Most common in the Piedmont and Fall Line in our region. Expect to see dominant White Oak canopy, potentially with other oaks like Northern Red Oak, and upland hickory species like Pignut or Mockernut, and potentially dense patches of seedlings thereof after mast years. Flowering Dogwood should be present in the understory, but deer browse and exclusion from Anthracnose may have thinned these stands. Expect an open-structured herbaceous layer with plenty of exposed leaf-litter between stands. The topography is that of various slopes and hilltops (transitioning to other communities downslope into stream valleys or floodplains). Because of fire-exclusion for many decades, fire-intolerant (and somewhat more deer-resistant) species like American Beech or American Holly may be increasingly present in the understory, representing succession towards a different plant community as conditions change.
In a garden context, think about these species as good options for buffering dry forest edges, or reestablishing a more natural context around an existing specimen white or red oak, or hickory in a well-drained space. For more help with plant selection, you can return to our Compendium here.
Indicator Species: Quercus alba (White Oak), Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood), Vaccinium stamineum (Deerberry), Quercus rubra (Northern Red Oak), Hylodesmum nudiflorum (Naked Ticktrefoil), and Carya tomentosa (Mockernut Hickory)
High constancy and high cover.
These species are both common in this community and because of their size and spread or frequency with which they pop up, they make up the bulk of the plants on site.
Acer rubrum Cornus florida Quercus rubra
Carpinus caroliniana Liriodendron tulipifera Quercus velutina
Carya ovalis Nyssa sylvatica Viburnum acerifolium
Carya tomentosa Quercus alba Parthenocissus quinquefolia
High constancy, but low cover.
These species occur frequently but may only pop up here and there across the site. Another good set of species to get on site once you’ve covered the fundamental components above, but don’t go overboard.
Polystichum acrostichoides Danthonia spicata Prunus serotina
Maianthemum racemosum Diospyros virginiana Rhododendron periclymenoides
Polygonatum biflorum Euonymus americanus Sassafras albidum
Solidago caesia Juniperus virginiana Viburnum prunifolium
Low constancy, but high cover.
These species pop up less frequently but when they do, they tend to be relatively major components of the landscape either because of their size (in the case of trees and large shrubs), because they form large stands, or because they do well exploiting a certain niche on site.
Low constancy and low cover.
These species are less common and tend to form smaller stands or be fewer individuals scattered around a site.
Actaea racemosa Potentilla canadensis Carya cordiformis
Ageratina altissima Potentilla simplex Celtis occidentalis
Antennaria plantaginifolia Symphyotrichum lateriflorum Cercis canadensis
Cunila origanoides Symphyotrichum undulatum Chionanthus virginicus
Desmodium paniculatum Viola sororia Ilex opaca
Eurybia divaricata Brachyelytrum erectum Lindera benzoin
Geum virginianum Carex laxiculmis Pinus virginiana
Geranium maculatum Carex rosea Rosa carolina
Houstonia purpurea Asimina triloba Viburnum dentatum