Invalid Unit Specified
CEGL007543 Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
Collapse All::Expand All
Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Tuliptree - Sweet Birch - Eastern Hemlock / Great Laurel Forest
Colloquial Name: Southern Appalachian Acidic Cove Forest (Typic Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This association includes hemlock-hardwood forests and acidic cove forests of lower to intermediate elevations in the Southern Blue Ridge, upper Piedmont, Cumberlands, and adjacent areas, ranging from southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia, south and west to northwestern Georgia. The concept for this association is intended to be broad and cover both mixed stands of evergreen and deciduous hardwoods as well as stands dominated exclusively by deciduous trees in mesic, acidic environments. These communities occur at low to middle elevations (200-1060 m [650-3500 feet]), generally in coves, gorges or sheltered slopes, over acidic soils. The canopy is usually dominated by Liriodendron tulipifera or Betula lenta mixed with Tsuga canadensis, but substantial portions may be comprised mainly of Tsuga canadensis and the occasional Acer rubrum, while other sites may have little or no Tsuga in the canopy. Other deciduous species more typical of "rich" coves may occur as scattered individuals, including Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Acer saccharum, Fraxinus americana, and Fagus grandifolia. Other canopy/subcanopy species often include Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Magnolia fraseri, and Pinus strobus. Rhododendron maximum is usually dominant in the shrub stratum, often forming impenetrable thickets. South of Virginia, woody associates may also include Ilex opaca var. opaca, Calycanthus floridus, Halesia tetraptera var. tetraptera, and Leucothoe fontanesiana. Herbaceous cover is sparse but can be diverse and is composed of acid-loving species. Typical herbs include Polystichum acrostichoides, Dryopteris intermedia, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Goodyera pubescens, Mitchella repens, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Galax urceolata, Viola rotundifolia, and Tiarella cordifolia.
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: Deciduous trees more typical of "rich" coves, such as Aesculus flava, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, and Acer saccharum, are present in this forest only as minor components, if at all. Likewise, rich-site herbs, such as Actaea racemosa (= Cimicifuga racemosa), Caulophyllum thalictroides, Actaea pachypoda, and Adiantum pedatum, are absent or nearly so. This forest is distinguished from "northern hardwood forests" by the lack of or near absence of Fagus grandifolia, Betula alleghaniensis, Aesculus flava, and the presence of low-elevation species, such as Betula lenta and Liriodendron tulipifera, and generally by a more depauperate herb layer. There is much variability in species composition in the 43 plots classified as this association from the Appalachian Trail region (Fleming and Patterson 2009a), but constancy of the nominal species was quite high (>84%). The most constant species (>64%), in order of descending constancy, are Rhododendron maximum, Tsuga canadensis, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus rubra, Mitchella repens, Polystichum acrostichoides, and Hamamelis virginiana. Species richness in 400-m2 plots ranges from 11 to 72 species per plot. This variable richness is probably influenced by somewhat variable soil fertility and the variation in cover/density of evergreen Rhododendron shrub colonies. An interesting example from the Piedmont/Blue Ridge transition of Georgia (Cedar Creek Canyon, Chattahoochee National Forest) has high coverage of Rhododendron minus and other foothills/Piedmont species such as Liquidambar styraciflua and Aesculus sylvatica.

In the 900- to 1060-m (3000-3500 feet) elevational range, the type becomes transitional to Betula alleghaniensis - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum / (Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest (CEGL007861), which lacks lower-elevation species such as Liriodendron tulipifera and Galax urceolata, and contains many species characteristic of higher elevations and northern latitudes.

Similar vegetation has been observed in coves of the Cumberland Mountains of southwestern Virginia (e.g., Clinch Ranger District: Dark Hollow, Roaring Branch, Pick Breeches and Flannery Ridges,) but comprehensive data are needed to determine whether these stands are part of this forest types or transitional to Tsuga canadensis - (Fagus grandifolia, Tilia americana var. heterophylla) / Magnolia tripetala Forest (CEGL008407). The latter unit apparently has an extensive distribution in the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky and Tennessee, the Southern Ridge and Valley of Tennessee, and the Central Appalachians of West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania.
