Invalid Unit Specified
CEGL006152 Picea rubens - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Red Spruce - (Eastern Hemlock) / Great Laurel Forest
Colloquial Name: Red Spruce Forest (Protected Slope Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This association includes moist slope forests of the Central and Southern Appalachians. Abies fraseri is a minor component or entirely absent. These communities can occur on high-elevation boulderfields, ridges and steep slopes, as well as sheltered lower slopes above 945 m (3100 feet). This association occurs in the lower elevations of the range of Picea rubens, primarily on protected landforms such as steep to gentle slopes but also on ridges at least in parts of its range. In the Southern and Central Appalachians these are closed-canopy conifer forests dominated by Picea rubens, with associates Tsuga canadensis, Acer pensylvanicum, Amelanchier spp., Betula alleghaniensis, and Sorbus americana. This concept includes protected slope forests in the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as in West Virginia in which Tsuga canadensis is codominant. The shrub layer is dominated by Rhododendron maximum, with associates of Ilex montana, Kalmia latifolia, Viburnum lantanoides, and Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides. In some examples, the shrub layer can include a mixture of Rhododendron catawbiense and Rhododendron maximum. Other minor shrub components can include Vaccinium simulatum, Vaccinium erythrocarpum, and Aronia melanocarpa. Herbaceous cover is typically sparse, but where the shrub stratum is more open, a moderate herb stratum may be developed. This can include Clintonia borealis, Dryopteris campyloptera, Huperzia lucidula, Lycopodium spp., Medeola virginiana, Mitchella repens, Oxalis montana, and Rugelia nudicaulis (in the Great Smoky Mountains).
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: Classification of this unit is supported by 17 plots in Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker counties in West Virginia. This association was determined not to be distinct from former Picea rubens - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest (CEGL006272) which was merged into this concept. Likewise, former Picea rubens / Rhododendron catawbiense Forest (CEGL006163) of West Virginia also was considered floristically indistinct and is now also included in the concept of this association (CEGL006152).

In Virginia, forests with Picea rubens and Tsuga canadensis have been classified as Picea rubens - Acer rubrum / Ilex verticillata Swamp Forest (CEGL006556), or as variants of Betula alleghaniensis - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum / (Leucothoe fontanesiana) Forest (CEGL007861), or as examples of Tsuga canadensis - Acer rubrum - (Nyssa sylvatica) / Rhododendron maximum / Sphagnum spp. Seep Forest (CEGL007565) that contain red spruce as an associate. This concept includes stands found in the Great Smoky Mountains in the vicinity of Mount LeConte on steep, middle to high slopes between 1372 and 1524 m (4500-5000 feet) elevation. These sites may be relatively exposed and rocky and subject to disturbance by wind and ice. These Mount LeConte stands were the source of CEGL006272, now merged into CEGL006152.
Similar NVC Types:
Picea rubens - (Abies fraseri) / Vaccinium erythrocarpum / Dryopteris campyloptera / Hylocomium splendens Forest, note:
Picea rubens / Betula alleghaniensis / Bazzania trilobata Forest, note: dominant matrix red spruce forest type within West Virginia; lacks dense evergreen rhododendron shrub layer
Picea rubens - Acer rubrum / Ilex verticillata Swamp Forest, note:
Tsuga canadensis - Acer rubrum - (Nyssa sylvatica) / Rhododendron maximum / Sphagnum spp. Seep Forest, note:
Picea rubens - (Abies fraseri) / (Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron maximum) Forest, note:
Picea rubens - Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia / Dryopteris intermedia Forest, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: In the Southern and Central Appalachians these are closed to partially open conifer forests dominated by Picea rubens, with associates Tsuga canadensis, Acer pensylvanicum, Acer rubrum, Amelanchier spp., Betula alleghaniensis, and Sorbus americana. In stands of this type Abies fraseri is a minor component or entirely absent. In the vicinity of Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains, this association occurs on long protected slopes that extend from low to very high elevations. In these sheltered situations Tsuga canadensis may be a codominant, and the evergreen shrub layer (primarily Rhododendron maximum) is nearly closed, producing stands whose understory is dominated by ericaceous shrubs with few to no herbaceous species (a so-called "ericad desert"). On more-exposed sites the variable shrub layer is dominated by Rhododendron maximum, with associates of Ilex montana, Kalmia latifolia, Viburnum lantanoides, and Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides. In some examples, the shrub layer can include a mixture of Rhododendron catawbiense and Rhododendron maximum. Other minor shrub components can include Vaccinium simulatum, Vaccinium erythrocarpum, and Aronia melanocarpa. The sparse herbaceous layer for more open situations can include Clintonia borealis, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Dryopteris campyloptera, Dryopteris intermedia, Huperzia lucidula, Lycopodium clavatum, Lycopodium obscurum, Lycopodium dendroideum, Lycopodium hickeyi (= Lycopodium obscurum var. isophyllum), Medeola virginiana, Mitchella repens, Oxalis montana, Trillium undulatum, and Rugelia nudicaulis (in the Great Smoky Mountains). Nonvascular plants are common, especially on moister sites, where they grow on branches and rocks and around the bases of trees and shrubs. Bryophyte species include Bazzania trilobata, Hylocomium splendens, Polytrichum sp., Brotherella recurvans, and Dicranum sp.
