Invalid Unit Specified
Association Detail Report: CEGL007208
Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba / Ilex opaca var. opaca / Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
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Translated Name:American Beech - White Oak / American Holly / Southern Ladyfern Forest
Colloquial Name:West Gulf Coastal Plain Beech - White Oak Forest (Typic Type)
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.
No Data Available
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)
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)

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Allard 1990
  • Conant and Collins 1991
  • Diamond 1993
  • Evans, R. pers. comm.
  • Foti 1994a
  • Foti 1994b
  • Foti et al. 1994
  • Foti pers. comm.
  • Hatch et al. 1990
  • Hoagland 1997
  • Hoagland 2000
  • Kral 1966
  • Kutner and Morse 1996
  • LNHP 2009
  • MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1997c
  • Marks and Harcombe 1981
  • Martin and Smith 1991
  • Martin and Smith 1993
  • McLeod 1975
  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern U.S. unpubl. data
  • Nixon et al. 1980a
  • Orzell 1990
  • Smith 1988a
  • Smith 1996a
  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group n.d.
  • TNHS unpubl. data
  • Turner et al. 1999
  • Turner et al. n.d.
  • USFS 1988
  • Zanoni et al. 1979
States/Provinces:AR, LA, OK, TX
Range:This community is known from eastern Texas, western Louisiana, southern Arkansas, and southeastern Oklahoma.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name:Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Province Code:231   Occurrence Status:Confident or certain
Section Name:Middle Coastal Plains, Western Section
Section Code:231E     Occurrence Status:Confident or certain
No Data Available
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.
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).
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).
J.E. Mohan after Martin and Smith 1991      Version Date: 31Jan2002

  • 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.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: Eastern and central North America. Third edition. The Peterson Field Guide Series No. 12. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. 450 pp. plus color plates.
  • Diamond, D. D. 1993. Classification of the plant communities of Texas (series level). Unpublished document. Texas Natural Heritage Program, Austin. 25 pp.
  • Evans, Rob. Personal communication. Regional Ecologist, Plant Conservation Program, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Raleigh, NC.
  • Foti, T. 1994a. Natural communities of Arkansas (terrestrial and palustrine). Unpublished document. Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Little Rock. 2 pp.
  • Foti, T., compiler. 1994b. Natural vegetation classification system of Arkansas, draft five. Unpublished document. Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Little Rock. 8 pp.
  • Foti, T., M. Blaney, X. Li, and K. G. Smith. 1994. A classification system for the natural vegetation of Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 48:50-53.
  • Foti, Tom. Personal communication. Ecologist [retired]. Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Little Rock.
  • Hatch, S. L., K. N. Gandhi, and L. E. Brown. 1990. Checklist of the vascular plants of Texas. Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University System, College Station. 158 pp.
  • Hoagland, B. 2000. The vegetation of Oklahoma: A classification for landscape mapping and conservation planning. The Southwestern Naturalist 45(4):385-420.
  • Hoagland, B. W. 1997. Preliminary plant community classification for Oklahoma. Unpublished draft document, version 35629. University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Natural Heritage Inventory, Norman. 47 pp.
  • Kral, R. 1966. Observations on the flora of the southeastern United States with special reference to northern Louisiana. Sida 2:395-408.
  • Kutner, L. S., and L. E. Morse. 1996. Reintroduction in a changing climate. In: D. A. Falk, C. I. Millar, and M. Olwell, editors. Restoring diversity: Strategies for reintroduction of endangered plants. Island Press, Washington, DC.
  • LNHP [Louisiana Natural Heritage Program]. 2009. Natural communities of Louisiana. Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Baton Rouge. 46 pp. []
  • MacRoberts, B. R., and M. H. MacRoberts. 1997c. Floristics of beech-hardwood forest in east Texas. Phytologia 82(1):20-29.
  • Marks, P. L., and P. A. Harcombe. 1981. Forest vegetation of the Big Thicket, southeast Texas. Ecological Monographs 51:287-305.
  • Martin, D. L., and L. M. Smith. 1991. A survey and description of the natural plant communities of the Kisatchie National Forest, Winn and Kisatchie districts. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Baton Rouge, LA. 372 pp.
  • Martin, D. L., and L. M. Smith. 1993. A survey and description of the natural plant communities of the Kisatchie National Forest, Evangeline and Catahoula districts. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Baton Rouge. 274 pp.
  • McLeod, C. A. 1975. Southwestern limit of Fagus grandifolia Ehrh. Texas Journal of Science 26:179-184.
  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.
  • Nixon, E. S., K. L. Marietta, R. O. Littlejohn, and H. B. Weyland. 1980a. Woody vegetation of an American beech (Fagus grandifolia) community in eastern Texas. Castanea 45:171-180.
  • Orzell, S. L., principal investigator. 1990. Texas Natural Heritage Program inventory of national forest and national grasslands in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Natural Heritage Program, Austin.
  • Smith, K. L. 1988a. Arkansas natural communities classification-aquatic ecosystems. Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Little Rock. 2 pp.
  • Smith, L. M., compiler. 1996a. Natural plant communities in Louisiana currently recognized by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished document. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 2 pp.
  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.
  • TNHS [Texas Natural History Survey]. No date. Unpublished data. Texas Natural History Survey, The Nature Conservancy, San Antonio.
  • Turner, R. L., J. E. Van Kley, L. S. Smith, and R. E. Evans. 1999. Ecological classification system for the national forests and adjacent areas of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. The Nature Conservancy, Nacogdoches, TX. 95 pp. plus appendices.
  • Turner, R. L., J. E. Van Kley, L. S. Smith, and R. E. Evans. No date. Unpublished data from the national forests and adjacent areas of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. The Nature Conservancy, Nacogdoches, TX.
  • USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.
  • Zanoni, T. A., P. G. Risser, and I. H. Butler. 1979. Natural areas for Oklahoma. Oklahoma Natural Heritage Program, Norman. 72 pp.

USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

Date Accessed:

To cite a description:
Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Association level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of the Interior (USDI)
  • Forest Service (FS) - Chair
  • National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVY)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Non U.S. Government
  • NatureServe (NS)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. []

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber-
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (