Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Shining Fetterbush - Inkberry - Swamp Titi Bog & Fen Macrogroup
Colloquial Name: Southeastern Coastal Bog & Fen
Hierarchy Level: Macrogroup
Type Concept: The vegetation of this wetland macrogroup is predominantly dense shrubland. Primarily evergreen shrubs and Smilax laurifolia vines dominate. The characteristic shrubs include Cyrilla racemiflora, Ilex coriacea, Ilex glabra, Lyonia lucida, and Zenobia pulverulenta, which occur along with Smilax laurifolia. The most characteristic tree is Pinus serotina; other scattered trees include Gordonia lasianthus, Magnolia virginiana, and Persea palustris. Herbs are scarce, but small patches dominated by Woodwardia virginica, Carex striata, Sarracenia flava, and Sarracenia purpurea are frequent in some examples. Mosses such as Sphagnum spp. may be common in patches. Under pre-European settlement fire regimes, stands of Arundinaria tecta (canebrakes) would have been more common and extensive, and herbaceous patches would have been more extensive. The vegetation of this macrogroup includes wetlands of organic soils, occurring on broad flats or gentle basins, primarily on the outer terraces of the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia, and also parts of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains further south and west to Georgia and Alabama and possibly Mississippi. Soil saturation, sheetflow, and peat depth create a distinct gradient in structure within pocosins, with the tallest statured woody vegetation on the edges and shortest in the center. Catastrophic fires are important in this macrogroup, naturally occurring at moderate frequency. Fires generally burn all above-ground vegetation in large patches, creating a shifting mosaic. Vegetation structure and biomass recover rapidly in most of the burned areas, primarily by sprouting. In the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain of Alabama, adjacent Georgia, and possibly Mississippi, the wetlands generally occur in small patches on slopes within a matrix of Pinus palustris-dominated vegetation. Wetland conditions are maintained by seepage flow from adjacent uplands. Examples of this macrogroup can vary between densely shrubby and fairly open and herbaceous, depending on frequency of fire and amount of elapsed time since the previous fires.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Cyrilla racemiflora, Ilex coriacea, Ilex glabra, Lyonia lucida, and Zenobia pulverulenta, are the most characteristic evergreen shrubs. Other shrubs of the heath family (Ericaceae) are common. The evergreen vine Smilax laurifolia is found in many examples. Pinus serotina is present at very low cover in some examples. This vegetation is typical of pocosin wetlands.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features: Lyonia lucida, Ilex glabra, and Cyrilla racemiflora are the most characteristic evergreen shrubs. Pinus serotina is present at very low cover in some examples.
Classification Comments: No Data Available
Similar NVC Types:
M032 Southern Coastal Plain Evergreen Hardwood - Conifer Swamp, note: is tree-dominated.
M067 Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Wet Prairie & Marsh, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: The vegetation included in this macrogroup is evergreen shrub-dominated. Some associations may have widely scattered needle-leaved trees. The vegetation may vary in height depending on the fire-return interval. The habitats are influenced by high water tables and organic soils.
Floristics: The vegetation of this macrogroup is typically found in large wetlands called pocosins. The communities have in common a dense shrub layer of wetland shrubs tolerant of the organic soils, low nutrient conditions, and fire. Arundinaria tecta (= Arundinaria gigantea ssp. tecta), Cyrilla racemiflora, Ilex coriacea, Ilex glabra, Lyonia lucida, Lyonia mariana, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera var. cerifera), Symplocos tinctoria, and Zenobia pulverulenta are characteristic and usually dominant in some combination, along with Smilax laurifolia. Pinus serotina is the characteristic tree, and it along with a set of evergreen hardwoods, including Gordonia lasianthus, Magnolia virginiana, and Persea palustris, are generally the only trees present. Under pre-European settlement fire regimes, stands of Arundinaria tecta (canebrakes) would have been more common and extensive. Component communities tend to be low in plant species richness, and woody species richness exceeds herbaceous in most associations, with herbs being limited to small open patches. Some herbs may include Woodwardia virginica and Carex striata var. striata. The physiognomy, in terms of vegetation height and density, is variable, depending on fire history, and can vary from densely shrubby to herbaceous. In current condition, most examples are shrubby, but may have scattered trees.
Dynamics: Under current conditions, the vegetation is predominantly dense shrubland. Herbaceous plants are present only as small patches. Vegetation is typically zoned. The vegetation of pocosins is zoned, with the lowest statured vegetation in the center, with woodlands on the edges and in the smaller occurrences. Under pre-European settlement fire regimes, stands of Arundinaria tecta (canebrakes) would have been more common and extensive. Fire is an important factor in these systems, with the pre-settlement fire regime probably being very different from that observed under current conditions. Natural fire-return intervals are not well-known, but are probably on the order of one to five or more decades in the wettest areas. Peripheral areas may be subject to fire as often as the surrounding vegetation burns, which may naturally have been an average of 3 years. Fires are typically intense due to density and flammability of the vegetation, killing all above-ground vegetation. They are followed by vigorous root sprouting by shrubs and hardwoods, leading to recovery of standing biomass within a few years. Pinus serotina recovers by epicormic sprouting or by regeneration from seeds released from serotinous cones. Fires during droughts may ignite peat, forming holes that take longer to recover. Herb-dominated openings in pocosins may depend on peat fires, though this is not well-documented. Natural fires occur in large patches, creating a shifting patch structure that interacts with the vegetational zonation created by peat depth. The intensity of fire in these systems makes fire control difficult; prescribed burning is seldom done, and wild fires continue to be a significant influence. The larger peatlands are believed to have been created by paludification following natural blocking of drainage (Otte 1981). Peat buildup raises the water table in the center, creating the domed structure of the largest peatlands and allowing the wetland to spread out as wetness is increased at the edges. Deeper pocosin peats contain fossil logs that indicate dominance by a swamp forest in past millennia. Otte (1981) noted that peat fires likely limit the height to which the peat can accumulate, in proportion to how high it can raise the local water table. The dominance of mostly broadleaf evergreen shrubs as opposed to a canopy of deciduous hardwoods distinguishes this macrogroup from nonriverine swamp forests.
