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Scientific Name: Central Appalachian River Floodplain
Unique Identifier: CES202.608

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Summary: This system encompasses floodplains of medium to large rivers in Atlantic drainages from southern New England to Virginia. This system can include a complex of wetland and upland vegetation on deep alluvial deposits and scoured vegetation on depositional bars and on bedrock where rivers cut through resistant geology. This complex includes floodplain forests in which Acer saccharinum, Populus deltoides, and Platanus occidentalis are characteristic, as well as herbaceous sloughs, shrub wetlands, riverside prairies and woodlands. Microtopography and soil texture determine how long the various habitats are inundated. Depositional and erosional features may both be present depending on the particular floodplain.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is distinguished from related floodplain systems; northward, Laurentian-Acadian Floodplain Forest (CES201.587) is characterized by the lack or unimportance of Platanus occidentalis and Betula nigra, for example; and westward, North-Central Interior Floodplain (CES202.694) drains to the midwestern rivers rather than northeastern rivers. Determining the distinctions from South-Central Interior Large Floodplain (CES202.705), which overlaps the southern and western portions of this system, needs work.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES201.587 Laurentian-Acadian Floodplain Forest
CES202.609 Central Appalachian Stream and Riparian
CES202.694 North-Central Interior Floodplain
CES202.705 South-Central Interior Large Floodplain

