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A3430 Quercus phellos Piedmont-Cumberland Wet Depression Forest Alliance

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: These are wet depressions in the Piedmont, Cumberland, and Interior Plateau regions of the southeastern United States with Quercus phellos, primarily a coastal plain species, as an indicator and typically dominant canopy component.
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Willow Oak Piedmont-Cumberland Wet Depression Forest Alliance
Colloquial Name: Piedmont-Cumberland Willow Oak Wet Depression Forest
Hierarchy Level: Alliance
Type Concept: This alliance includes vegetation of wet depressions and related habitats in the Piedmont, Cumberland, and Interior Plateau regions of the southeastern United States from Alabama north to Kentucky and Maryland. Examples have Quercus phellos as an indicator and typically dominant to codominant component of the canopy. It is noteworthy as an indicator in these regions as it is primarily a species of the coastal plains. The associated species vary across this range. Additional canopy trees include Liquidambar styraciflua, Quercus alba, Quercus lyrata, Quercus michauxii, Quercus nigra, Quercus shumardii, and Quercus stellata. Some other canopy and subcanopy trees include Acer barbatum, Carya carolinae-septentrionalis, Celtis laevigata, Fraxinus americana, Juglans nigra, Morus rubra, Nyssa biflora, and Ulmus americana. The small understory trees Cercis canadensis, Cornus florida, Cornus foemina, Crataegus viridis, Quercus oglethorpensis, and Sideroxylon lycioides may also occur. Some herbs that are found in component associations include Carex albolutescens, Carex intumescens, Carex joorii, Chasmanthium laxum, Chasmanthium sessiliflorum, Dichanthelium boscii, Dulichium arundinaceum, Glyceria striata, Hymenocallis occidentalis, Podophyllum peltatum, and Zephyranthes atamasca. This alliance occurs in upland depressions and swales in flatwoods that do not receive overbank flooding, including gently sloped upper drainages in flat Piedmont terrain with dense clay hardpan soils that have restricted internal drainage; shallow depressions in ridgetop or plateau-top sandstone of the Cumberland Plateau or on limestones and dolostones in the Southern Ridge and Valley; sloping terrain or shallowly depressed upland flats over gabbro-derived clays in the Piedmont of Georgia and South Carolina; as well as depression swamps found in the Piedmont and in limited areas of the adjacent inner Coastal Plain.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Examples of this group are distinctive for being dominated by Quercus phellos and being found in the Piedmont and Cumberland regions of the southeastern United States. Quercus phellos is primarily a species of the coastal plains.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features: Quercus phellos is primarily a species of the coastal plains, and is characteristic of this alliance, which is found in interior regions. Quercus phellos is typically a dominant to codominant component of the canopy in examples of this alliance.
Classification Comments: No Data Available
Similar NVC Types:
Physiognomy and Structure: Stands of this alliance are dominated by broad-leaved deciduous trees and have sparse to well-developed shrub and herbaceous strata.
Floristics: Examples of this alliance have Quercus phellos as an indicator and typically dominant to codominant component of the canopy. It is noteworthy as an indicator in these interior regions as it is primarily a species of the coastal plains. The associated species vary across the alliance's range. Additional canopy trees include Liquidambar styraciflua, Quercus alba, Quercus lyrata, Quercus michauxii, Quercus nigra, Quercus shumardii, and Quercus stellata. Some other canopy and subcanopy trees include Acer barbatum, Carya carolinae-septentrionalis, Celtis laevigata, Fraxinus americana, Juglans nigra, Morus rubra, Nyssa biflora, and Ulmus americana. The small understory trees Cercis canadensis, Cornus florida, Cornus foemina, Crataegus viridis, Quercus oglethorpensis, and Sideroxylon lycioides may also occur. Vines are abundant and diverse. They may include Berchemia scandens, Bignonia capreolata, Campsis radicans, Cocculus carolinus, Lonicera sempervirens, Matelea carolinensis, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Passiflora lutea, Smilax bona-nox, Smilax glauca, Smilax rotundifolia, Toxicodendron radicans, Trachelospermum difforme, and Vitis rotundifolia. Some herbs that are found in component associations include Carex albolutescens, Carex intumescens, Carex joorii, Chasmanthium laxum, Chasmanthium sessiliflorum, Dichanthelium boscii, Dulichium arundinaceum, Glyceria striata, Hymenocallis occidentalis, Podophyllum peltatum, and Zephyranthes atamasca.
