Common (Translated Scientific) Name: American Beech - Southern Magnolia - White Oak Forest Macrogroup
Colloquial Name: Southern Mesic Mixed Broadleaf Forest
Hierarchy Level: Macrogroup
Type Concept: This macrogroup occurs on the Gulf and Atlantic coastal plains on slopes, bluffs, or sheltered ravines where fire is naturally rare. It includes mixed evergreen broad-leaved forests within the warm-temperate climate zone, represented by the codominance of Magnolia grandiflora, within its range. Also included are deciduous broad-leaved forests on the inner coastal plains, north or inland of the range of Magnolia grandiflora. Stands are on mesic or dry-mesic sites on a variety of soils. The vegetation typically includes species such as Fagus grandifolia, Magnolia grandiflora, Quercus alba, Pinus glabra (east of the Mississippi River), Carya spp., Liriodendron tulipifera, Liquidambar styraciflua, Acer barbatum, Acer rubrum, Nyssa sylvatica, Fraxinus americana, Magnolia acuminata, Magnolia macrophylla, Magnolia pyramidata, and Magnolia tripetala (these four occur in scattered areas in the coastal plain). On sites with richer soils there tend to be spring ephemeral wildflowers typical of areas further north, such as Trillium spp. Examples in the Florida Panhandle have among the highest diversity of trees and shrubs of any forests in the United States.
Diagnostic Characteristics: The vegetation of these southern coastal plain forests includes species such as Fagus grandifolia, Quercus alba, Magnolia grandiflora, Acer barbatum, Pinus glabra (east of the Mississippi River), and other species of broadleaf evergreen or deciduous trees and shrubs, such as Nyssa sylvatica, Fraxinus americana, Carya alba, Carya glabra, Ulmus alata, Ulmus americana, Ulmus rubra, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Liquidambar styraciflua.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features: Fagus grandifolia, Magnolia grandiflora and Quercus alba are often codominant and are characteristic. Magnolia grandiflora does not occur in the northern part of the range of this macrogroup, and in the Carolinas only naturally occurs near the coast, south of the Cape Fear River.
Classification Comments: The range of this macrogroup includes warm-temperate forests with Magnolia grandiflora as well as coastal plain forests north and inland of the range of Magnolia grandiflora. See Greller (1989) for comments on the definition of this type.
Similar NVC Types:
M016 Southern & South-Central Oak - Pine Forest & Woodland, note: occurs just to the north on a variety of sites in the coastal plain and Piedmont, perhaps some associations occurring in the cool temperate climatic zone need to be moved from M008 to M016.
M882 Central Midwest Mesic Forest, note:
M883 Appalachian-Interior-Northeastern Mesic Forest, note:
M885 Southeastern Coastal Plain Evergreen Oak - Mixed Hardwood Forest, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: These are mesic forests on slopes and in ravines (and less frequently upper stream and river terraces) of the southern coastal plains typically with a combination of broad-leaved evergreen trees, broad-leaved deciduous trees, and evergreen needle-leaved trees. Stands lacking Magnolia grandiflora especially north of its range, are dominated by deciduous broad-leaved trees.
Floristics: The vegetation of these forests typically includes species such as Fagus grandifolia, Magnolia grandiflora, Quercus alba, Pinus glabra (east of the Mississippi River), Carya spp., Liriodendron tulipifera, Liquidambar styraciflua, Acer barbatum, Acer rubrum, Nyssa sylvatica, and Fraxinus americana. Trees and shrubs include both broad-leaved deciduous and evergreen species. The dominance of evergreen species increases to the south, especially within the range of Magnolia grandiflora. Needle-leaved evergreen species also may be present, such as Pinus glabra or Pinus taeda. North of the range of Magnolia grandiflora, broad-leaved evergreen shrubs and lianas may still be present, such as Prunus caroliniana, Symplocos tinctoria, Persea palustris, Ilex opaca, Decumaria barbara, Smilax tamnoides (= Smilax hispida), Gelsemium sempervirens, Sabal minor, and Viburnum rufidulum. Particularly on richer soil sites, there tend to be spring ephemeral wildflowers typical of areas further north, such as Trillium spp. Examples in the Florida Panhandle have the highest diversity of trees and shrubs of any forests in the United States (Platt and Schwartz 1990).
Dynamics: In these forests, natural disturbance occurs in in the form of canopy gaps. These forests occur in ravines and on slopes near rivers or creeks, and are naturally protected from wildland fire. Wind and heavy rain from hurricanes can cause canopy gaps where trees are toppled or broken. Certain trees particularly benefit from canopy gaps and other canopy disturbances, these include Liquidambar styraciflua, Pinus glabra, and Pinus taeda.
Environmental Description: Sites are often found along slopes, bluffs, or sheltered ravines above perennial streams and rivers in the coastal plain region. This system occurs in limited areas on a variety of mesic to dry-mesic, upland sites. Some examples occur on mesic flats between drier pine-dominated uplands and floodplains or on local high areas within bottomland terraces or nonriverine wet flats. The climate zone is mainly warm-temperate, humid. Average rainfall is 100-150 cm (40-60 inches) annually. Greller (2013) describes the climatic relations of this type to other eastern U.S. and Asian cool-temperate forest types. Soil/substrate/hydrology: These sites mostly have moderate to high fertility and moisture retention. Soils can be quite variable, ranging from coarse to loamy in surface texture. Soils are not saturated for any significant time during the growing season and seldom are extremely dry. Soils developed from calcareous materials or rich alluvium may be basic; others are strongly acidic. Bluffs in Mississippi (such as along the eastern edge of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain) generally have loess soil, which is fine-textured. Richer and more mesic stands occur in more strongly concave areas with fine textured soil, including loess.
Geographic Range: The range of this forest macrogroup is from southeastern Maryland and eastern Virginia to central Florida, and west to Arkansas and eastern Texas. In Mississippi and Tennessee it occurs along the Loess Bluffs on the east side of the Mississippi River Alluvial Plain.
States/Provinces: AL, AR, DE?, FL, GA, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)|
Southeastern Mixed Forest Province
Confident or certain
White and Black River Alluvial Plains Section
Confident or certain
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Synonomy: > Beech-Magnolia Forest (Braun 1950)
>< Floodplain Hardwood Pine Forest (Marks and Harcombe 1981)
>< Lower Slope Hardwood Pine Forest (Marks and Harcombe 1981)
= Mesic Slope Forests (Edwards et al. 2013)
> Mesophytic Mixed Hardwoods (Braun 1950)
= Southeastern evergreen forests (Delcourt and Delcourt 2000)
= Southern Mixed Hardwood Forest (Quarterman and Keever 1962)
= Southern Mixed Hardwoods Group (Monk et al. 1989)
= Temperate Hardwood Forest (Platt and Schwartz 1990)
= southern mixed hardwoods (Monk et al. 1990)
= upland mixed hardwoods (Christensen 2000)
Concept Author(s): Monk et al. (1989)
Author of Description: C.W. Nordman and R.K. Peet
Version Date: 15Oct2014
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