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL002014 Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus spp. - Celtis occidentalis Floodplain Forest
CEGL002086 Betula nigra - Platanus occidentalis Floodplain Forest
CEGL002586 Acer saccharinum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus americana Floodplain Forest
CEGL003896 Platanus occidentalis - Betula nigra - Salix (caroliniana, nigra) Floodplain Forest
CEGL004073 Platanus occidentalis - Acer negundo - Juglans nigra / Asimina triloba / Mertensia virginica Floodplain Forest
CEGL004103 Carex torta Riverbed Vegetation
CEGL004286 Justicia americana Riverbed Vegetation
CEGL005014 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus spp. - Acer rubrum - Juglans nigra Floodplain Forest
CEGL005033 Acer negundo Ruderal Floodplain Forest
CEGL005082 Alnus serrulata / Calamagrostis canadensis Shrub Swamp
CEGL005449 Calamagrostis canadensis North-Central Wet Meadow
CEGL006001 Acer saccharinum - Ulmus americana / Onoclea sensibilis Floodplain Forest
CEGL006036 Platanus occidentalis - Fraxinus pennsylvanica Floodplain Forest
CEGL006042 Acer saccharinum - Ulmus americana / Physocarpus opulifolius Floodplain Forest
CEGL006069 Cephalanthus occidentalis - Decodon verticillatus Shrub Swamp
CEGL006114 Acer saccharum - Fraxinus spp. - Tilia americana / Matteuccia struthiopteris - Ageratina altissima Floodplain Forest
CEGL006147 Acer saccharinum - (Populus deltoides) / Matteuccia struthiopteris - Laportea canadensis Floodplain Forest
CEGL006176 Acer saccharinum / Onoclea sensibilis - Boehmeria cylindrica Floodplain Forest
CEGL006184 Betula nigra - Platanus occidentalis / Impatiens capensis Floodplain Forest
CEGL006185 Quercus palustris - Acer rubrum / Carex grayi - Geum canadense Wet Forest
CEGL006217 Acer saccharinum - Acer negundo / Ageratina altissima - Laportea canadensis - (Elymus virginicus) Floodplain Forest
CEGL006218 Quercus bicolor - Fraxinus pennsylvanica - (Platanus occidentalis) / Chasmanthium latifolium - Zizia aurea Floodplain Forest
CEGL006244 Peltandra virginica - Polygonum amphibium var. emersum - Carex stricta - Impatiens capensis Marsh
CEGL006251 Alnus serrulata - Physocarpus opulifolius Wet Shrubland
CEGL006255 Liriodendron tulipifera - Platanus occidentalis - Betula lenta / Lindera benzoin / Circaea lutetiana ssp. canadensis Floodplain Forest
CEGL006283 Andropogon gerardii - Panicum virgatum - Baptisia australis Riverscour Wet Meadow
CEGL006305 Salix sericea Shrub Swamp
CEGL006314 Liriodendron tulipifera - Fraxinus spp. / Lindera benzoin - Viburnum prunifolium / Podophyllum peltatum Floodplain Forest
CEGL006386 Quercus bicolor - Acer rubrum / Carpinus caroliniana Wet Forest
CEGL006405 Tilia americana - Acer saccharum - Acer nigrum / Laportea canadensis Floodplain Forest
CEGL006445 Carya cordiformis - Prunus serotina / Ageratina altissima Forest
CEGL006447 Carex trichocarpa Rivershore Wet Meadow
CEGL006459 Acer saccharum - Fraxinus americana / Carpinus caroliniana / Podophyllum peltatum Forest
CEGL006463 Salix nigra - Betula nigra / Schoenoplectus pungens Riverscour Shrubland
CEGL006466 Platanus occidentalis / Aesculus flava Floodplain Forest
CEGL006473 Acer saccharum - Liriodendron tulipifera / Galium concinnum - Carex laxiculmis Forest
CEGL006476 Platanus occidentalis - Acer saccharinum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Boehmeria cylindrica - Carex emoryi Floodplain Forest
CEGL006478 Fraxinus americana / Andropogon gerardii - Sorghastrum nutans - Schizachyrium scoparium - Pycnanthemum tenuifolium Riverscour Wet Meadow
CEGL006480 Verbesina alternifolia - Elymus riparius - Solidago gigantea - (Teucrium canadense) Riverbar Wet Meadow
CEGL006481 Eupatorium serotinum - Polygonum (lapathifolium, punctatum, pensylvanicum) Riverbar Wet Meadow
CEGL006483 Eragrostis hypnoides - Ludwigia palustris - Lindernia dubia - Cyperus squarrosus Riverbar Wet Meadow
CEGL006484 Carpinus caroliniana - Ilex decidua Wet Shrubland
CEGL006491 (Hypericum prolificum, Eubotrys racemosa) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Solidago simplex var. racemosa - Ionactis linariifolius Riverscour Sparse Vegetation
CEGL006495 Quercus rubra - Quercus shumardii / Cercis canadensis Floodplain Forest
CEGL006497 Quercus palustris - Quercus bicolor / Carex tribuloides - Carex radiata - (Carex squarrosa) Wet Forest
CEGL006518 Prunus pumila / Andropogon gerardii - Sorghastrum nutans Riverscour Wet Meadow
CEGL006536 Carex torta - Apocynum cannabinum - Cyperus spp. Riverbed Vegetation
CEGL006546 Alnus incana - Viburnum recognitum / Calamagrostis canadensis Shrub Swamp
CEGL006548 Acer (rubrum, saccharinum) - Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus americana / Boehmeria cylindrica Floodplain Forest
CEGL006575 Fraxinus pennsylvanica - (Juglans nigra, Platanus occidentalis) Floodplain Forest
CEGL006595 Spiraea alba Wet Shrubland
CEGL007696 Peltandra virginica - Saururus cernuus - Boehmeria cylindrica / Climacium americanum Marsh
CEGL007879 Juglans nigra / Verbesina alternifolia Ruderal Forest
CEGL008405 Liriodendron tulipifera - Pinus strobus - (Tsuga canadensis) / Carpinus caroliniana / Amphicarpaea bracteata Forest
CEGL008449 Pinus virginiana - Quercus stellata / Amelanchier stolonifera / Danthonia spicata / Leucobryum glaucum Woodland


Land Cover Class: Mixed Upland and Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Large patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: Yes
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Toeslope/Valley Bottom  
Riverine / Alluvial  
Broad-Leaved Deciduous Tree  
Intermittent Flooding  
Short (<5 yrs) Flooding Interval  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Eutrophic Soil  
Deep Soil  
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon >10 cm  
Silt Soil Texture  
Short Disturbance Interval  
Flood Scouring  
1-29-day hydroperiod  
30-180-day hydroperiod  
Moderate (100-500 yrs) Persistence  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Arabis georgiana
  (Georgia Rockcress)
G1 LT: Listed threatened
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Catocala marmorata
  (Marbled Underwing)
Cetradonia linearis
  (Rock Gnome Lichen)
G3 LE: Listed endangered
Cicindela ancocisconensis
  (Appalachian Tiger Beetle)
Diervilla rivularis
  (Mountain Bush-honeysuckle)
Eurycea junaluska
  (Junaluska Salamander)
Fissidens appalachensis
  (Appalachian Pocket Moss)
Glyptemys insculpta
  (Wood Turtle)
Hygrohypnum closteri
  (Closter's Brook Moss)
Lejeunea blomquistii
  (Blomquist Leafy Liverwort)
Lysimachia fraseri
  (Fraser's Loosestrife)
Marshallia grandiflora
  (Large-flowered Barbara's-buttons)
Plethodon aureolus
  (Tellico Salamander)
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
Sagittaria secundifolia
  (Little River Arrowhead)
G1 LT: Listed threatened
Sorex palustris punctulatus
  (Southern Water Shrew)
Spiraea virginiana
  (Virginia Spiraea)
G2 LT: Listed threatened