Dynamics: Community dynamics are not well-known. These communities probably exist naturally as uneven-aged, old-growth forests. However, wetness and shallow rooting depth may make them more susceptible to windthrow than most upland forests, and subject to larger canopy gaps. Both extreme wet and extreme dry periods would stress some component species and might cause tree mortality. Floods, if any, have little flow, and flood disturbance is correspondingly low, but the clearing of ground by flowing water is likely important to the establishment of some herbaceous species. In examples on gabbro in Piedmont Georgia, the water table is never far from the surface because of the very subdued topography, and the ground may be saturated for extended periods of time during the growing season. In winter and early spring, large areas of standing water are typically found, helping create the unusual habitat conditions. In summer and fall, as the water table drops, the Iredell soil shrinks and becomes almost pavement-like, even though the water table may be only a foot or two below the soil surface (Clark 1978).
Environmental Description: This vegetation is confined to a variety of upland wet depressions and swales in flatwoods that do not receive overbank flooding, found in the Piedmont, Cumberland, and Interior Plateau regions of the southeastern United States. These environments include upland depressions, including gently sloped upper drainages in flat Piedmont terrain with dense clay hardpan soils that have restricted internal drainage; shallow depressions in ridgetop or plateau-top sandstone of the Cumberland Plateau or on limestones and dolostones in the Southern Ridge and Valley; sloping terrain or shallowly depressed upland flats over gabbro-derived clays in the Piedmont of Georgia and South Carolina; as well as depression swamps found in the Piedmont and in limited areas of the adjacent Inner Coastal Plain.
Geographic Range: This alliance is primarily found in the Piedmont, southern Ridge and Valley/Cumberlands, and Interior Low Plateau of the southeastern United States from Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky south to Georgia and Alabama. One southern Piedmont association is peripheral to the adjacent Atlantic Coastal Plain and northern Piedmont.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: AL, GA, KY, MD, NC, SC, TN, VA
US Forest Service Ecoregions (1994/1995)
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Confidence Level: Low
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Grank: GNR
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Concept Lineage: This alliance contains associations from two old alliances; A.292 (2/21) and A.330 (5/19) [proto-alliance A2052?].
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Synonomy: >< IIA10d. Upland Depression Swamp (Allard 1990)
>< Sweetgum - Willow Oak: 92 (Eyre 1980)
>< Willow Oak - Water Oak - Diamondleaf (Laurel) Oak: 88 (Eyre 1980)
Concept Author(s): M. Pyne, in Faber-Langendoen et al. (2013)
Author of Description: M. Pyne
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 08Jan2014
References:
  • 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.
  • Ambrose, J. 1990a. Georgia's natural communities--A preliminary list. Unpublished document. Georgia Natural Heritage Inventory. 5 pp.
  • Clark, R. C. 1978. Natural landmark site evaluation: Georgia. Monticello Bottomland Woods, Jasper County. Unpublished document.
  • Evans, M. 1991. Kentucky ecological communities. Draft report to the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. 19 pp.
  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.
  • 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.
  • Gemborys, S. R., and E. J. Hodgkins. 1971. Forests of small stream bottoms in the coastal plain of southwestern Alabama. Ecology 52:70-84.
  • Glascock, S., and S. Ware. 1979. Forests of small stream bottoms in the peninsula of Virginia. Virginia Journal of Science 30:17-21.
  • Golden, M. S. 1979. Forest vegetation of the lower Alabama Piedmont. Ecology 60:770-782.
  • Klimas, C. V. 1988b. Forest vegetation of the leveed floodplain of the lower Mississippi River. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experimental Station, Lower Mississippi River Environmental Program. Report No. 11. Vicksburg, MS. 281 pp.
  • Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.