Prairie-Relict Communities of a Piedmont Monadnock


Robert D. Tompkins

Additional Authors:


Sept 2013


A floristic survey of Crowders Mountain State Park, located in Gaston and Cleveland Counties in North Carolina, was conducted from 2010–2011 to document prairie-relict species. In addition, 1-m2 quadrats (n ¼ 200) were sampled from four remnant power line rights-ofway/ roadside prairie communities in the park to assess community structure. Cover and frequency values were assessed for species within the quadrats and species were also placed into guild groupings. A total of 143 prairie-relict species from 37 plant families were identified for the entire park, 69 (48%) of which were also found in the sampled quadrats. Eighty-three (58%) species were previously undocumented for the park. Summer forbs represented the largest guild at 66 (46%) with several rare and uncommon species for North Carolina, including the North Carolina Rare Symphyotrichum georgianum (Georgia aster) and Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower). The communities had a combined Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) of 48.8 and a mean C-value of 4.2. Evidence from this study further suggests that prior to fire suppression prairie/ savanna communities were likely once more prevalent in what is now Crowders Mountain State Park.