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Oak Hickory Forest

Scientific Name: Oak Hickory Forest; State Rank: S1

This is a new community type in Maine, differentiated from White Oak - Red Oak Forests. Photos and maps will come soon!

Community Description: This dry forest type, characteristic of the Central Appalachian Mountains, occurs in small patches or as inclusions within broader expanses of oak-pine forest. It is dominated by a mixture of shag-bark hickory and oaks (white, black, red, or chestnut) over park-like sedge lawn. Sugar maple, white pine, or white ash may be canopy associates, and hop-hornbeam is a characteristic sub-canopy species. Additional species in the subcanopy or tall-shrub layer may include witch hazel, shadbushes, striped maple, and maple-leaved viburnum. Low shrubs can include blueberries, and the herb layer is primarily a lawn of woodland sedge with some other grass and sedge species. Moderately enriched sites may support tick-trefoils, hepatica, and the rare bottlebrush grass. Back to top.

Soil and Site Characteristics: Sites occur on low-elevation, south- or west-facing sideslopes with well-drained loams or sandy loams. Known sites are within 10 miles of the coast. Back to top.

Diagnostics: Moderately open to closed canopy forests are dominated by a mixture of shagbark hickory (at least 30% cover) and oak species. Back to top.

Similar Types: White Oak - Red Oak Forests and Oak - Pine Forests lack shagbark hickory. Back to top.

Conservation, Wildlife and Management Considerations: The few mature sites known in Maine were probably cleared in the past. Sites are small and subject to further fragmentation from development. Community dynamics are not well known, but there are some indications that shagbark hickory and white oak are adapted to disturbance - likely fire - though there is no research on this topic in Maine. Most occurrences of this type are on private lands.

This type offers habitat for a variety of birds, including scarlet tanager and ovenbird. Mature occurrences of this community type offer excellent potential sites for cavity dwellers such as the southern flying squirrel. The rare red-winged sallow moth uses red oak as one of its host plants and may be found in this community. Back to top.

Distribution: Restricted to southern and coastal Maine, characteristic of the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province. Extends south and west from Maine. Landscape Pattern: Small patch (in Maine), generally 20 acres or less. Back to top.

Characteristic Plants: These plants are frequently found in this community type. Those with an asterisk are often diagnostic of this community.

  • Canopy
    • Black oak
    • Red oak*
    • Shagbark hickory*
    • Sugar maple
    • White oak
  • Sapling/Shrub
    • Low-bush blueberry
    • Maple-leaved viburnum*
    • Shadbushes
    • Witch hazel*
  • Herb
    • Asters
    • Canada mayflower
    • Carex (Laxiflorae group)
    • Panic grasses
    • Sarsaparilla
    • Silverrod
    • Whorled loosestrife*
    • Wild oats
    • Woodland sedge*

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Associated Rare Plants

Associated Rare Animals

  • Red-winged sallow
  • Whip-poor-will

Examples on Conservation Lands You Can Visit

There are no documented examples on conservation lands that you can visit associated with this natural community.

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