Invalid Unit Specified
CEGL006286 Quercus montana - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Chestnut Oak - Northern Red Oak / Great Laurel / Beetleweed Forest
Colloquial Name: Chestnut Oak Forest (Mesic Slope Heath Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This forest is known from protected, usually steep slopes in the Southern Blue Ridge and ranges into adjacent areas of the upper Piedmont to the east and the Allegheny and Cumberland Mountains and Southern Ridge and Valley to the west and north. In the southern portion of its range (Southern Blue Ridge), it usually occurs on north-facing slopes, while in the northern part of its range (the Allegheny and Cumberland Mountains in West Virginia), most sites have southerly to westerly aspects. This is typically a midslope to lower slope type, but it can be found on upper slopes in a more sheltered position. This forest is found at elevations between 760 and 1220 m (2500-4000 feet) in the Southern Blue Ridge and at somewhat lower elevations (200-760 m) in the Allegheny and Cumberland Mountains in West Virginia. Canopies in these forests are dominated by Quercus montana, usually with lesser amounts of Quercus rubra and/or Acer rubrum, and always occurring over a dense, very tall shrub stratum (2-6 m) of Rhododendron maximum. In some examples, this community may also be codominated or dominated by Quercus velutina, Quercus alba, or Betula lenta. Additional trees with lower constancy and cover in the canopy and subcanopy include Tsuga canadensis, Oxydendrum arboreum, Fagus grandifolia, and Nyssa sylvatica. On some sites, Tsuga canadensis may have dense understory regeneration. In some areas of the Southern Blue Ridge, Rhododendron minus may dominate the shrub layer. Other common shrubs can include Gaylussacia ursina (in the Southern Blue Ridge), Kalmia latifolia, Smilax rotundifolia, Ilex opaca var. opaca, and/or Hamamelis virginiana. Herbs are sparse. The ground cover is dominated by leaf litter, but Galax urceolata is found in most occurrences except at the northern limit of this type's range in West Virginia. Other herb species that can be typical include Chimaphila maculata, Goodyera pubescens, Polystichum acrostichoides, Maianthemum racemosum, Solidago caesia, Mitchella repens, Eurybia divaricata, Dryopteris marginalis, and Dioscorea quaternata. Some examples may have sparse (woodland-like) canopies and occur in association with rock outcroppings. Vascular plant species richness in seven 400-m2 West Virginia plots ranges from 12 to 49 taxa (mean = 30.1).
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: This association is more protected and more mesic than Quercus (montana, coccinea) / Kalmia latifolia / (Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens) Forest (CEGL006271). It occurs at lower elevations and on more protected topographic positions than Quercus rubra / (Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron maximum) / Galax urceolata Forest (CEGL007299). It is much less diverse than Quercus montana - (Quercus rubra) - Carya spp. / Oxydendrum arboreum - Cornus florida Forest (CEGL007267), lacking the diverse herbaceous and woody components found in that association. Stands similar to this association but with significant cover by Tsuga canadensis in the canopy layers are classified as Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest (CEGL007543).

After this association was first described from the Southern Appalachians, it was next attributed to the Gauley River gorge in southern West Virginia (Vanderhorst et al. 2010). More recently, similar vegetation has been sampled by plots on the western flanks of the Allegheny Mountains in northern West Virginia. Similar vegetation has also been observed in western Pennsylvania. More work is needed to determine if West Virginia and Pennsylvania stands should constitute a separate association.
Similar NVC Types:
Liriodendron tulipifera - Betula lenta - Tsuga canadensis / Rhododendron maximum Forest, note:
Quercus (montana, coccinea) / Kalmia latifolia / (Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens) Forest, note:
Quercus rubra / (Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron catawbiense, Rhododendron maximum) / Galax urceolata Forest, note:
Quercus montana / Rhododendron catawbiense - Kalmia latifolia Forest, note: is mostly of the Central Appalachians and only peripherally in the northern portion of the Southern Blue Ridge; occupies drier sites and is characterized by a dense Rhododendron catawbiense shrub layer.