Similar NVC Types:
Tsuga canadensis - (Fagus grandifolia, Tilia americana var. heterophylla) / Magnolia tripetala Forest, note:
Tsuga canadensis - Quercus prinus - Liriodendron tulipifera / Kalmia latifolia - (Rhododendron catawbiense) Forest, note:
Tsuga canadensis - Liriodendron tulipifera - Platanus occidentalis / Rhododendron maximum - Xanthorhiza simplicissima Wet Forest, note:
Acer rubrum var. rubrum - Betula lenta - Magnolia fraseri / (Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia) Ruderal Forest, note:
Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia - Acer saccharum / (Hamamelis virginiana, Kalmia latifolia) Forest, note:
Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum - (Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest, note:
Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest, note:
Betula alleghaniensis - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum / (Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest, note:
Tsuga canadensis - Halesia tetraptera - Magnolia fraseri / Rhododendron maximum / Dryopteris intermedia Forest, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: This association encompasses hemlock-hardwood forests and acidic cove forests with canopies dominated by mixtures of Tsuga canadensis, Liriodendron tulipifera, Betula lenta, Quercus rubra, and Acer rubrum. The concept for this association is intended to be broad and cover both mixed stands of evergreen and deciduous hardwoods as well as stands dominated exclusively by deciduous trees. Presumably because of past logging, Tsuga canadensis is absent or confined to the understory in some stands, which have mixed canopies of Liriodendron tulipifera, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum, Magnolia acuminata, Quercus rubra, and/or Nyssa sylvatica. Other deciduous species more typical of fertile coves, including Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Acer saccharum, Fraxinus americana, and Fagus grandifolia, may occur as scattered individuals. Minor overstory and understory species include Quercus alba, Quercus prinus, Magnolia fraseri, Magnolia tripetala, Oxydendrum arboreum, Prunus serotina, and Pinus strobus. Rhododendron maximum is scattered to dominant in the shrub stratum often forming nearly impenetrable colonies. Kalmia latifolia is also a typical, but less abundant, shrub. In the southern portion of this type's range, Calycanthus floridus, Halesia tetraptera, and Leucothoe fontanesiana may be common; these are lacking in Virginia and West Virginia occurrences, where Hamamelis virginiana and Acer pensylvanicum may be minor associates. Herbaceous cover is sparse but can be diverse and is composed of acid-loving species. Frequent low-cover species of this layer include Arisaema triphyllum, Chimaphila maculata, Dioscorea quaternata, Dryopteris intermedia, Dryopteris marginalis, Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens, Goodyera pubescens, Hexastylis spp., Luzula echinata, Monotropa uniflora, Medeola virginiana, Mitchella repens, Polypodium virginianum, Polystichum acrostichoides, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Tiarella cordifolia, Viola blanda, and Waldsteinia fragarioides. The spectacular sedge Cymophyllus fraserianus is often associated with this forest. Bryophytes identified in West Virginia plots include Leucobryum glaucum, Thuidium delicatulum, Hypnum imponens, Bazzania trilobata, Dicranum scoparium, Dicranum fulvum, Brotherella recurvans, and Polytrichum pallidisetum.
Dynamics: In Virginia, the hemlock component of many stands has been devastated by outbreaks of hemlock woolly adelgid, resulting in extensive damage and mortality to the mature overstory trees.
Environmental Description: This association is typically found at lower to intermediate elevations (200-1060 m [650-3500 feet]) in the Southern Appalachians and adjacent foothills as well as nearby plateau/gorge systems in West Virginia. Habitats are mesic and located on gentle to steep, lower slopes along creeks in ravines, in coves or gorges, and in concave positions on protected slopes with cool aspects and acidic soils. In situations where midslopes are in protected north-facing positions, this community can range very high up straight or even convex slopes. The type often occurs in linear patches along stream bottoms and in steep ravines in complexes with rich cove communities. Although frequently associated with streams, it is not a wetland. Soils collected from plots are extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.0) and infertile, with high iron and aluminum levels and very low total base saturation. Where present, they are usually well-drained sandy loam, silt loam, loam, clay loam, or clay. The degree of soil development is highly variable. Some stands have relatively deep colluvial or residual soils, while others have a substrate of deeply piled boulders with sparse interstitial, organic soils.
Geographic Range: This community occurs in the Southern Blue Ridge and Cumberlands and peripherally in the upper Piedmont and southern Central Appalachians, ranging from southwestern Virginia and southeastern West Virginia south and west to northwestern Georgia.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: GA, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV
US Forest Service Ecoregions (1994/1995)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name: Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 231    Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Southern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 231A     Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Omernik Ecoregions:
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: G5
Greasons: Within its range, this community type occurs extensively in suitable mesic habitats. Occurrences are subject to compositional modification by outbreaks of hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), an exotic insect pest that causes decline and eventual mortality of Tsuga canadensis.
