Invalid Unit Specified
CEGL008502 Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer spicatum / Dryopteris intermedia - Oclemena acuminata Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Yellow Birch - Northern Red Oak / Mountain Maple / Intermediate Woodfern - Whorled Wood Aster Forest
Colloquial Name: Central Appalachian Northern Hardwood Forest (Yellow Birch - Northern Red Oak Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: The global range of this community is poorly known but probably includes high-elevation areas of the Central Appalachians in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In Virginia, this association is almost exclusively associated with cool, rocky, northwest- to northeast-facing slopes at elevations from about 975 m (3000 feet) to more than 1300 m (4300 feet). Habitats occur on various geologic substrates, including sandstone, metabasalt (greenstone), amphibolite, and granitic formations. Betula alleghaniensis and Quercus rubra are constant, high-cover, usually codominant canopy trees. Minor canopy associates can include Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Tsuga canadensis, Tilia americana, and Fraxinus americana. Acer pensylvanicum and Acer spicatum are the most abundant and characteristic understory trees, although Ilex montana may be locally abundant. More-or-less frequent shrubs include Hamamelis virginiana, Sambucus racemosa, and Hydrangea arborescens. Rhododendron maximum is a frequent shrub at the four southernmost sites in Virginia but is absent elsewhere. The herb layer varies from moderately sparse to very dense.
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: This association is somewhat intermediate between high-elevation Quercus rubra-dominated forests and "classic" (beech - birch - maple) northern hardwood forests. It can be readily distinguished from similar associations (CEGL006045 and CEGL007285) by the complete absence of Fagus grandifolia and the infrequency of Acer saccharum and Prunus serotina.

On the Northern Blue Ridge and higher ridges of the Ridge and Valley province, Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer spicatum / Dryopteris intermedia - Oclemena acuminata Forest (CEGL008502) is the main "northern hardwood" forest in Virginia. This community appears to be absent from Allegheny Mountain in Highland County and the Mount Rogers - Whitetop Mountain area of the Southern Blue Ridge, where Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina Forest (CEGL006045) and Betula alleghaniensis - Fagus grandifolia / Viburnum lantanoides / Eurybia chlorolepis - Dryopteris intermedia Forest (CEGL007285) are prevalent, respectively.

In West Virginia, one plot on Shenandoah Mountain near the Virginia border is classified to this association. It appears to be more common nearby in Virginia, probably due to topographic, aspect, or geological differences on the opposing flanks of Shenandoah Mountain.
Similar NVC Types:
Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina Forest, note: the prevalent northern hardwoods forest in the Alleghany Plateau and Allegheny Mountain regions.
Betula alleghaniensis - Fagus grandifolia / Viburnum lantanoides / Eurybia chlorolepis - Dryopteris intermedia Forest, note: the prevalent northern hardwoods forest in the Southern Appalachians.
Betula alleghaniensis / Sorbus americana - Acer spicatum / Polypodium appalachianum Forest, note: is a high-elevation boulderfield woodland with low species richness (range from 12 to 24; mean = 18) and a very open canopy dominated by stunted and gnarled Betula alleghaniensis, typically with no other species in the canopy.
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: In stands of this association, Betula alleghaniensis and Quercus rubra are constant, high-cover, usually codominant canopy trees. Minor canopy associates can include Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Tsuga canadensis, Tilia americana, and Fraxinus americana. Acer pensylvanicum and Acer spicatum are the most abundant and characteristic understory trees, although Ilex montana may be locally abundant. More-or-less frequent shrubs include Hamamelis virginiana, Sambucus racemosa (= Sambucus pubens), and Hydrangea arborescens. Rhododendron maximum is a frequent shrub at the four southernmost sites in Virginia but is absent elsewhere. The herb layer varies from moderately sparse to very dense. Dryopteris intermedia, Oclemena acuminata (= Aster acuminatus), Angelica triquinata, Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides, Maianthemum canadense, Arisaema triphyllum, and Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus) are the most constant and/or abundant herbaceous species. A large number of low-cover and/or low-constancy herbs also occur in the type. A few of the most characteristic include Dryopteris marginalis, Viola blanda, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Solidago curtisii, Impatiens pallida, Clintonia borealis, Ageratina altissima, Trillium undulatum, Circaea alpina, Carex aestivalis, and Carex debilis var. rudgei. Species richness of plot-sampled stands ranges from 16 to 61 taxa per 400 m2 (mean = 35). One globally rare plant species, Aconitum reclinatum and one state-rare plant species, Poa saltuensis have been recorded in plots of this community type in Virginia. The globally rare Gymnocarpium appalachianum (G3) or a related hybrid was found in this community in West Virginia.
Dynamics: No Data Available
Environmental Description: In Virginia, this association is almost exclusively associated with cool, rocky, northwest- to northeast-facing slopes at elevations from about 975 m (3000 feet) to more than 1300 m (4300 feet). Habitats occur on various geologic substrates, including sandstone, metabasalt (greenstone), amphibolite, and granitic formations. With one exception, soils collected at plot-sampling sites are very strongly to extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.2), with low base status. Sites are mesic to submesic and are often exposed to severe winter temperatures, wind, and ice. Bedrock and boulders typically cover more than 30% of the ground surface. Surface cover of bryophytes and lichens is usually greater than 10%.
Geographic Range: The global range of this community is poorly known but probably includes high-elevation areas of the Central Appalachians in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In Virginia, this vegetation type is widely but locally distributed at higher elevations of the Northern Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley, and Allegheny Mountains. It is rare and local on the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke Gap, and in the Cumberland Mountains of southwestern Virginia.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: MD?, PA?, 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: G3G4
Greasons: Rank is based on potential range of this community which could include throughout the Central Appalachians.
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Acer saccharum - Tilia americana - Quercus rubra Rocky Forest Alliance
Synonomy: = Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer (pensylvanicum, spicatum) / Aster acuminatus Forest (Young et al. 2007a)
= Betula alleghaniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer (pensylvanicum, spicatum) / Dryopteris intermedia - Oclemena acuminata Forest (Fleming and Coulling 2001)
= Betula allegheniensis - Quercus rubra / Acer pensylvanicum / Dryopteris intermedia Forest [Ridge and Valley Northern Hardwoods Forest] (Vanderhorst 2018)
> Quercus rubra - Betula alleghaniensis / Rhododendron catawbiense / Angelica triquinata - Aster acuminatus Association (Rawinski et al. 1996)
< Northern Red Oak: 55 (Eyre 1980)
? Yellow Birch - Red Oak Community (Johnson and Ware 1982)
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming and P.P. Coulling (2001)
Author of Description: G.P. Fleming
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 20Dec2018
References:
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.
  • 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., 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/]
  • Johnson, G. G., and S. Ware. 1982. Post-chestnut forests in the central Blue Ridge of Virginia. Castanea 47:329-343.
  • Rawinski, T. J., K. N. Hickman, J. Waller-Eling, G. P. Fleming, C. S. Austin, S. D. Helmick, C. Huber, G. Kappesser, F. C. Huber, Jr., T. Bailey, and T. K. Collins. 1996. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Glenwood Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-20. Richmond. 65 pp. plus appendices.
  • 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.
  • Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2006. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report (v.1.1). Research technical report prepared for USDI, National Park Service. USGS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. 92 pp. plus appendices.
  • Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2007a. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report, volume 1.1. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 103 pp. plus appendices and GIS products.
  • Young, J., G. Fleming, W. Cass, and C. Lea. 2009. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients, Version 2.0. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2009/142. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.