
Common Name: Virginia Ridge and Valley Limestone Annual Flatrock Barrens
Unique Identifier: CEGL007073
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This vegetation is essentially herbaceous but can have scattered shrubs of Juniperus virginiana within open patches and forming denser thickets around the edges. The vegetation is characterized by a mixture of annual grasses and low annual and perennial forbs. The most constant and characteristic species are Allium cernuum, Cuphea viscosissima, Dichanthelium acuminatum, Euphorbia dentata, Isanthus brachiatus (= Trichostema brachiatum), Minuartia patula, Packera anonyma, Panicum flexile, Sedum pulchellum, and Sporobolus vaginiflorus var. vaginiflorus. This community type is developed on gently sloping to flat exposed outcrops of Lincolnshire Limestone, which reaches a maximal thickness of 85 m (280 feet) near Lexington; based on moderately high magnesium levels in soils over the outcrops, the limestone may be dolomitic. These habitats represent discrete openings in subxeric, calcareous forests and woodlands of Juniperus virginiana. Some of the bedrock openings are approximately one half (0.5) acre in size, but most are considerably smaller. Surface substrate consists of about 50% exposed bedrock, cobbles, and gravel, and 50% thin organic matter or exposed mineral soil. The latter is poorly developed, consisting of thin localized mats of yellow-brown or reddish-brown silty clay loam from <4 cm to >6 cm deep over bedrock. Samples collected from plots had consistently high pH (mean = 7.7), calcium (mean = 3650 ppm), magnesium (mean = 175 ppm), and 100% base saturation. Mean slope inclination is about 5. Abundant ephemeral seepage occurs over parts of the outcrops during wet periods, but the habitat is very drought-prone and xeric overall.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This is a small-patch type. These habitats represent discrete openings in subxeric, calcareous forests and woodlands of Juniperus virginiana. Some of the bedrock openings are approximately one half (0.5) acre in size, but most are considerably smaller. This vegetation is very distinct from other limestone and dolomite barrens in Virginia, both environmentally and floristically.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.B - Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland
Formation 2.B.2 - Temperate Grassland & Shrubland
Division 2.B.2.Nc - Eastern North American Grassland & Shrubland
Macrogroup Central Interior Calcareous Scrub & Grassland
Group Central Interior Alkaline Open Glade & Barrens
Alliance Southern Annual Grass Glade

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004340 Sporobolus (neglectus, vaginiflorus) - Aristida longispica - Panicum flexile - Panicum capillare Grassland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications


Ecological Systems Placement

NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1? (16Apr2015)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Eleven discrete patches are known from a single site.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The combination of bedrock type, geomorphological setting, and floristic composition would limit this type to valleys of the Ridge and Valley province in Virginia. It is only known from Rockbridge County (Lexington Limestone Barrens).

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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This vegetation is essentially herbaceous but can have scattered shrubs of Juniperus virginiana within open patches and forming denser thickets around the edges. The vegetation is characterized by a mixture of annual grasses and low annual and perennial forbs. The most constant and characteristic species are Allium cernuum, Cuphea viscosissima, Dichanthelium acuminatum, Euphorbia dentata, Isanthus brachiatus (= Trichostema brachiatum), Minuartia patula, Packera anonyma, Panicum flexile, Sedum pulchellum, and Sporobolus vaginiflorus var. vaginiflorus. Additional species that can be important in some patches of the type include Croton monanthogynus, Linum sulcatum, Opuntia humifusa, Panicum philadelphicum, Scutellaria parvula var. missouriensis (= Scutellaria leonardii), Scutellaria parvula (var. parvula), Sisyrinchium mucronatum, and Verbena simplex. Perennial graminoids such as Bouteloua curtipendula, Danthonia spicata, Schizachyrium scoparium, and Tridens flavus are infrequent and occur at low cover. In addition to the ubiquitous Juniperus virginiana, other marginal woody components are Cercis canadensis var. canadensis, sapling Fraxinus americana, and Rhus aromatica var. aromatica. The cyanobacterium Nostoc commune is abundant on the flatrocks, becoming particularly conspicuous during periods when moisture is readily available. Among bryophytes, Orthotrichum strangulatum (= Orthotrichum lescurii) is abundant on the rocks. A number of unusual or disjunct (mostly calciphilic) lichens occur, including Catapyrenium squamulosum (= Placynthium squamulosum), Dermatocarpon dolomiticum, Placidium petersii, Psora decipiens, and Thyrea confusa.


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community type is developed on gently sloping to flat exposed outcrops of Lincolnshire Limestone, which reaches a maximal thickness of 85 m (280 feet) near Lexington; based on moderately high magnesium levels in soils over the outcrops, the limestone may be dolomitic. Surface substrate consists of about 50% exposed bedrock, cobbles, and gravel, and 50% thin organic matter or exposed mineral soil. The latter is poorly developed, consisting of thin localized mats of yellow-brown or reddish-brown silty clay loam from <4 cm to >6 cm deep over bedrock. Samples collected from plots had consistently high pH (mean = 7.7), calcium (mean = 3650 ppm), magnesium (mean = 175 ppm), and 100% base saturation. Mean slope inclination is about 5. Abundant ephemeral seepage occurs over parts of the outcrops during wet periods, but the habitat is very drought-prone and xeric overall.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 16Apr2015
Element Description Author(s): G. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 16Apr2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G. Fleming

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


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

  • 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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