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).
Click on the images below to open a larger image in a separate window.
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