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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

Eastern White Pine - Hardwood Forests

Mixed forests characterized by co-dominance of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and hardwoods constitute this ecological group. Similar forests occur from the western Great Lakes to the northeastern United States and south to the southern Appalachian Mountains . In pure stands white pine is a fast-growing, early successional invader of disturbed habitats, but it is long-lived, shade-tolerant and apparently persistent in more successionally stable mixed forests. Communities in this group occur throughout the Virginia mountains, but are especially prevalent on low shale knobs of the west-central Ridge and Valley region. These forests become much more local eastward in the Piedmont. On submesic sites, co-dominant hardwoods include white oak (Quercus alba), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), hickories (Carya spp.), tulip-tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). On more exposed, subxeric sites, chestnut oak (Quercus montana, = Quercus prinus) and scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) are common co-dominants, and ericaceous shrubs such as mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) prevail in the lower layers.

The ecological dynamics of this group are poorly understood. At some sites, it appears that eastern white pine has increased greatly in secondary succession following logging disturbances or burning, while at others this tree has assumed increasing dominance of late-successional, fire-suppressed stands. Because of their thin bark, saplings and young trees of white pine have a very low resistance to fire, but larger and older trees are moderately resistant.

References: Coulling and Rawinski (1999), Fleming (2002a), Fleming and Coulling (2001), Fleming and Moorhead (2000), Fleming and Patterson (2004), Fleming and Weber (2003).

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Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and white oak (Quercus alba) in a mixed Piedmont Forest. Fluvanna County. Photo: © Gary P. Fleming.

Virginia stands of this group have not yet been intensively sampled , but are currently represented by 23 plot samples from the mountains and Piedmont (map). In particular, the extensive areas of eastern white pine - hardwood vegetation in the west-central Virginia Ridge and Valley shale country are under-represented by plot data, and stands on the southern Blue Ridge have not yet been inventoried. Click on any highlighted CEGL code below to view the global USNVC description provided by NatureServe Explorer.
  • Pinus strobus - Quercus alba - Quercus (coccinea , montana) / Vaccinium stamineum Forest
    Central Appalachian / Piedmont White Pine - Oak Forest
    USNVC: = CEGL008539
    Global/State Ranks: G4/S4

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