Common (Translated Scientific) Name: American Beech - White Oak / American Holly / Southern Ladyfern Forest
Colloquial Name: West Gulf Coastal Plain Beech - White Oak Forest (Typic Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This mesic acidic forest of the West Gulf Coastal Plain is dominated by Fagus grandifolia and Quercus alba. It is further typified by the presence of a fairly diverse number of species which indicate high-quality mesic, acidic habitats in the region. The scattered to patchy tall-shrub stratum includes Ilex opaca var. opaca, Carpinus caroliniana, Ostrya virginiana, Cornus florida, Styrax grandifolius, and Crataegus marshallii. The sparse herbaceous layer includes Polystichum acrostichoides, Trillium gracile, Prenanthes altissima (uncommon), Spigelia marilandica (uncommon), Galium circaezans, Desmodium nudiflorum, Uvularia perfoliata, Polygonatum biflorum, Arisaema triphyllum, Viola walteri, Mitchella repens, Tipularia discolor, Lilium michauxii, Smilax herbacea (uncommon-rare), and Podophyllum peltatum.
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: This type may include a number of understory species which become quite rare in the western part of the region, e.g., Sanguinaria canadensis and Uvularia perfoliata [see Kral 1966, Orzell 1990]. The inclusion of Magnolia acuminata in this type is quite interesting given the narrow range of this species in the region. It is apparently rare in the Arkansas portion of the region (Smith 1988a) and is not found at all in Texas (Hatch et al. 1990). This type is present at the Beech Creek site in southern Arkansas (T. Foti pers. comm. 2001)
Similar NVC Types:
Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba - Liquidambar styraciflua / Magnolia grandiflora / Smilax pumila Forest, note:
Pinus taeda - Quercus alba - (Fagus grandifolia) / Smilax pumila - Mitchella repens Forest, note:
Quercus falcata - Quercus stellata - (Pinus taeda) West Gulf Coastal Plain Forest, note:
Fagus grandifolia - Magnolia grandiflora - Quercus alba / Carpinus caroliniana - Ostrya virginiana Forest, note: is another acidic, mesic type from the same geographic area.
Quercus alba - Quercus hemisphaerica / Prunus caroliniana - Persea borbonia - Viburnum acerifolium Forest, note:
Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra - Tilia americana var. caroliniana / Magnolia tripetala / Podophyllum peltatum Forest, note:
Fagus grandifolia - Magnolia virginiana - (Pinus palustris) / Chasmanthium sessiliflorum Sandhill Streamhead Forest, note:
Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba / Acer (barbatum, leucoderme) / Solidago auriculata Forest, note: is the rich mesic forest of the region on more calciphilic substrates. The two types may occur in close proximity and occasionally may be difficult to distinguish.
Fagus grandifolia - Pinus taeda - (Liquidambar styraciflua, Magnolia grandiflora, Quercus alba) Small Stream Forest, note: closely related acid, species composition on small sandy streams of the same region, may spatially co-occur.
Quercus alba - Carya alba / Symplocos tinctoria / Mitchella repens Forest, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: Stands are dominated by a combination of Fagus grandifolia and Quercus alba (NatureServe Ecology unpubl. data, Turner et al. unpubl. data). Some stands may have slightly more Quercus alba than Fagus grandifolia and vice versa (R. Evans pers. obs.). Pinus taeda may occur in the canopy but not as a dominant. Although Fagus grandifolia and Quercus alba may be the only canopy species in some occurrences, canopy species in other occurrences may include Quercus michauxii, Quercus pagoda, Quercus velutina, Quercus nigra, Quercus stellata, Carya alba, Nyssa sylvatica, Liquidambar styraciflua, and Acer rubrum. Liriodendron tulipifera may be present in Arkansas and Louisiana examples, but is not a natural component of this type in Texas or Oklahoma. Magnolia grandiflora may also be present in examples of this type in Louisiana and Texas, but is absent in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Phoradendron leucarpum, Tillandsia usneoides, and Pleopeltis polypodioides (= Polypodium polypodioides) are common epiphytes on the canopy trees. The scattered to patchy tall-shrub stratum includes regenerating canopy species and Ilex opaca var. opaca, Carpinus caroliniana, Ostrya virginiana, Cornus florida, Styrax grandifolius, and Crataegus marshallii. The patchy short-shrub stratum includes Vaccinium virgatum (= Vaccinium amoenum), Vaccinium arboreum, Vaccinium elliottii, Ilex opaca var. opaca, Chionanthus virginicus, Crataegus marshallii, Frangula caroliniana (= Rhamnus caroliniana), Amelanchier arborea, Callicarpa americana, Ilex ambigua, Viburnum acerifolium, Viburnum dentatum, and Viburnum rufidulum. The sparse herbaceous layer includes Polystichum acrostichoides, Trillium spp., Prenanthes altissima, Spigelia marilandica, Galium circaezans, Desmodium nudiflorum, Uvularia perfoliata, Polygonatum biflorum, Arisaema triphyllum, Viola walteri, Mitchella repens, Tipularia discolor, Lilium michauxii, Smilax herbacea, and Podophyllum peltatum. Magnolia acuminata may be present in a few examples of this type, along the eastern and northern periphery of the region associated with especially moist lower slopes. Rare species that may occur in this community include Prenanthes barbata, Cypripedium kentuckiense, and Triphora trianthophora.
