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Northern Coastal Plain / Piedmont Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (CEGL006075)

One of our most common forest communities in our region. Typified by dominance of American Beech and Tuliptree in the canopy interspersed with oaks and hickories. Understory layer is frequently dominated by Ironwood, American Holly, and Dogwood though the latter is less common because of Anthracnose. For the herbaceous layer, expect plenty of areas of open leaf litter between somewhat sparse herbaceous stands especially in areas where Beech is most dominant. Topography can vary from slopes and ravines to flatter areas. Locally, deer overabundance may be suppressing understory shrubs like Euonymus americanus and Viburnum acerifolium and favoring the spread of deer-resistant species like Pawpaw and Spicebush. 


In a garden context, think about this list as a good place to start for recreating a buffer at the edge of your property in medium-moisture settings, or replanting under existing tuliptree canopy. Perhaps you want to enjoy a nice evergreen Christmas Fern glade – in which case integrating some of these other canopy, understory, and herbaceous plants would help you towards a more natural arrangement. 

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

Indicator Species: Fagus grandifolia, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Polystichum acrostichoides, Ilex opaca

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                  Carya tomentosa                     Nyssa sylvatica

Acer rubrum                                         Cornus florida                           Quercus alba

Asimina triloba                                     Ilex opaca                                 Quercus rubra

Carpinus caroliniana                            Liriodendron tulipifera               Quercus velutina

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.

Maianthemum racemosum                    Sassafras albidum

Polygonatum biflorum                            Viburnum acerifolium

Euonymus americanus                          Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Prunus serotina                            


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.


Quercus montana

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                                 Carex rosea                             Hydrangea arborescens

Arisaema triphyllum                              Carex swanii                            Ilex verticillata

Eurybia divaricata                                 Luzula echinata                       Juniperus virginiana

Houstonia purpurea                              Carya cordiformis                     Lindera benzoin

Solidago caesia                                    Carya ovalis                             Quercus phellos

Symphyotrichum lateriflorum                Cercis canadensis                   Rhododendron periclymenoides

Viola sororia                                         Chionanthus virginicus             Viburnum dentatum

Brachyelytrum erectum                        Diospyros virginiana                 Viburnum prunifolium

Carex laxiculmis                                   Hamamelis virginiana

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