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Acer saccharinum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Platanus occidentalis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Populus deltoides G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Carpinus caroliniana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
Spiraea virginiana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
Arabis georgiana G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
Laportea canadensis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Marshallia grandiflora G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
Sagittaria secundifolia G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
Dryopteris cristata G5 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
Woodwardia areolata G5 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
Toxicodendron radicans G5 Liana Herb (field)    
Anthoceros lamellatus GNR Liverwort/hornwort Nonvascular      
Lejeunea blomquistii G1 Liverwort/hornwort Nonvascular      
Fissidens appalachensis G2 Moss Nonvascular      
Cetradonia linearis G3 Lichen Nonvascular      

Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
Ambystoma talpoideum
  (Mole Salamander)
Anaxyrus americanus
  (American Toad)
Anolis carolinensis
  (Green Anole)
Apalone spinifera spinifera
  (Eastern Spiny Softshell)
Autochton cellus
  (Gold-banded Skipper)
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Catocala marmorata
  (Marbled Underwing)
Cicindela ancocisconensis
  (Appalachian Tiger Beetle)
Eurycea junaluska
  (Junaluska Salamander)
Eurycea longicauda
  (Longtail Salamander)
Glyptemys insculpta
  (Wood Turtle)
Lithobates clamitans
  (Green Frog)
Lontra canadensis
  (North American River Otter)
Mustela nivalis
  (Least Weasel)
Myotis austroriparius
  (Southeastern Myotis)
Nerodia sipedon
  (Northern Watersnake)
Parkesia noveboracensis
  (Northern Waterthrush)
Plethodon aureolus
  (Tellico Salamander)
Pseudotriton montanus
  (Mud Salamander)
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
Sorex palustris punctulatus
  (Southern Water Shrew)
Sternotherus minor
  (Loggerhead Musk Turtle)
Synanthedon castaneae
  (Chestnut Clearwing Moth)
Thamnophis sauritus sauritus
  (Common Ribbonsnake)
Thamnophis sauritus
  (Eastern Ribbonsnake)

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CT, MA, MD, NH, NJpotentially occurs, NY, OH, PA, VA, VT, WV
Global Range: Southern New England west to Lake Erie and south to Virginia. The James River in Virginia marks the southern extent of this system.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
201-Laurentian-Acadian C: Confident or certain
202-Central Interior and Appalachian C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
49 Western Allegheny Plateau Confident or certain
52 Piedmont Confident or certain
59 Central Appalachian Forest Confident or certain
60 High Allegheny Plateau Confident or certain
61 Lower New England / Northern Piedmont Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
53 Appalachia Confident or certain
57 Southern Appalachia Never was there
59 Northeastern Piedmont Confident or certain
60 Chesapeake Bay Confident or certain
61 Northern Appalachia Confident or certain
62 Allegheny Plateau Confident or certain
63 Finger Lakes Confident or certain
64 Northeastern Highlands Confident or certain
65 Connecticut River Basin and Highlands Confident or certain
66 The North Woods Never was there

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9333

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Element Description Edition Date: 02Jan2015
Element Description Author(s): S.C. Gawler, J. Teague, L.A. Sneddon and M. Pyne

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

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  • Kearsley, J. B. 1999c. Inventory and vegetation classification of floodplain forest communities in Massachusetts. Rhodora 906:105-135.

  • PNHP [Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program]. 2002. Classification, assessment and protection of forested floodplain wetlands of the Susquehanna Drainage. U.S. EPA Wetlands Protection State Development Grant no. CD-993731. Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, Ecological Services Section. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Harrisburg, PA.

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