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The Natural Communities of Virginia
Classification of Ecological Community Groups

Second Approximation (Version 2.7)
Information current as of February, 2016

Table of Contents Table of Contents

Northern White-Cedar Slope Forests

Northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is a dominant or co-dominant tree in these mixed, largely coniferous forests. This is a rare natural community group known from Canada, the Great Lakes region, northern New England, New York, and discontinuously from Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In Virginia, stands occur in small, isolated patches in the Ridge and Valley province. Habitats are on steep, rocky, mesic to submesic slopes that are undercut by streams and have west to north aspects. Underlying bedrock is usually limestone or dolomite, but one Virginia site is underlain by calcareous Silurian sandstone. Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and/or eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) are the most frequent (often co-dominant) tree associates, with scattered hardwoods also present. Understory and herbaceous layers are variable but generally contain a number of typical calciphiles such as ebony sedge (Carex eburnea), American barberry (Berberis canadensis), leatherwood (Dirca palustris), northern bedstraw (Galium boreale), and sharp-lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba).

References: Fleming (1999), Fleming and Coulling (2001).

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Forest of northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) on a steep, limestone slope above the Maury River in Rockbridge County. Photo Tom Rawinski

The single classified type is supported by only five plot samples (map), but appears consistent with descriptions of similar vegetation in adjacent Tennessee. Although stands of this group are extremely rare in Virginia, several known examples have not yet been plot-sampled. Click on any highlighted CEGL code below to view the global USNVC description provided by NatureServe Explorer.

  • Thuja occidentalis - Pinus strobus - Tsuga canadensis / Carex eburnea Forest
    Northern White-Cedar Slope Forest
    USNVC: = CEGL008426
    Global/State Ranks: G1G2/S1

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