Common (Translated Scientific) Name: White Oak - Mockernut Hickory Mesic Coastal Plain Forest Alliance
Colloquial Name: Coastal Plain Mesic Oak - Hickory Forest
Hierarchy Level: Alliance
Type Concept: This alliance includes hardwood forests of the Southeastern Coastal Plain dominated by Quercus alba, frequently with Carya alba. Stands assigned to this alliance are intermediate in moisture status, falling between the more mesic Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba forests, and drier Quercus forests in which Quercus alba is codominant with Quercus falcata and/or Quercus stellata. These forests are found from the Atlantic Coastal Plain of Virginia and North Carolina, south and west to the Gulf Coastal Plain of Arkansas and Texas, and likely is distributed sparingly in the Piedmont. Forests in this alliance can occur on a variety of sites including sandy swamp islands, coastal plain slopes, ridgetops, and other mesic to dry-mesic fire-sheltered areas on acidic to circumneutral soils.
Diagnostic Characteristics: The combination of Quercus alba, frequently with Carya alba, located in the southeastern coastal plains, distinguishes this alliance.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: No Data Available
Similar NVC Types:
Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba - Quercus nigra Coastal Plain Forest Alliance, note: is southern mesic forests with beech-oak dominance.
Quercus shumardii - Quercus pagoda - Fraxinus americana Coastal Plain Forest Alliance, note: is rich mesic cherrybark oak-Shumard oak forest.
Acer barbatum - Quercus shumardii - Fraxinus americana Coastal Plain Forest Alliance, note: is southern mesic forest without beech-oak dominance.
Physiognomy and Structure: These are closed-canopy forests with dense and diverse shrub and herbaceous strata.
Floristics: These hardwood forests are dominated by Quercus alba, frequently with Carya alba. Other canopy trees that may be present include Carya ovata, Carya glabra, Carya illinoinensis, Liquidambar styraciflua, Liriodendron tulipifera, Pinus taeda, Quercus falcata, Quercus nigra, Quercus phellos, Quercus rubra, and Quercus velutina. One association may contain Chamaecyparis thyoides. The subcanopy may include Acer barbatum, Cornus florida, Ilex opaca, Ostrya virginiana, and Oxydendrum arboreum. Shrubs may include Arundinaria gigantea, Asimina triloba, Clethra alnifolia, Gaylussacia frondosa, Hamamelis virginiana, Kalmia latifolia, Lyonia lucida, Symplocos tinctoria, and Vaccinium stamineum. Herbs may have low cover and may include Chasmanthium sessiliflorum, Chimaphila maculata, Cynoglossum virginianum, Mitchella repens, and others.
Dynamics: In the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the sites where this vegetation occurs are somewhat protected from most natural fires by some combination of steeper topography, isolation from the spread of fire, and relatively limited flammability of the vegetation. This different fire regime serves to maintain the compositional distinctiveness relative to adjacent Pinus palustris-dominated stands. If fire does occur, it is likely to be low in intensity and have limited ecological effects. However, there is some evidence that this kind of vegetation has expanded into areas once occupied by Pinus palustris as fire has become less frequent or absent in parts of the landscape. If fire was more frequent, the predominant vegetation would shift toward more fire-tolerant southern pines, especially Pinus palustris. The characteristic and dominant trees are capable of living for several centuries, and these forests probably were present in the presettlement landscape as old-growth stands, with canopy dynamics dominated by gap-phase regeneration. Small to medium-sized canopy gaps created by wind are the primary natural disturbance at present, and probably were in the past as well. Fire likely created some small to medium-sized gaps in the past also, and likely caused all canopy gaps to persist longer. However, exposure to occasional fires and hurricanes in the coastal plain may create more frequent and larger canopy disturbances than more inland examples.
Environmental Description: Forests in this alliance can occur on a variety of sites including sandy swamp islands, coastal plain slopes, ridgetops, and other mesic to dry-mesic fire-sheltered areas on acidic to circumneutral soils.
Geographic Range: Examples of this alliance are known from the Atlantic Coastal Plain of Virginia and North Carolina, south and west to the Gulf Coastal Plain of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. One association may range north in the interior to Missouri. It could occur in northern Florida, but none of its component associations have been documented from there. Apparently one association is reported from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and New Jersey, but this needs to be reviewed.
States/Provinces: AL, AR?, FL?, GA, LA?, MO?, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA?
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (1994/1995)|
Confidence Level: Low
Confidence Level Comments:
Concept Lineage: Most associations assigned here are from the old alliance A.238 (7/15), one each from A.234 (1/4) and A.243 (1/7), two from A.239 (2/29), and one unassigned association.
Concept Author(s): M. Pyne, in Faber-Langendoen et al. (2013)
Author of Description: M. Pyne
Version Date: 14Mar2014
- Faber-Langendoen, D., J. Drake, M. Hall, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, L. Sneddon, K. Snow, and J. Teague. 2013-2017b. Screening alliances for induction into the U.S. National Vegetation Classification: Part 1 - Alliance concept review. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.