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Scientific Name: Central Appalachian Dry Oak-Pine Forest
Unique Identifier: CES202.591

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Summary: These oak and oak-pine forests cover large areas in the low- to mid-elevation Central Appalachians and middle Piedmont. The topography and landscape position range from rolling hills to steep slopes, with occasional occurrences on more level, ancient alluvial fans. In the highly dissected fall zone of Maryland and the District of Columbia, where the Piedmont and Coastal Plain meet, it is also found on dry knolls capped with Pleistocene- and Tertiary-aged fluvial cobble and gravel terrace deposits. Soils are typically coarse and infertile; they may be deep (on glacial deposits in the northern and terrace deposits in the southern parts of the system's range), or more commonly shallow, on rocky slopes of acidic rock (shale, sandstone, other acidic igneous or metamorphic rock). The well-drained soils and exposure create dry conditions. The forest is mostly closed-canopy but can include patches of more open woodlands. It is dominated by a variable mixture of dry-site oak and pine species, most typically Quercus montana, Pinus virginiana, and Pinus strobus, but sometimes Quercus alba and/or Quercus coccinea. The system may include areas of oak forest, pine forest (usually small), and mixed oak-pine forest. Heath shrubs such as Vaccinium pallidum, Gaylussacia baccata, and Kalmia latifolia are common in the understory and often form a dense layer. Embedded submesic ravines and concave landforms support slightly more diverse forests characterized by mixtures of oaks, several hickories, Cornus florida, and sometimes Liriodendron tulipifera. Small hillslope pockets with impeded drainage may support small isolated wetlands with Acer rubrum and Nyssa sylvatica characteristic. Disturbance agents include fire, windthrow, and ice damage. Increased site disturbance generally leads to secondary forest vegetation with a greater proportion of Pinus virginiana and weedy hardwoods such as Acer rubrum.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system occurs in drier settings than the other matrix oak forest system of the division, Northeastern Interior Dry-Mesic Oak Forest (CES202.592), except in New York and New England, which are mostly out of the range of CES202.592. In that system, Quercus rubra, Quercus alba, Quercus velutina, and/or Quercus coccinea and Carya spp. are the typical dominants rather than Quercus montana. It includes the system formerly segregated as Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-Heath Forest (CES202.023). Its analog from central Virginia south is Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-(Pine) Forest and Woodland (CES202.339), which has somewhat more southern floristics, for example, the typical presence of Pinus taeda.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES201.719 Laurentian-Acadian Northern Pine-(Oak) Forest
CES202.339 Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-(Pine) Forest and Woodland
CES202.359 Allegheny-Cumberland Dry Oak Forest and Woodland
CES202.592 Northeastern Interior Dry-Mesic Oak Forest
CES202.600 Central Appalachian Pine-Oak Rocky Woodland
CES202.886 Southern Appalachian Oak Forest
CES203.475 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Dry Oak-Hardwood Forest

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL004996 Pinus (pungens, rigida) - Quercus montana / (Quercus ilicifolia) / Gaylussacia baccata Woodland
CEGL006018 Quercus (velutina, alba) / Vaccinium pallidum / Pteridium aquilinum Allegheny Plateau-Northeast Forest
CEGL006162 Acer saccharum - Quercus muehlenbergii / Carex platyphylla Forest
CEGL006259 Pinus strobus - Pinus resinosa - Pinus rigida Forest
CEGL006282 Quercus montana - Quercus (rubra, velutina) / Vaccinium (angustifolium, pallidum) Forest
CEGL006290 Pinus rigida - Quercus (velutina, montana) Forest
CEGL006293 Pinus strobus - Quercus (rubra, velutina) - Fagus grandifolia Forest
CEGL006299 Quercus montana - (Quercus coccinea, Quercus rubra) / Kalmia latifolia / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL006336 Quercus (alba, rubra, velutina) - Carya spp. / Viburnum acerifolium Forest
CEGL006454 Quercus (rubra, velutina, alba) - Betula lenta - (Pinus strobus) Forest
CEGL006921 Fagus grandifolia - Betula lenta - Quercus (alba, rubra) / Carpinus caroliniana Forest
CEGL006923 Tsuga canadensis - Quercus montana - Betula lenta Forest
CEGL007119 Pinus virginiana - Pinus (rigida, echinata) - (Quercus montana) / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL008515 Quercus alba - Quercus montana - Carya glabra / Cornus florida / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL008521 Quercus alba - Quercus (coccinea, velutina, montana) / Gaylussacia baccata Forest
CEGL008523 Quercus montana - Quercus rubra / Vaccinium pallidum - (Rhododendron periclymenoides) Forest
CEGL008524 Quercus montana / Rhododendron catawbiense - Kalmia latifolia Forest
CEGL008539 Pinus strobus - Quercus alba - Quercus montana / Vaccinium stamineum Forest


Land Cover Class: Forest and Woodland
Spatial Pattern: Matrix
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: Yes
Wetland: No
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Acidic Soil  
Pinus (strobus, rigida, echinata, virginiana) - Quercus prinus  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Oligotrophic Soil  
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon <10 cm  
Loam Soil Texture  
Sand Soil Texture  
F-Patch/Medium Intensity  
W-Patch/Low Intensity  
Needle-Leaved Tree  
Broad-Leaved Tree  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Callophrys irus
  (Frosted Elfin)

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Carya glabra G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Quercus coccinea G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Quercus prinus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Pinus echinata G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Pinus rigida G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Pinus strobus G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Pinus virginiana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Gaylussacia baccata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Vaccinium pallidum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Kalmia latifolia G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Melampyrum lineare G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    

Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
Callophrys irus
  (Frosted Elfin)
Coluber constrictor
  (North American Racer)
Crotalus horridus
  (Timber Rattlesnake)
Glaucomys volans
  (Southern Flying Squirrel)
Heterodon platirhinos
  (Eastern Hog-nosed Snake)
Lampropeltis triangulum
Peromyscus leucopus
  (White-footed Deermouse)
Synanthedon castaneae
  (Chestnut Clearwing Moth)

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CT, DC, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV
Global Range: This system is found from central New England through Pennsylvania and south to the Roanoke River in southern Virginia. It is primarily Appalachian but overlaps slightly into the upper Piedmont and fall zone in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

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

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
52 Piedmont Confident or certain
58 Chesapeake Bay Lowlands 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
54 Southern Piedmont Never was there
57 Southern Appalachia Predicted or probable
59 Northeastern Piedmont Never was there
60 Chesapeake Bay Confident or certain
61 Northern Appalachia 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 Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4312
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1369
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2369

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Element Description Edition Date: 23Jan2012
Element Description Author(s): S.C. Gawler, J. Teague and L.A. Sneddon

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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  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2014a. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Gawler, S. C., and A. Cutko. 2010. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta.

  • LANDFIRE [Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Database]. 2007a. Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Models. Landfire Project, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior. (January - last update) [] (accessed 8 February 2007).

  • ONHD [Ohio Natural Heritage Database]. No date. Vegetation classification of Ohio and unpublished data. Ohio Natural Heritage Database, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Columbus.

  • Sperduto, D. D., and W. F. Nichols. 2004. Natural communities of New Hampshire: A guide and classification. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau, DRED Division of Forests and Lands, Concord. 242 pp.

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