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: = Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest (Fleming and Coulling 2001)
= Liriodendron tulipifera - Quercus montana - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest (Fleming and Moorhead 2000)
= Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis - Liriodendron tulipifera Forest (Patterson 1994)
= Tsuga canadensis - Betula lenta / Rhododendron maximum forest (Vanderhorst 2001b)
< Cove Forest (Patterson et al. 1994)
< IA5b. Southern Appalachian Hemlock Cove Forest (Allard 1990)
? Mixed Mesophytic Coves (Gettman 1974)
= Sweet Birch - Hemlock Type (Schmalzer and DeSelm 1982)
? Type 5 (Newell and Peet 1995)
< Yellow-Poplar - Eastern Hemlock: 58 (Eyre 1980)
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson, mod. G. Fleming and P. Coulling
Author of Description: K.D. Patterson, G. Fleming, P. Coulling, T. Govus, S.C. Gawler
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 02Apr2010
References:
  • Allard, D. J. 1990. Southeastern United States ecological community classification. Interim report, Version 1.2. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC. 96 pp.
  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.
  • Fleming, G. P. 2002b. Preliminary classification of Piedmont & Inner Coastal Plain vegetation types in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-14. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 29 pp.
  • 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 K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
  • 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.
  • Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 2000. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Peter's Mountain area, James River Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 195 pp. plus appendices.
  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.
  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]
  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]
  • Gettman, R. W. 1974. A floristic survey of Sumter National Forest--The Andrew Pickens Division. M.S. thesis, Clemson University, Clemson, SC. 131 pp.
  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.
  • Nelson, J. B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina: Initial classification and description. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Columbia, SC. 55 pp.
  • Newell, C. L., and R. K. Peet. 1995. Vegetation of Linville Gorge Wilderness, North Carolina. Unpublished report. to USDA Forest Service. University of North Carolina, Department of Biology, Chapel Hill. 211 pp.
  • Patterson, K. D. 1994. Classification of vegetation in Ellicott Rock Wilderness, Southeastern Blue Ridge Escarpment. M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. 91 pp.
  • Patterson, K. D., D. J. Allard, and S. Landaal. 1994. Rare plant communities of the conterminous United States: Southeastern region. Pages 105-210 in: D. H. Grossman, K. Lemon Goodin, and C. L. Reuss, editors. Rare plant communities of the conterminous United States: An initial survey. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA.
  • Peet, R. K., T. R. Wentworth, M. P. Schafale, and A.S. Weakley. No date. Unpublished data of the North Carolina Vegetation Survey. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • Perez, John. Personal communication. Biologist, USDI National Park Service, Glen Jean, WV.
  • Schafale, M. 1998b. Fourth approximation guide. High mountain communities. March 1998 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
  • Schafale, M. P. 2012. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina, 4th Approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
  • Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.
  • Schmalzer, P. A., and H. R. DeSelm. 1982. Vegetation, endangered and threatened plants, critical plant habitats and vascular flora of the Obed Wild and Scenic River. Unpublished report. USDI National Park Service, Obed Wild and Scenic River. 2 volumes. 369 pp.
  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.
  • TDNH [Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage]. No date. Unpublished data. Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.
  • Vanderhorst, J. 2001b. Plant communities of the New River Gorge National River, West Virginia: Northern and southern thirds. Non-game Wildlife and Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Elkins. 146 pp.
  • Vanderhorst, J. P., B. P. Streets, J. Jeuck, and S. C. Gawler. 2008. Vegetation classification and mapping of Bluestone National Scenic River, West Virginia. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2008/106. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Vanderhorst, J. P., B. P. Streets, Z. Arcaro, and S. C. Gawler. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping at Gauley River National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2010/148. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Vanderhorst, J. P., J. Jeuck, and S. C. Gawler. 2007. Vegetation classification and mapping of New River Gorge National River, West Virginia. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2007/092. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 396 pp.
  • White, Jr., R. D. 2003. Vascular plant inventory and plant community classification for Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 160 pp.
  • Wood, J. 1999. Final report: Hemlock ecosystem inventory and monitoring project of the New River Gorge National River and Gauley River National Recreation Area. Unpublished report prepared for USDI National Park Service, Glen Jean, WV.
  • WVNHP [West Virginia Natural Heritage Program]. No date (b). Unpublished data. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Elkins.