Invalid Unit Specified
Alliance Detail Report: A3236
Acer barbatum - Quercus shumardii - Fraxinus americana Coastal Plain Forest Alliance

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
These are mesic calcareous forests of the coastal plains. Canopies are diverse and may contain Acer barbatum, Aesculus glabra, Carya myristiciformis, Fraxinus americana, Juglans nigra, Quercus muehlenbergii, Quercus shumardii, Tilia americana var. caroliniana, and Ulmus rubra.
Collapse All::Expand All
Translated Name:Southern Sugar Maple - Shumard Oak - White Ash Coastal Plain Forest Alliance
Colloquial Name:Coastal Plain Mesic Southern Sugar Maple - Oak Forest
This alliance includes mesic calcareous forests of the coastal plains of the southeastern United States. Canopies are diverse and may contain Acer barbatum, Aesculus glabra, Carya myristiciformis, Fraxinus americana, Juglans nigra, Quercus muehlenbergii, Quercus shumardii, Tilia americana var. caroliniana, Ulmus rubra, and other calciphilic deciduous trees. The forests of this alliance occur on moist flats, lower slopes, or bluffs over calcareous substrates. Examples of areas from which these forests are known include limestones of the East Gulf Coastal Plain, the Black Belt (Selma Chalk) of the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain, and related areas in other parts of the southeastern coastal plains, including the Red Hills of Alabama. It is probably also found on terraces along the Broad River, in the Georgia Piedmont, and on low to midslopes along the Savannah River, reportedly on circumneutral (high magnesium) soils in the Outer Coastal Plain.
The combination of these mesic/calciphilic species (Acer barbatum, Quercus shumardii, Fraxinus americana) in the coastal plains should be diagnostic, distinguishing them from similar forests in the interior provinces.
Acer barbatum, Quercus shumardii, and Fraxinus americana are diagnostic, and they serve to distinguish these forests from similar ones in the interior provinces.
No Data Available
Synonomy: ? Mesic Calcareous Bluff (Morris et al. 1993)
? Upland Hardwood Forest (FNAI 1992a)

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Faber-Langendoen et al. 2017b
  • FNAI 1992a
  • FNAI 1992b
  • Morris et al. 1993
  • Nelson 1986
  • Smith 1996a
States/Provinces:AL, FL, GA, LA?, MS, SC
Range:Vegetation of this alliance is found in the coastal plains of the southeastern United States from South Carolina south to Florida and west to Mississippi.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name:
Province Code:   Occurrence Status:
Section Name:
Section Code:     Occurrence Status:
These are closed-canopy forests with dense and diverse shrub and herbaceous strata.
These forests are dominated by variable mixtures of calciphilic deciduous trees, including Acer barbatum, Aesculus glabra, Carya carolinae-septentrionalis, Carya laciniosa, Carya myristiciformis, Celtis laevigata, Fraxinus americana, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Gleditsia triacanthos, Juglans nigra, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus shumardii, Quercus muehlenbergii, Tilia americana var. caroliniana, Ulmus alata, Ulmus americana, and Ulmus rubra. The subcanopy stratum may include Acer rubrum, Asimina triloba, Carpinus caroliniana, Cercis canadensis, Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana, Morus rubra, and Ostrya virginiana. Shrubs and woody vines may include Aesculus pavia var. pavia, Arundinaria gigantea, Berchemia scandens, Bignonia capreolata, Callicarpa americana, Cocculus carolinus, Cornus drummondii, Crataegus calpodendron, Crataegus marshallii, Euonymus americanus, Euonymus atropurpureus, Frangula caroliniana, Hydrangea quercifolia, Ilex decidua, Menispermum canadense, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Ptelea trifoliata, Sideroxylon lycioides, Smilax bona-nox, Symphoricarpos orbiculatus, Toxicodendron radicans, Viburnum rufidulum, and Vitis aestivalis. Herbaceous species may include Allium canadense, Anemone virginiana, Arisaema dracontium, Arisaema triphyllum ssp. quinatum, Aristolochia serpentaria, Botrychium virginianum, Campanulastrum americanum, Cardamine concatenata, Carex albicans (= Carex artitecta), Carex blanda, Carex cephalophora, Carex cherokeensis, Carex gracilescens, Carex jamesii, Carex laxiflora var. serrulata, Carex muehlenbergii, Carex oxylepis, Carex willdenowii, Chasmanthium latifolium, Cynoglossum virginianum, Dasistoma macrophylla, Desmodium nudiflorum, Desmodium pauciflorum, Dichanthelium boscii, Dioscorea quaternata, Euphorbia commutata, Frasera caroliniensis, Lilium michauxii, Luzula echinata, Monotropa hypopithys, Oxalis violacea, Pachysandra procumbens, Panax quinquefolius, Penstemon tubiflorus, Phlox divaricata, Phryma leptostachya, Pleopeltis polypodioides ssp. michauxiana, Podophyllum peltatum, Polygonatum biflorum, Prenanthes altissima, Ruellia strepens, Sanguinaria canadensis, Sanicula odorata, Scrophularia marilandica, Silene stellata, Smilax herbacea, Smallanthus uvedalius, Spigelia marilandica, Thalictrum thalictroides, Thelypteris kunthii, Trillium recurvatum, Viola affinis, and Viola walteri. Drier examples of this alliance in the Florida Panhandle contain many species of the Southeastern Coastal Plain, including the palms Rhapidophyllum hystrix and Sabal minor. Juglans nigra may not be present in South Carolina occurrences.
This vegetation is known from a variety of mesic, base-rich coastal plain habitats, including moist, north-facing, calcareous bluffs, and calcareous or other base-rich or circumneutral soils, including soils derived from coquina or other limestone outcrops or more recent shell deposits. Examples are known from limestones of the East Gulf Coastal Plain of the Florida Panhandle and Alabama Red Hills, and from the Black Belt (Selma Chalk) of the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain of east-central Mississippi and central Alabama. This vegetation probably also occurs on terraces along the Broad River, in the Georgia Piedmont, and on low to midslopes along the Savannah River, reportedly on circumneutral (high magnesium) soils in the Outer Coastal Plain.
These are generally mesic forests in relatively fire-sheltered environments. Stands are vulnerable to the effects of canopy removal and subsequent soil erosion. No examples are known to be protected, and some are highly threatened by timber removal and development. Other threats include windthrow, microclimate modification from intensive silvicultural practices on adjacent uplands, herbicide use, and vegetation damage by feral hogs.
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.
  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 1992a. Natural communities. Unpublished document. The Nature Conservancy, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee. 6 pp.
  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 1992b. Natural community classification. Unpublished document. The Nature Conservancy, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee. 16 pp.
  • Morris, M. W., C. T. Bryson, and R. C. Warren. 1993. Rare vascular plants and associate plant communities from the Sand Creek Chalk Bluffs, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. Castanea 58:250-259.
  • 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.
  • 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.

USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

Date Accessed:

To cite a description:
Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Alliance level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of the Interior (USDI)
  • Forest Service (FS) - Chair
  • National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVY)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Non U.S. Government
  • NatureServe (NS)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. []

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber-
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (
We have incorporated significant descriptive information previously compiled by Alan Weakley.