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Spruce-Fir Forest Plant Community

Last updated about 2 years ago

Characteristic plants of the Southern Appalachian Spruce-Fir Forest community.

Distinguishing characteristics: Dominated by red spruce and/or Fraser fir
Occurrence: Restricted to elevations above 4500 ft in Southern Appalachians
Conservation aspects: Currently one of the rarest and most threatened communities in the Southern Appalachians. Threatened by invasive Balsam woolly adelgid (kills mature Fraser firs), air pollution and acid rain.

References:
T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

Image location:
Mount Mitchell State Park, North Carolina, elevation 6,684 ft

  • 34246_88_88 Plantae > Sapindaceae

    Acer pensylvanicum

    Striped Maple

    occasional to locally abundant deciduous tree, leaves turn butter-yellow in fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 57278_88_88 Plantae > Sapindaceae

    Acer spicatum

    Mountain Maple

    occasional to locally abundant deciduous tree

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 70857_88_88 Plantae > Asteraceae

    Ageratina altissima

    White Snakeroot

    occasional to locally abundant herb, flowering in late summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 04014_88_88 Plantae > Rosaceae

    Amelanchier laevis

    Allegheny Serviceberry

    occasional to locally abundant spring-flowering tree

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 79209_88_88 Plantae > Woodsiaceae

    Athyrium filix-femina var. asplenioides

    Southern Ladyfern

    occasional to locally abundant ground cover, common in intact forest

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 96978_88_88 Plantae > Betulaceae

    Betula alleghaniensis

    Yellow Birch

    occasional to locally abundant deciduous tree

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 36468_88_88 Plantae > Betulaceae

    Betula papyrifera var. cordifolia

    Heartleaf Paper Birch

    rare deciduous tree, listed endangered in Tennessee

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
    Tennessee Natural Heritage Program: Rare Plant List 2008
  • 75236_88_88 Plantae

    Bryophyta

    Mosses

    more than 200 species of mosses and liverworts have been identified in spruce-fir forests, growing on soil, rocks, tree trunks, fallen logs in shaded forests with moist soils

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 07427_88_88 Plantae > Cyperaceae

    Carex pensylvanica

    Pennsylvania Sedge

    occasional to locally abundant ground cover

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 12508_88_88 Plantae > Plantaginaceae

    Chelone lyonii

    Pink Turtlehead

    occasional to locally abundant summer-flowering herb

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 01401_88_88 Plantae > Liliaceae

    Clintonia borealis

    Bluebead

    occasional to locally abundant spring flower, dark blue-black fruits in summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 35920_88_88 Plantae > Dryopteridaceae

    Dryopteris campyloptera

    Mountain Woodfern

    occasional to locally abundant ground cover, common in intact forest

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 24881_88_88 Plantae > Asteraceae

    Eurybia chlorolepis

    Mountain Wood-aster

    occasional to locally abundant herb, flowers in late summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 51776_88_88 Plantae > Aquifoliaceae

    Ilex montana

    Mountain Holly

    occasional to locally abundant shrub, conspicuous reddish fruit in late summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 27604_88_88

    Lichens

    more than 225 species of lichens have been identified in spruce-fir forests, often covering tree trunks

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 93925_88_88 Plantae > Asparagaceae

    Maianthemum canadense

    Canada Mayflower

    occasional to locally abundant spring-flowering herb, forms dense mats of short-stemmed plants, tiny white flowers in spring, translucent red berries in late summer

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 08299_88_88 Plantae > Ericaceae

    Menziesia pilosa

    Minniebush

    occasional to locally abundant shrub

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 99128_88_88 Plantae > Asteraceae

    Oclemena acuminata

    Whorled Aster

    occasional to locally abundant herb, flowers in late summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 56876_88_88 Plantae > Oxalidaceae

    Oxalis montana

    Mountain Woodsorrel

    occasional to locally abundant spring flower, forms prostrate mats on cool, moist soils

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 36321_88_88 Plantae > Pinaceae

    Picea rubens

    Red Spruce

    abundant in this community, co-dominant with Fraser fir, most abundant at lower elevations and more sheltered sites, has pendant cones and prickly leaves

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 36488_88_88 Plantae > Rosaceae

    Prunus pensylvanica

    Pin Cherry

    occasional to locally abundant deciduous spring-flowering tree, brightly colored fruits in summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 44921_88_88 Plantae > Ericaceae

    Rhododendron catawbiense

    Catawba Rhododendron

    occasional to locally abundant evergreen shrub, pink/purple flowers in late spring

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 08937_88_88 Plantae > Ericaceae

    Rhododendron vaseyi

    Pink-shell Azalea

    rare endemic spring-flowering shrub, intolerant of warm and dry climates

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 44726_88_88 Plantae > Grossulariaceae

    Ribes rotundifolium

    Appalachian Gooseberry

    occasional to locally abundant shrub in disturbed areas

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 01878_88_88 Plantae > Rosaceae

    Rubus allegheniensis

    Allegheny Blackberry

    occasional to locally abundant shrub in open areas, can form dense thickets that suppress herbaceous plants and slow tree regeneration, white flowers in spring and edible dark blue-black fruits in summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 03669_88_88 Plantae > Rosaceae

    Rubus canadensis

    Canadian Blackberry

    occasional to locally abundant shrub in open areas, can form dense thickets that suppress herbaceous plants and slow tree regeneration, white flowers in spring and edible dark blue-black fruits in summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 37325_88_88 Plantae > Asteraceae

    Rugelia nudicaulis

    Rugel's Ragwort

    rare endemic flowering herb, intolerant of warm and dry climates, federal species of concern listed endangered in Tennessee and threatened in North Carolina

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Endangered Species Program
  • 26644_88_88 Plantae > Adoxaceae

    Sambucus racemosa

    Red-berried Elder

    occasional to locally abundant shrub in disturbed areas, white flowers in spring and brightly colored fruits in summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 46384_88_88 Plantae > Asteraceae

    Solidago glomerata

    Skunk Goldenrod

    occasional to locally abundant herb, flowering late summer to fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 51206_88_88 Plantae > Rosaceae

    Sorbus americana

    American Rowan

    occasional to locally abundant deciduous spring-flowering tree, brightly colored fruits in late summer and fall

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 48439_88_88 Plantae > Melanthiaceae

    Trillium undulatum

    Painted Trillium

    occasional to locally abundant spring flower

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 28405_88_88 Plantae > Ericaceae

    Vaccinium erythrocarpum

    Southern Mountain Cranberry

    occasional to locally abundant shrub

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 58353_88_88 Plantae > Melanthiaceae

    Veratrum viride

    American False Hellebore

    occasional to locally abundant summer-flowering herb

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • 90440_88_88 Plantae > Adoxaceae

    Viburnum lantanoides

    Alderleaf Viburnum

    occasional to locally abundant shrub in disturbed areas

    References:
    T. P. Spira: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, 1st edition, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.