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CEGL004973 Aesculus flava - Betula alleghaniensis - Acer saccharum / Caulophyllum thalictroides - Actaea podocarpa Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Yellow Buckeye - Yellow Birch - Sugar Maple / Blue Cohosh - Mountain Bugbane Forest
Colloquial Name: Southern Appalachian Northern Hardwood Forest (Rich Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This association includes forests on high but sheltered slopes in the Southern and Central Appalachians, with canopies dominated by species typically known as northern hardwoods (Aesculus flava, Fagus grandifolia, Betula alleghaniensis, Acer saccharum), but with a rich herbaceous flora dominated by forbs and more typical of lower elevation "cove" forests. This forest occurs on deep, rocky soils on the upper slopes of coves, and on other protected landforms, at elevations of 1070-1525 m (3500-5000 feet), and can be associated with mafic substrates. Other canopy species can include Fraxinus americana, Tilia americana var. heterophylla, and Quercus rubra. In the Great Smoky Mountains and in the Nantahala Mountains (Standing Indian), Halesia tetraptera var. monticola can be an important canopy component. The shrub stratum is typically open, but small trees such as Acer spicatum, Acer pensylvanicum, and Amelanchier laevis are frequent. Herbaceous cover can be lush, quite diverse, and is typically dominated and characterized by large forbs such as Caulophyllum thalictroides, Actaea podocarpa, Actaea racemosa, Collinsonia canadensis, Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Laportea canadensis, Campanulastrum americanum, and Tiarella cordifolia. Other species typical of northern hardwood forests such as Dryopteris intermedia and Eurybia chlorolepis are also common. The canopy of these forests always has a component of Betula alleghaniensis and/or Fagus grandifolia, occurring with Acer saccharum, over a lush and diverse herbaceous stratum.
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: These forests occur above the elevational limit of some of the typical "cove" canopy species [see Liriodendron tulipifera - Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Aesculus flava Forest Alliance (A0235)] such as Liriodendron tulipifera and Carya cordiformis.

In West Virginia, five plots from high elevations (1090-1310m) on Black Mountain (Allegheny Mountains) are classified to this association. Aesculus flava occurs in these stands at its maximum elevation in the state in association with Betula allegheniensis and other typical northern hardwoods. These forests may have seepage inclusions and support a lush herb layer which includes Actaea podocarpa, Laportea canadensis, Allium triccocum, and both Caulophyllum thalictroides and Caulophyllum giganteum.
Similar NVC Types:
Betula alleghaniensis - Fagus grandifolia / Viburnum lantanoides / Eurybia chlorolepis - Dryopteris intermedia Forest, note: occurs on higher, more open slopes with lower soil fertility.
Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum - (Tilia americana var. heterophylla) / Hydrophyllum canadense - Solidago flexicaulis Forest, note: lacks Betula alleghaniensis and occurs at lower elevations.
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: The canopy of these forests always has a component of Betula alleghaniensis and/or Fagus grandifolia, occurring with Acer saccharum, over a lush and diverse herbaceous stratum. The canopies of stands are dominated by species typically known as "northern hardwoods" (Aesculus flava, Fagus grandifolia, Betula alleghaniensis, Acer saccharum), but with a rich herbaceous flora dominated by forbs and more typical of lower elevation "cove" forests. Other canopy species can include Tilia americana var. heterophylla, Fraxinus americana, and Quercus rubra. In the Great Smoky Mountains and the Nantahala Mountains, Halesia tetraptera var. monticola can be an important canopy component. The shrub stratum is typically open, but small trees such as Acer spicatum, Acer pensylvanicum, and Amelanchier laevis are frequent. Herbaceous cover can be lush, quite diverse, and is typically dominated and characterized by large forbs such as Caulophyllum thalictroides, Actaea podocarpa (= Cimicifuga americana), Actaea racemosa (= Cimicifuga racemosa), Collinsonia canadensis, Ageratina altissima var. roanensis, Laportea canadensis, Campanulastrum americanum, and Tiarella cordifolia. Other species typical of northern hardwood forests such as Dryopteris intermedia and Eurybia chlorolepis are also common.
Dynamics: No Data Available
Environmental Description: This association includes forests on high but sheltered slopes in the Southern and Central Appalachians. This forest occurs on deep, rocky soils on the upper slopes of coves, and on other protected landforms, at elevations of 1070-1525 m (3500-5000 feet), and can be associated with mafic substrates.
Geographic Range: This community is a regional endemic, found only in the high-mountain areas of the Southern Blue Ridge, from Virginia south through western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and northeastern Georgia, with outlying examples in the Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley in Virginia (Clinch Mountain and High Knob massif) and in the Allegheny Mountains (Black Mountain) in West Virginia.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: GA, NC, TN, TV, 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
US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)
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: G3
Greasons: This community is naturally uncommon due to specific habitat requirements and a restricted geographic range. It only occurs at moderate to high elevations, on protected landforms, in the Southern Blue Ridge. Most documented occurrences are of moderate to high quality, although destructive silvicultural practices could threaten remaining occurrences. The European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) is predicted to spread within the range of this community by 2005 and poses a threat to this community. There are potential difficulties in assigning plots or occurrences to this association (Southern Appalachian Northern Hardwood Forest [Rich Type] (CEGL004973)) versus Southern Appalachian Cove Forest (Rich Montane Type) (CEGL007695). The current (2003) understanding of the differences would dictate leaving the rank at G3.
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: = Aesculus flava - Betula alleghaniensis - Acer saccharum / Caulophyllum thalictroides - Actaea podocarpa Forest [Southern Appalachian Northern Hardwoods Forest] (Vanderhorst 2018)
Concept Author(s): Southern Blue Ridge Planning Team
Author of Description: G. Fleming and K. Patterson
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 20Dec2018
References:
  • 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 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., K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2017. The natural communities of Virginia: A classification of ecological community groups and community types. Third approximation. Version 3.0. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-communities/]
  • Major, C. S., C. Bailey, J. Donaldson, R. McCoy, C. Nordman, M. Williams, and D. Withers. 1999. An ecological inventory of selected sites in the Cherokee National Forest. Cost Share Agreement #99-CCS-0804-001. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • TDNH [Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage]. 2018. Unpublished data. Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.
  • Vanderhorst, J. 2018. Wild vegetation of West Virginia: Northern hardwood forests. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program. [http://wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/Factsheets/Hardwood.shtm]
  • WVNHP [West Virginia Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Elkins.