Common (Translated Scientific) Name: American Beech - White Oak / (Southern Sugar Maple, Chalk Maple) / Eared Goldenrod Forest
Colloquial Name: West Gulf Coastal Plain Beech - White Oak Forest (Subcalcareous Type)
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This mesic, subcalcareous forest of the West Gulf Coastal Plain of eastern Texas and western Louisiana is typically dominated by an uneven-aged canopy of Fagus grandifolia and Quercus alba. It is further characterized by a rich, vernal understory flora and the presence of a number of species which indicate both mesic and calciphilic habitats in the West Gulf Coastal Plain, such as Acer leucoderme, Acer barbatum, Cercis canadensis var. canadensis, Hamamelis virginiana, Solidago auriculata, Lithospermum tuberosum, Cynoglossum virginianum, Uvularia perfoliata, Dioscorea villosa, and Smilax pumila. This type remains incompletely documented and understood due to relatively recent recognition of the existence of Acer leucoderme in eastern Texas. Viburnum dentatum, Viburnum acerifolium, Aesculus pavia var. pavia, Ilex opaca var. opaca, Asimina triloba, Ostrya virginiana, Carpinus caroliniana ssp. caroliniana, Cornus florida, and Styrax grandifolius are also indicative of this type.
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: The geographic range of Acer leucoderme is much more restricted than that of Acer barbatum (Little 1979a) and is especially limited in eastern Texas where the species is has been reported from only 5 counties (Bridges and Orzell 1989a). Bridges and Orzell (1989a) first documented the occurrence of Acer leucoderme in eastern Texas; omission of this important indicator tree from taxonomic treatments for the region (Correll and Johnston 1970, Nixon 1985) continues to hinder understanding of this community type. Restricting the concept of this type to presence of Acer leucoderme would thus create a much rarer type. Excellent characteristic examples can be found at central and northern Sabine National Forest, rarely on the northern Angelina National Forest, and Brushy Heads (western Vernon Parish, Louisiana).
Similar NVC Types:
Quercus falcata - Quercus stellata - (Pinus taeda) West Gulf Coastal Plain Forest, note:
Quercus alba - Quercus hemisphaerica / Prunus caroliniana - Persea borbonia - Viburnum acerifolium Forest, note:
Quercus shumardii - Fraxinus americana - Carya myristiciformis / Viburnum dentatum / Carex cherokeensis Forest, note: is a calcareous forest not dominated by Fagus grandifolia; it has a more restricted distribution and is a component of the Keiffer Prairie-forest complex occurring on outcrops of the Cook Mountain geologic formation in Louisiana.
Pinus taeda - Quercus alba - Carya alba / Acer barbatum - (Acer leucoderme) Forest, note: may grade into this type upslope; it is often drier and has over 25% of its canopy cover constituted by Pinus taeda.
Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba - (Acer barbatum) / Mixed Herbs Forest, note:
Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba / Ilex opaca var. opaca / Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides Forest, note: is the West Gulf Coastal Plain acidic mesic forest equivalent; the two types may occur in close proximity and occasionally may be difficult to distinguish.
Quercus alba / Acer leucoderme - Ostrya virginiana / Solidago auriculata Forest, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: This forest is dominated by a canopy of Fagus grandifolia and Quercus alba. Acer barbatum and/or Acer leucoderme are usually present in the subcanopy. Associated species may also include Fraxinus americana, Carya myristiciformis, Ulmus americana, Ulmus alata, Quercus falcata, Quercus shumardii, Tilia americana var. caroliniana, Acer rubrum, Carya texana, Diospyros virginiana, Quercus michauxii, Celtis laevigata, Ulmus rubra, Carya ovata, Gleditsia triacanthos, Liquidambar styraciflua, Nyssa sylvatica, Prunus serotina, Morus rubra, and Quercus stellata. The canopy is generally closed and heavily deciduous-dominated. Phoradendron spp., Tillandsia usneoides, and Pleopeltis polypodioides ssp. polypodioides may be present on the canopy species. The scattered to patchy shrub stratum includes regenerating canopy species and other species such as Crataegus marshallii, Crataegus spathulata, Aesculus pavia, Asimina triloba, Ostrya virginiana, Carpinus caroliniana, Cornus florida, Cercis canadensis, Viburnum dentatum, Viburnum acerifolium, and Styrax grandifolius. The sparse herbaceous layer may include species such as Polystichum acrostichoides, Scleria oligantha, Solidago auriculata, Symphyotrichum drummondii (= Aster drummondii), Helianthus hirsutus, Galium circaezans, Vicia minutiflora, Lithospermum tuberosum, Uvularia perfoliata, Cynoglossum virginianum, Arisaema triphyllum, Mitchella repens, Pedicularis canadensis, Spigelia marilandica, Podophyllum peltatum, Tragia cordata, and Smilax herbacea (Martin and Smith 1991). The most frequent canopy associates at the Acer leucoderme sites described by Bridges and Orzell (1989a) include these additional species: Carya cordiformis, Carya ovata, and Carya alba (= Carya tomentosa). They also add understory species such as Carex amphibola, Carex oxylepis, Carex retroflexa, Carex willdenowii, Sanguinaria canadensis, Phegopteris hexagonoptera (= Thelypteris hexagonoptera), and Luzula echinata to the potential list of associates. A single plot ascribed to this type on the Sabine National Forest completely lacked Fagus grandifolia in the overstory and was heavily dominated by Quercus alba (NatureServe Ecology unpubl. data). Regionally rare species that may occur in this community include Cypripedium kentuckiense, Solidago auriculata, and Taenidia integerrima.
