Woody and herbaceous vegetation were quantitatively sampled in sixteen red spruce (<em>Picea rubens</em>) stands in Highland County, Virginia. Sampled stands occurred at two basic locations 1) > 1200 m on ridges and 2) in swamps along stream valleys. Woody vegetation was similar to that of other spruce forests in the central Appalachians. At undisturbed sites, the herbaceous stratum was also typical of spruce forests. Size class distributions indicate both mature and immature communities are present. Field evidence and the available palynologic data suggest that modern spruce distribution is similar to its distribution before human influence. Red spruce abundance has been greatly affected by Quaternary climatic fluctuations and regional physiography.