Environmental Description: Vegetation of this macrogroup occurs on broad interfluvial flats and in small to large, very gentle basins and swales, largely on the outermost terraces of the Outer Coastal Plain. Some occurrences are in large to small peat-filled Carolina bays (Bennett and Nelson 1991). Smaller patches occur in shallow swales associated with relict coastal dune systems or other irregular sandy surfaces. Soils range from wet mineral soils with mucky surface layers to peats several meters deep. Most of the largest occurrences are domed peatlands with the deepest peat associated with topographic highs in the center, but deep peats are also associated with buried drainage channels. Hydrology is driven by rainfall and sheetflow. The low hydraulic conductivity of the organic material limits interaction with the groundwater. The raised center of domed peatlands is fed only by rainwater and is therefore a true ombrotrophic bog. More peripheral portions are fed by sheetflow from the center, and so receive only acidic water low in nutrients. Occurrences in Carolina bays and other basins appear to be similarly isolated from surface or groundwater inflow from adjacent areas. Soils are normally saturated throughout the winter and well into the growing season, though the organic material may dry enough to burn during droughts. Standing water is limited to local depressions and disturbed areas. Soil saturation and peat depth, with its corresponding nutrient limitation, are the primary drivers of vegetational zonation, as well as the distinction between this macrogroup and adjacent ones, but their effect may be modified by drainage patterns. In the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain, examples may be found along steep to gentle slopes in the historically longleaf pine-dominated landscape.
Geographic Range: Vegetation of this macrogroup ranges through the southern coastal plains, being most prevalent in peatland regions of North Carolina, and extending into northern South Carolina and southeastern Virginia, extending in the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain from Florida to Louisiana.
States/Provinces: AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, VA
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)|
Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Confident or certain
Northern Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Confident or certain
Confidence Level: High
Confidence Level Comments:
Synonomy: ? Bay Forest (Bennett and Nelson 1991)
> Pocosin (Bennett and Nelson 1991)
= Pocosins (Christensen 2000)
= Pocosins (Richardson and Gibbons 1993)
>< Pond Pine Woodland (Bennett and Nelson 1991)
Concept Author(s): Faber-Langendoen et al. (2014)
Author of Description: M. Pyne and C.W. Nordman
Version Date: 15Oct2014
- Bennett, S. H., and J. B. Nelson. 1991. Distribution and status of Carolina bays in South Carolina. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Nongame and Heritage Trust Section, Columbia. 88 pp.
- Christensen, N. L. 2000. Vegetation of the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Pages 398-448 in: M. G. Barbour and W. D. Billings, editors. North American terrestrial vegetation. Second edition. Cambridge University Press, New York. 434 pp.
- Christensen, N. L., R. B. Wilbur, and J. S. McLean. 1988. Soil-vegetation correlations in pocosins of Croatan National Forest, North Carolina. USDI Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 88 (28). 98 pp.
- Christensen, N., R. Burchell, A. Liggett, and E. Simms. 1981. The structure and development of pocosin vegetation. Pages 43-61 in: C. J. Richardson, editor. Pocosin wetlands: An integrated analysis of Coastal Plain freshwater bogs in North Carolina. Hutchinson Ross Publishing Company, Stroudsburg, PA.
- Faber-Langendoen, D., J. Drake, S. Gawler, M. Hall, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, L. Sneddon, K. Schulz, J. Teague, M. Russo, K. Snow, and P. Comer, editors. 2010-2019a. Divisions, Macrogroups and Groups for the Revised U.S. National Vegetation Classification. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. plus appendices. [in preparation]
- Frost, C. C. 1989. History and status of remnant pocosin, canebrake and white cedar wetlands in Virginia. Unpublished report. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
- Otte, L. J. 1981. Origin, development, and maintenance of the pocosin wetlands of North Carolina. Unpublished report to the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, Raleigh.
- Richardson, C. J. 2003. Pocosins: Hydrologically isolated or integrated wetlands on the landscape? Wetlands 23:563-576.
- Richardson, C. J., and J. W. Gibbons. 1993. Pocosins, Carolina bays, and mountain bogs. Pages 257-310 in: W. H. Martin, S. G. Boyce, and A. C. Echternacht, editors. Biodiversity of the southeastern United States: Lowland terrestrial communities. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York.
- Sharitz, R. R., and J. W. Gibbons. 1982. The ecology of southeastern shrub bogs (pocosins) and Carolina bays: A community profile. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Service. FWS/OBS-82/O4. Washington, DC. 93 pp.