Dynamics: This forest is not a pyrogenic community and experiences very infrequent fires due to its position on generally steep slopes and the lack of available fuel generated by the relatively inflammable deciduous leaf litter. Mesic examples on lower slopes probably burn even less frequently than dry/mesic sites on mid to upper slopes. This association occurs on portions of the landscape where periodic fires were rare to nonexistent, especially mesic steep slopes, and mid to lower slopes along rivers and small streams throughout much of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. The main disturbance vectors in this broad-leaved deciduous forest are windthrow and the active erosion that occurs on the steep slopes. As downstream channelization and gully formation cause streams to erode headward, banks are undercut and erosion is catalyzed on the slopes. This active erosion may contribute to the sparse herbaceous layer. Windstorms, diseases and insects are other disturbances in this uneven-aged forest. Regeneration occurs primarily in canopy gaps (Martin and Smith 1991).
Environmental Description: This forest occurs on acidic soils, typically loamy sands or silt loams including Susquehanna silt loam and Betis and Briley loamy fine sands. Associated geology includes the Sparta, Cockfield, Jackson, Vicksburg, Catahoula, and Fleming formations and Pleistocene High Terraces. Hydrology ranges from dry-mesic to mesic; this community is not subject to flooding. This broad-leaved forest is associated with hilly terrain. The slopes from which this community is known are generally steep, and grade down to riparian forests along streams. It is most common on middle and lower slopes (Martin and Smith 1991).
Geographic Range: This community is known from eastern Texas, western Louisiana, southern Arkansas, and southeastern Oklahoma.
States/Provinces: AR, LA, OK, TX
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (1994/1995)|
Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Confident or certain
Middle Coastal Plains, Western Section
Confident or certain
Confidence Level: Low
Confidence Level Comments:
Greasons: Undisturbed, high-quality occurrences of this association are relatively rare. During the early part of the 20th century, much of the landscape within its range was logged or converted to agricultural cropland. In addition, many of these highly productive sites have been converted to commercial pine plantations, eliminating the original hardwood-dominated community altogether. Once it is removed, this community is not readily restored. Most remaining examples of this association are now limited to steep slopes and ravines which are difficult to enter with logging or farm machinery. Current threats include increased erosion, windthrow, and microclimate modification caused by intensive silvicultural practices on adjacent uplands, herbicide use, and vegetation damage by feral hogs. A possible long-term threat is that of global climate change. Many species in this association occur at the southwestern limit of their range (McLeod 1975) and require periods of cold-stratification for their seeds to germinate (Nixon et al. 1980). Increased average temperatures may affect the ability of some of these species to germinate and survive (Kutner and Morse 1996).
Synonomy: < American Beech - White Oak / Mitchella Loamy Moist-Mesic Steep Slopes and Ravines (Turner et al. 1999)
? Beech - Magnolia (69) (USFS 1988)
= Hardwood Slope Forest (Martin and Smith 1991)
= Hardwood Slope Forest (Martin and Smith 1993) [same concept as Martin and Smith (1991)]
< IA8d. Southern Mixed Hardwood Forest (Allard 1990)
< IA8e. Beech - Magnolia Forest (Allard 1990)
< Lower Slope Hardwood Pine Forest (Marks and Harcombe 1981)
? T1B2aI1a. Fagus grandifolia - Ilex opaca (Foti et al. 1994)
Concept Author(s): J. Mohan, after Martin and Smith (1991), mod. S. Landaal
Author of Description: J.E. Mohan after Martin and Smith 1991
Version Date: 31Jan2002
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