Acer rubrum - Betula lenta - Magnolia fraseri / (Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia) Ruderal Forest, note:
Quercus montana - (Quercus rubra) - Carya spp. / Oxydendrum arboreum - Cornus florida Forest, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: Canopies in these forests are dominated by Quercus montana (= Quercus prinus), usually with lesser amounts of Quercus rubra and/or Acer rubrum, and always occurring over a dense, very tall shrub stratum (2-6 m) of Rhododendron maximum. In some examples, this community may also be codominated or dominated by Quercus velutina, Quercus alba, or Betula lenta. Additional trees with lower constancy and cover in the canopy and subcanopy include Tsuga canadensis, Oxydendrum arboreum, Fagus grandifolia, and Nyssa sylvatica. On some sites, Tsuga canadensis may have dense understory regeneration. In some areas of the Southern Blue Ridge, Rhododendron minus may dominate the shrub layer. Other common shrubs can include Gaylussacia ursina (in the Southern Blue Ridge), Kalmia latifolia, Smilax rotundifolia, Ilex opaca var. opaca, and/or Hamamelis virginiana. Herbs are sparse. The ground cover is dominated by leaf litter, but Galax urceolata is found in most occurrences except at the northern limit of this type's range in West Virginia. Other herb species that can be typical include Chimaphila maculata, Goodyera pubescens, Polystichum acrostichoides, Maianthemum racemosum, Solidago caesia, Mitchella repens, Eurybia divaricata, Dryopteris marginalis, and Dioscorea quaternata. Some examples may have sparse (woodland-like) canopies and occur in association with rock outcroppings. Vascular plant species richness in seven 400-m2 WV plots ranges from 12 to 49 taxa (mean = 30.1).
Dynamics: No Data Available
Environmental Description: This forest is known from protected, usually steep slopes in the Southern Blue Ridge and ranges into adjacent areas of the upper Piedmont to the east and Allegheny and Cumberland Mountains and Southern Ridge and Valley to the west and north. In the southern portion of its range (Southern Blue Ridge), it usually occurs on north-facing slopes, while in the northern part of its range (the Cumberlands in WV), most sites have southerly to westerly aspects. This is typically a midslope to lower slope type, but it can be found on upper slopes in a more sheltered position. This forest is found at elevations between 760 and 1220 m (2500-4000 feet) in the Southern Blue Ridge and at somewhat lower elevations (200-760 m) in the Allegheny and Cumberland mountains in West Virginia. Soils in WV plots are described as well- to rapidly-drained, dry to somewhat moist sandy loam and sandy clay loam that test very strongly to extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.20). Soils of some sites may be classified as folists, characterized by deep organic horizons (duff) over bouldery colluvium.
Geographic Range: This community occurs in the Southern Blue Ridge of northeastern Georgia, northwestern South Carolina, north through eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southwestern Virginia. It extends into the Allegheny and Cumberland mountains and Southern Ridge and Valley of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. Its range also extends into the upper Piedmont of North Carolina.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: GA, KY, NC, SC, 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: G4
Greasons: This community is uncommon, but not rare, throughout most of its range. As currently defined, it is a regional endemic, found only in the Southern Blue Ridge and adjacent regions of the upper Piedmont and Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley. This community is often overlooked or not distinguished separately in inventories; thus, it is more common than the number of documented occurrences suggests.
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: > Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Leucobryum glaucum Forest [Chestnut Oak -Red Oak / Great Laurel Forest] (Vanderhorst 2017d)
< Chestnut Oak: 44 (Eyre 1980)
< IA6d. Chestnut Oak Slope and Ridge Forest (Allard 1990)
Concept Author(s): S. Simon and K.D. Patterson
Author of Description: K.D. Patterson, R. White and S.C. Gawler
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 20Dec2018
References:
  • 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.
  • 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., 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/]
  • NatureServe Ecology - Southeastern United States. No date. Unpublished data. NatureServe, Durham, NC.
  • Nelson, J. B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina: Initial classification and description. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Columbia, SC. 55 pp.
  • 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.
  • Schafale, Mike P. Personal communication. Ecologist, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
  • Simon, Steve. Personal communication. Ecologist. USDA Forest Service, National Forests in North Carolina, Asheville, NC.
  • 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. 2017d. Wild vegetation of West Virginia: Oak / heath forests. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program. [http://www.wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/Factsheets/OakHeath.shtm]
  • Vanderhorst, J. P., B. P. Streets, Z. Arcaro, and S. C. Gawler. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping at Gauley River National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2010/148. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.
  • White, Jr., R. D. 2003. Vascular plant inventory and plant community classification for Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 160 pp.
  • White, R. D., Jr. 2006. Vascular plant inventory and ecological community classification for Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. NatureServe, Durham, NC. 246 pp.