Dynamics: This forest is not a pyrogenic community and experiences very infrequent fires due to its position on slopes, its generally moist conditions, and the lack of available fuel generated by the relatively inflammable deciduous leaf litter. This association occurs on portions of the landscape where periodic fires were presumably not common, especially mesic steep slopes, and mid to lower slopes along rivers and small streams throughout portions of the West Gulf Coastal Plain which are influenced by high pH substrate. Uncommon to rare windstorms, diseases and insects are the major disturbances in this uneven-aged forest. Regeneration occurs primarily in canopy gaps (Martin and Smith 1991).
Environmental Description: This forest occurs on sandy loams and clays, typically with stratified acidic clays over calcareous parent material. Although the surface layers are often circumneutral, the subsoil is moderately alkaline (pH >7.0). Typical soil series are Hollywood and Vaiden silty clay and Cuthbert and Hornbeck clay. Associated geology includes the Fleming Formation in Louisiana and Weches, Reklaw, Wilcox, Cook Mountain, and Yegua formations in eastern Texas where the forest occurs almost exclusively on steep slopes and protected ravines.
Geographic Range: This association is known from the West Gulf Coastal Plain of Louisiana and Texas, and ranges into the Upper West Gulf Coastal Plain of Texas and possibly Arkansas and Louisiana.
States/Provinces: AR?, LA, TX
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (1994/1995)|
Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Confident or certain
Mississippi Alluvial Basin Section
Confident or certain
Confidence Level: Low - Poorly Documented
Confidence Level Comments:
Greasons: This association occurs in a small geographic area and is further limited by the paucity of calcareous / subcalcareous substrate. It has been subjected to many of the same anthropogenic disturbances typically associated with other mesic forests of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Intact occurrences of this association have now become 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. Although most remaining examples of this association are difficult to enter with logging or farm machinery (due to occurrence on steep slopes and ravines), 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)
< IA8b. Coastal Plain Calcareous Mesic Forest (Allard 1990)
< IA8e. Beech - Magnolia Forest (Allard 1990)
Concept Author(s): J.E. Mohan and L.M. Smith, mod. R.E. Evans
Author of Description: J.E. Mohan, L.M. Smith, R.E. Evans
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.
- Bridges, E. L., and S. L. Orzell. 1989a. Longleaf pine communities of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Natural Areas Journal 9:246-263.
- Correll, D. S., and M. C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation. Renner, TX. (Second printing, 1979. University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson) 1881 pp.
- Diamond, D. D. 1993. Classification of the plant communities of Texas (series level). Unpublished document. Texas Natural Heritage Program, Austin. 25 pp.
- 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.
- Little, E. L., Jr. 1979a. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). USDA Agricultural Handbook No. 541. 375 pp.
- LNHP [Louisiana Natural Heritage Program]. 2009. Natural communities of Louisiana. Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Baton Rouge. 46 pp. [http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/page_wildlife/6776-Rare%20Natural%20Communities/LA_NAT_COM.pdf]
- MacRoberts, B. R., and M. H. MacRoberts. 1997c. Floristics of beech-hardwood forest in east Texas. Phytologia 82(1):20-29.
- 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.
- 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. 1985. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of East Texas. Illustrated by Bruce Lyndon Cummingham. Bruce Lyndon Cummingham Productions, Nacogdoches. 240 pp.
- 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.
- 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.
- USFS [U.S. Forest Service]. 1988. Silvicultural examination and prescription field book. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region. Atlanta, GA. 35 pp.