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Coastal Plain / Piedmont Small-Stream Floodplain Forest (CEGLA004418)

This plant community is part of a broader group of Coastal Plain and Piedmont Bottomland Forests occurring along floodplains throughout our region. Expect to find this community adjacent to streams in areas with relatively rich soil which may be silty or sandy alluvium or heavier clay-dominated soils. Many of our stream valley parks locally contain examples of this plant community. Typical canopy species are Tuliptree along with Sweetgum as well as Sycamore (especially immediately adjacent to streams). American Elm and Green Ash are now less common because of introduced pests and disease (Dutch Elm Disease and Emerald Ash Borer, respectively). Note too that even mesic oak species like Northern Red Oak and White Oak commonly grade down into these forests.  In the understory expect to see more Ironwood, young Green Ash, and Spicebush. Herbaceous layers can be dense, typically with grasses like Sweet Woodreed Grass, White Cutgrass, various sedges, and wetland ferns. 

In the garden, you could use this list to create forest buffer edges (depending on how close and far down the nearest stream is – as you get upslope you will see a transition to other plant communities). These species could be used in a more targeted fashion to address modest runoff from storm water in shady areas of your yard. 


For more help with plant selection, you can return to our Compendium here.

Indicator Species: Liriodendron tulipifera, Lindera benzoin, Liquidambar styraciflua, Arisaema triphyllum

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.

Polystichum acrostichoides                 Carpinus caroliniana                           Liriodendron tulipifera

Arisaema triphyllum                             Cornus florida                                     Platanus occidentalis

Acer rubrum                                        Fraxinus pennsylvanica                       Ulmus americana

Asimina triloba                                     Ilex opaca                                           Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Betula nigra                                         Lindera benzoin

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.

Onoclea sensibilis                               Carex swanii                                        lex verticillata

Maianthemum racemosum                 Cinna arundinacea                              Prunus serotina

Solidago rugosa                                  Dichanthelium clandestinum               Quercus alba

Symphyotrichum lateriflorum               Leersia virginica                                  Quercus rubra

Carex intumescens                             Euonymus americanus                        Sambucus canadensis

Carex laxiculmis


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                                Salvia lyrata                                         Carya cordiformis

Ageratina altissima                              Saururus cernuus                                Carya tomentosa

Chelone glabra                                    Scutellaria integrifolia                          Cercis canadensis

Desmodium paniculatum                     Sisyrinchium angustifolium                 Cornus amomum

Desmodium perplexum                       Solidago caesia                                   Corylus americana

Dioscorea villosa                                 Verbesina alternifolia                           Juniperus virginiana

Elephantopus carolinianus                  Viola sororia                                        Nyssa sylvatica

Eurybia divaricata                                Brachyelytrum erectum                       Quercus michauxii

Eutrochium fistulosum                         Carex blanda                                       Quercus palustris

Packera aurea                                     Carex crinita                                        Quercus phellos

Polygonatum biflorum                         Carex lurida                                         Sassafras albidum

Potentilla simplex                                Elymus virginicus                                 Viburnum dentatum

Rudbeckia laciniata                             Juncus effusus                                    Viburnum prunifolium

                                                            Luzula echinata

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