Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Shining Fetterbush - Inkberry - Swamp Titi Shrub Peatland Division
Colloquial Name: Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Pocosin
Hierarchy Level: Division
Type Concept: The vegetation of this wetland division 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 division 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 division, 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 division 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:
Classification Comments: No Data Available
Similar NVC Types:
D029 North American Bog & Fen, note:
D062 Southeastern North American Flooded & Swamp Forest, note: is tree-dominated.
D322 Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland, note: rarely has evergreen shrubs.
Physiognomy and Structure: The vegetation included in this division 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 division 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: No Data Available
Environmental Description: Vegetation of this division 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 division 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 division 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)|
Confidence Level: High
Confidence Level Comments:
Concept Lineage: D324 split from D029
Concept Author(s): D. Faber-Langendoen, in Faber-Langendoen et al. (2015)
Author of Description: M. Pyne, C.W. Nordman and D. Faber-Langendoen
Version Date: 03Dec2015
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- 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.
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- 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.