Forests of the Central and Southern Appalachians and Eastern Virginia Having Beech as a Major Component


Harold S. Adams

Additional Authors:

Steven L. Stephenson, Stewart Ware, and Martin Schnittler


September – 2003


Southern Appalachian, Virginia, Beech

Quantitative data on composition and structure of the tree stratum were collected from fifty forest communities in eastern, western, and southwestern Virginia, eastern West Virginia and the western part of the Great Smoky Mountains having American beech (Fagus grandifolia) as a major [IV > 17.5 (of 100)] component. Forty-eight different species of trees were tallied in these communities. Basal area of trees (m2/ ha) ranged from 16.3 to 58.2, whereas density of trees (N/ha) ranged from 198 to 1,820. Average density was lowest in eastern Virginia (369) and highest in western Virginia (680). Beech was the leading dominant in most of the communities sampled in all regions except for western Virginia, but its most important canopy associates varied among regions. Results of DECORANA ordination separated the fifty communities along the regional lines studied and would seem to parallel the distributional pattern of the three “races” sometimes recognized for beech. The beech forests considered in the present study are compared with similar beech-rich forests of central Europe.