Invalid Unit Specified
CEGL007300 Quercus rubra / (Vaccinium simulatum, Rhododendron calendulaceum) / (Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Thelypteris noveboracensis) Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
Collapse All::Expand All
Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Northern Red Oak / (Upland Highbush Blueberry, Flame Azalea) / (Eastern Hay-scented Fern, New York Fern) Forest
Colloquial Name: Southern Appalachian High-Elevation Red Oak Forest (Deciduous Shrub Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This community includes forest vegetation with Quercus rubra making up at least 75% of the tree canopy and with greater than 20% shrub cover, which may be continuous to patchy. More than 50% of the total shrub cover is deciduous, although evergreen shrubs may be present. Typical shrub dominants include Rhododendron calendulaceum, Vaccinium simulatum, Vaccinium erythrocarpum, Ilex montana, Gaylussacia ursina, Rubus canadensis, Corylus cornuta, and Lyonia ligustrina. The herbaceous stratum is diverse and is predominantly a mix of sedges, ferns, and tall herbs, including Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides, Clintonia umbellulata, Collinsonia canadensis, Conopholis americana, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Dioscorea villosa, Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Laportea canadensis, Lysimachia quadrifolia, Medeola virginiana, Monarda fistulosa, Oclemena acuminata (= Aster acuminatus), Potentilla canadensis, Prenanthes roanensis, Silene stellata, Solidago curtisii (= Solidago caesia var. curtisii), and Thelypteris noveboracensis. Herbaceous dominance varies within and between occurrences. This community occurs on most of the major mountain ranges of the Southern Appalachians at elevations of 1070-1525 m (3500-5000 feet) on broad ridges and mid to upper slope positions, commonly with southeastern and southern exposures. At higher elevations this forest often occurs adjacent to or grades into forests dominated by Picea rubens, Abies fraseri, or northern hardwood species such as Aesculus flava, Betula alleghaniensis, and Fagus grandifolia. In some areas, this community is found adjacent to montane shrublands and grasslands. At low elevations, on dry sites, this community may grade into forests dominated by a mixture of Quercus species.
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: This community includes forest vegetation with Quercus rubra making up at least 75% of the tree canopy and with greater than 20% shrub cover. More than 50% of the total shrub cover is deciduous, although evergreen shrubs may be present. Typical deciduous shrub species in this community include Rhododendron calendulaceum, Vaccinium simulatum, Vaccinium erythrocarpum, Ilex montana, Gaylussacia ursina, Rubus canadensis, Corylus cornuta, and Lyonia ligustrina. The most constant species (>70%) in 43 plot samples classified as this association from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, in descending order of constancy, are Quercus rubra, Acer rubrum, Castanea dentata, Acer pensylvanicum, Rhododendron calendulaceum, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Dioscorea quaternata, Medeola virginiana, Ilex montana, and Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Fleming and Patterson 2009a).

Two varieties of Quercus rubra occur within the range of this community, Quercus rubra var. ambigua and Quercus rubra var. rubra (Kartesz 1999). Although the two varieties are known to occur together (Rohrer 1983), Quercus rubra var. ambigua occurs mostly at elevations greater than 1000 m (3300 feet), while Quercus rubra var. rubra occurs at elevations less than 1000 m (3300 feet) (Weakley 1997). The two varieties are based upon morphological differences in the leaves and acorns (Fernald 1950, Coker and Totten 1945); however, studies of foliar flavonoid composition in different Quercus rubra populations suggest that varietal distinction may not be warranted (McDougal and Parks 1984). Even though most studies of Quercus rubra-dominated vegetation do not distinguish Quercus rubra at the varietal level, it is likely, given the elevational range of this community, that the dominant species in this forest is Quercus rubra var. ambigua.

Similar vegetation may occur in the Cumberland Mountains (Black Mountain, Cumberland Mountain, Kentucky); for more information, see Braun (1950) and Black Mountain paper (Braun 1940). Kentucky occurrences lack Gaylussacia ursina, Corylus cornuta, Prenanthes roanensis, and occur at 1067 to 1160 m (3500-3800 feet) elevation (M. Evans pers. comm.).