Dynamics: No Data Available
Environmental Description: This association occurs on steep to gentle, middle to high slopes between 945 and 1524 m (3100-5000 feet) elevation. Sites range from those that are relatively exposed, rocky and subjected to disturbance by wind and ice, to more sheltered lower slopes. Some stands also occur on nearly flat ridgetops (J. Vanderhorst pers. comm.) Soils are well-drained and high in organic matter. In the vicinity of Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains, this association occurs on long protected slopes that extend from low to very high elevations. In these sheltered situations Tsuga canadensis is a codominant, and the evergreen shrub layer is nearly closed, producing low cover and diversity of herbaceous species. On more-exposed sites the shrub layer may be more open, and a sparse to moderate herb layer may be present. It descends to 945 m (3100 feet) in the Central Appalachians. In local landscapes of the Southern Blue Ridge and Central Appalachians, this association tends to occur bimodally, on high ridges and summits and steep, rocky upper slopes, and at lower elevations in sheltered frost-pocket situations, where Picea rubens apparently has a competitive advantage because of moist, acidic, organic soils and/or cold-air drainage.
Geographic Range: This association ranges sporadically at appropriate elevations from the Great Smoky Mountains in the Southern Blue Ridge of North Carolina and Tennessee, north to the Central Appalachians in West Virginia. It is not known from Pennsylvania.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: 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
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: G2G3
Greasons: This and related vegetation types are environmentally restricted within a somewhat geographically restricted range. Their former extent has been reduced to more-or-less isolated, small patches by logging and subsequent fires (Allard and Leonard 1952, Clarkson 1964, Pielke 1981, Stephenson and Clovis 1983). Grank changed to G2G3 from G2? with merging in of two related associations (March 2005). The range of the combined type is from West Virginia south to North Carolina and Tennessee.
Concept Lineage: CEGL006272, CEGL006163 (subsequently merged into CEGL006152) were merged into a revised and expanded CEGL006152. Apparent differences in environment and composition did not hold up in an expanded analysis of new data and additional scrutiny of the origin of these two merged types in the USNVC.
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: = Picea rubens - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum Forest [Red Spruce - Rhododendron Forest] (Vanderhorst 2015)
< IA4a. Red Spruce - Fraser Fir Forest (Allard 1990)
< Red Spruce - Fraser Fir: 34 (Eyre 1980)
? Red spruce-great laurel forest (CAP pers. comm. 1998)
Concept Author(s): Eastern Ecology Group
Author of Description: M. Pyne
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 31Dec2012
References:
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  • 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.
  • Allard, H. A., and E. C. Leonard. 1952. The Canaan and the Stony River valleys of West Virginia, their former magnificent spruce forests, their vegetation and floristics today. Castanea 17:1-60.
  • Byers, E. A., J. P. Vanderhorst, and B. P. Streets. 2010. Classification and conservation assessment of upland red spruce communities in West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins.
  • CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
  • Clarkson, R. B. 1964. Tumult on the mountains: Lumbering in West Virginia - 1770-1920. McClain Printing Co., Parsons, WV. 410 pp.
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