Similar NVC Types:
Quercus rubra / (Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron maximum) / Galax urceolata Forest, note: has greater than 20% shrub cover but with more than 50% of the shrub cover composed of evergreen species.
Quercus rubra - (Quercus alba) / Ilex montana / Dennstaedtia punctilobula - Lysimachia quadrifolia Forest, note: is a Central Appalachian high-elevation red oak forest.
Quercus rubra - Acer rubrum / Pyrularia pubera / Thelypteris noveboracensis Forest, note:
Quercus rubra / Carex pensylvanica - Ageratina altissima var. roanensis Forest, note: has less than 20% shrub cover and an herb stratum dominated by ferns, tall forbs, and sedges.
Quercus alba / Kalmia latifolia Forest, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: This forest is dominated by Quercus rubra with other species making up less than 25% of the canopy cover. Other canopy and subcanopy trees may include Acer pensylvanicum, Acer rubrum, Amelanchier laevis, Betula alleghaniensis, Betula lenta, Castanea dentata (root sprouts), Fagus grandifolia, Halesia tetraptera, Hamamelis virginiana, Ilex montana, Magnolia acuminata, and, on more exposed sites, Quercus prinus. At higher elevations, this community may contain Picea rubens. The shrub layer may be continuous to patchy but has at least 20% cover and more than 50% of the total shrub cover is deciduous, although evergreen shrubs may be present. Typical shrub dominants include Rhododendron calendulaceum, Vaccinium simulatum, Vaccinium erythrocarpum, Hamamelis virginiana, Ilex montana, Gaylussacia ursina, Rubus canadensis, Corylus cornuta, and Lyonia ligustrina. In Virginia examples, Vaccinium erythrocarpum often occurs as a very low, clonal shrub, only a few inches tall. Other shrubs occur with lower frequency and may include Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, and Rhododendron maximum. Rubus allegheniensis occurs in disturbed openings and in seeps. The herbaceous stratum is diverse and is predominantly a mix of sedges, ferns and tall herbs. Herbaceous dominance varies within and among occurrences. Typical herbaceous species include Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides, Clintonia umbellulata, Collinsonia canadensis, Conopholis americana, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Dichanthelium latifolium, Dioscorea quaternata, Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Houstonia purpurea, Laportea canadensis, Lysimachia quadrifolia, Medeola virginiana, Monarda fistulosa, Oclemena acuminata (= Aster acuminatus), Potentilla canadensis, Prenanthes roanensis, Smilax herbacea, Silene stellata, Solidago curtisii (= Solidago caesia var. curtisii), and Thelypteris noveboracensis. Many species in this community are endemic to the Southern Blue Ridge or have the bulk of their worldwide range in that region. Some of these endemics include Abies fraseri, Aesculus flava, Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Carex roanensis, Clethra acuminata, Euphorbia purpurea, Leucothoe recurva, Prenanthes roanensis, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron vaseyi, Silene ovata, Solidago curtisii, and Vaccinium erythrocarpum.
Dynamics: The canopy is probably rarely removed completely by natural disturbance however, small canopy gaps are caused by individual tree death. Occurrences of this community on exposed slopes and south- and west-facing ridges are subject to lightning-caused fires and damage by ice and wind. Damage by icestorms is probably the most common form of natural disturbance.

Quercus rubra reproduction and survival are optimal in canopy gaps with little regeneration under the forest canopy, hence these forests will eventually succeed to forests with mixed canopy composition of Quercus rubra, Betula alleghaniensis, Acer rubrum, and Fagus grandifolia. Many Quercus rubra-dominated stands of today were, prior to the chestnut blight in the 1930s, dominated or codominated by Castanea dentata with scattered Quercus rubra and Acer rubrum in the canopy (Golden 1974). The fungus Endothia parasitica eliminated Castanea dentata in the upper canopy, subsequently releasing the subcanopy Quercus rubra, which eventually resulted in a nearly pure upper canopy of large Quercus rubra.
Environmental Description: This community occurs at elevations of 1070-1525 m (3500-5000 feet) on broad ridges and mid- to upper-slope positions. DeLapp (1978) found that this community occurs on most slope aspects but was most commonly found on southeast and south exposures. Of the 43 plot samples from the Appalachian Trail classification project, about half are on crests and interfluves; the remaining samples have variable slope exposures (Fleming and Patterson 2009a). This community occurs over well-drained soils underlain by Precambrian gneisses, schists and granites. These soils are classified as Typic, Umbric, or Lithic Dystrochrepts, and Typic Haplumbrepts (Golden 1974). Soils supporting this forest with a mainly deciduous shrub understory are slightly less acidic than Quercus rubra-dominated forests with evergreen shrub understories (DeLapp 1978).
Geographic Range: This community occurs on most of the major mountain ranges of the Southern Appalachians in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia. It may possibly range into Kentucky's Cumberland Mountains and into West Virginia.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: GA, KY?, NC, TN, VA, WV
US Forest Service Ecoregions (1994/1995)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
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
Omernik Ecoregions:
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: G4
Greasons: This community is uncommon but not rare. It is secure within its range.
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: ? Corylus cornuta Phase (DeLapp 1978)
? Deciduous Heath Phase (DeLapp 1978)
? High elevation red oak/blueberry-flame azalea forest (CAP pers. comm. 1998)
< IA4g. High Elevation Northern Red Oak Forest (Allard 1990)
< Mixed Fern Phase (DeLapp 1978)
? Northern Red Oak (55) (USFS 1988)
< Northern Red Oak: 55 (Eyre 1980)
< Oligotrophic Forest (Rawinski 1992)
< Red Oak - Chestnut Forest (Whittaker 1956)
< Tall Herb Phase (DeLapp 1978)
Concept Author(s): K.D. Patterson
Author of Description: K.D. Patterson
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 24Feb2010
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.
  • Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.
  • Braun, E. L. 1940. An ecological transect of Black Mountain, Kentucky. Ecological Monographs 10:194-241.
  • Braun, E. L. 1950. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Hafner Press, New York. 596 pp.
  • CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
  • Coker, W. C., and H. R. Totten. 1945. Trees of the southeastern United States. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
  • DeLapp, J. A. 1978. Gradient analysis and classification of the high elevation red oak community of the Southern Appalachians. M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. 483 pp.
  • Evans, M. 1991. Kentucky ecological communities. Draft report to the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. 19 pp.
  • Evans, M., B. Yahn, and M. Hines. 2009. Natural communities of Kentucky 2009. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, KY. 22 pp.
  • Evans, Marc. Personal communication. Ecologist. Kentucky Natural Heritage Program, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort.
  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.
  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. Eighth edition. A handbook of the flowering plants and ferns of the central and northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. American Book Co., New York.
  • 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 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., 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. 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]
  • Golden, M. S. 1974. Forest vegetation and site relationships in the central portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 275 pp.
  • Kartesz, J. T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: J. T. Kartesz and C. A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC.
  • McDougal, K. M., and C. R. Parks. 1984. Elevational variation in foliar flavonoids of Quercus rubra L. (Fagaceae). American Journal of Botany 71:301-308.
  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.
  • 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.
  • Pyne, M. 1994. Tennessee natural communities. Unpublished document. Tennessee Department of Conservation, Ecology Service Division, Nashville. 7 pp.
  • Rawinski, T. J. 1992. A classification of Virginia's indigenous biotic communities: Vegetated terrestrial, palustrine, and estuarine community classes. Unpublished document. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report No. 92-21. Richmond, VA. 25 pp.
  • Rohrer, J. R. 1983. Vegetation pattern and rock type in the flora of the Hanging Rock Area, North Carolina. Castanea 48:189-205.
  • 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.
  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.
  • Stephenson, S. L., and H. S. Adams. 1989. The high-elevation red oak (Quercus rubra) community type in western Virginia. Castanea 54:217-229.
  • TDNH [Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage]. No date. Unpublished data. Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.
  • USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.
  • Weakley, A. S. 1997. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia. Unpublished May draft. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC.
  • Whigham, D. F. 1969. Vegetation patterns on the north slopes of Bluff Mountain, Ashe County, North Carolina. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 85:1-15.
  • Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs 26:1-80.