Hidden Valley is a local segment of the Valley of the Jackson River, a bold Virginia stream that for most of its course follows the strike of the folded Appalachians, then curves east across the ranges to become the James at Clifton Forge. Although scenic in a conventional sense, the Valley is a degraded landscape. Part of the George Washington National Forest, the U S Forest Service, in characteristic mismanagement, has prevented the Valley from reverting to the rich alluvial ecosystem that is so rare on public lands. Instead it has maintained much of it as hay fields, encouraged the invasion of alien species and even allowed its desecration by a commercial bed and breakfast all land type uses already common on adjacent private lands.
The Valley is flanked on the northwest by Back Creek Mountain, which rises to 3708 feet (1141 m) asl and much smaller Little Mountain, while Cobbler and Warwick Mountains frame it on the southeast. Elevations near the River range between 1700 and 1800 feet (519 and 550 m) asl.
The oldest rocks in the area are Upper Silurian and Lower Devonian limestones, sandstones and shales. Somewhat younger is the Millboro Shale, also of Devonian age (Rader and Evans, 1993). For our purposes the landforms may be divided into four types:
- Mountain slopes dominated by colluvial processes
- Incised tributary stream valleys under the influence of both colluvial and alluvial processes
- Gently-sloping terraces with old surfaces dominated by acid leaching modified by upwelling ground water
- Major flood plains and low terraces along the Jackson River which are dominated by alluvial processes
Each of these land forms has its characteristic floras and a number of these are
confined to specific landforms.
Quite generally deep-seated ground water and large streams fed by this ground water have the highest pH and nutrient values and these are expressed in the rich floras of the flood plains and colluvial slopes where these waters find ready egress. Quite different conditions prevail on the high, relatively undissected terraces which have prevailingly leached and acid soils but which in the spring also experience limited groundwater upwelling.
The Virginia Natural Heritage Program (Fleming, 1999) has established several test plots on rich limestone colluvial slopes of the River bluffs near the right (northwest) bank of the Jackson River. Reported on are dry, dry-mesic and rich cove/ mesic slope forests. Here we report on inventories of some of these as well as other types. An unfortunate feature of some of these forest types is the presence of dense populations of alien species.
Jackson River Flood Plain / Upland Forest Ecotone
Source Walk: 5-3-00
Beginning about 10:30 A M on 5-3-00, under almost clear skies and warm temperatures, we traversed upstream along the right ( northwest) bank of the Jackson River. Our traverse extended from the bridge area for perhaps a mile (1.6 km) to where the River impinges on the base of Little Mountain. Much of the traverse passed through the ecotone of the flood plain and the upland forest. Species and terrain features are discussed here in the order in which they were encountered.
We were immediately struck by the overwhelming abundance of the alien Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) and the common occurrence of Black Walnut. The sighting of Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) and the calls of Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) and Spring Peepers (Hyla crucifer) were soon joined by the song of the American Toad (Bufo americanus). Besides Black Walnut other common species were Northern Red and Black Oaks and the alien shrub Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata). These were soon followed by our sighting a Blue gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) and the calls of the Rufus-sided Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) and White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus), then by the appearance of Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis), a lover of rich soils. Joining it was Black Cherry of the usual poor form, Black Haw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) in full bloom and American Hazelnut (Corylus americana).
We now arrived at a small springbrook which crossed the trail and from which a water sample was collected. While the determination was somewhat uncertain, a pH value of approximately 6 was obtained for this water. Not far beyond the springbrook we encountered a small outcrop of black fissile shale, likely Millboro. Also seen here were a Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), the alien plant Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), an unidentified Wild Rye (Elymus sp) and possible Oswego Tea (Monarda didyma).
The next rock seen was an outcrop of recrystallized chert, followed by one of sandstone. Decorating the site was Small-flowered Phacelia (Phacelia dubia) in bloom and nearby, Shagbark Hickory. On the adjacent River bank was a large Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) and small American Elm, while the trail-side bore the aliens Garlic Mustard (Alliaria officinalis), Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) and Self-heal ( Prunella vulgaris) and the forested slope, Carex laxiflora.
We soon came to a conspicuous terrain feature in the form of a large chert ledge which eventually formed a 20 foot (6 m) high overhang. Here were the alien bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus, Starry Campion (Silene stellata ), Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) in full bloom, a little Catnip (Nepeta cataria), Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin), Carex oligocarpa and more American Elm. Conspicuous in the fine dust beneath the overhang were numerous pits of antlions (Myrmeleontidae). Following next were Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) and on chert, Short-leaved Bluegrass (Poa cuspidata) and Maple-leaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium). Here also, as along our route in general, we had been seeing abundant blooming Striped Violet (Viola striata) and less frequent Downy Wood Violet (Viola sororia). Also seen here were Tall Coneflower (Rudbecia laciniata), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) and Common Greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia). An additional feature of interest at the rock overhang, at a height of about eight feet, was an accumulation of leaves and other debris that may have been a sign of the Eastern Wood rat (Neotoma floridana ).
Next noted were May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum), Prickly Gooseberry (Ribes cynosbati), Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans) and what, from partly unfolded leaves, appeared to be seedlings of Black Maple (Acer nigrum), which hinted at the presence of carbonate in the vicinity. These were followed by Nodding Fescue (Festuca obtusa), a Red-spotted Purple Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), a Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), Indian Turnip (Arisaema triphyllum) and, on a rich slope, blooming Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) and Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).
Continuing, we saw Variable Panic Grass (Panicum commutatum), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) and, on the open River bank, the alien Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) in bloom. On the adjacent slope were Muscletree (Carpinus caroliniana) and a shaggy pignut, likely Carya ovalis.
Here, as quite generally, the River bank was heavily overgrown by Multiflora Rose, but was also populated by Black Walnut and Bitternut Hickory, and also quite generally by Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) in bloom. Also noted were the calls of Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) and Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea).
The mountain slope some distance above the trail bore scattered quite large White Pine, and the trailside, Wild stonecrop (Sedum ternatum), Boott's Goldenrod (Solidago boottii ) and Creeping Five-leaf (Potentilla simplex). Additional species seen here were the wood rush Luzula multiflora, Great Chickweed (Stellaria pubera), Canada Brome Grass (Bromus pubescens) and a soaring Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura).
A little farther on we came upon a chert outcrop that bore an unusual community for this part of the traverse, namely the acidiphiles Upland Low Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum) and Rattlesnake Weed (Hieracium venosum). Following there were saplings of Sassafras, the sedge Carex communis, Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta), Arrow-leaf Aster (Aster sagittifolius) and, on sandstone, a lichen of the genus Sticta.
On the adjacent stream bank there was Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ) and on the nearby slope, a large Basswood (Tilia sp), Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) and Early Meadowrue (Thalictrum dioicum).
Near another ledge of sandstone we came upon an extended bed of Large-flowered Trillium and a little Wild Hydrangea and were saluted by numerous calls of the Scarlet Tanager. Then in continued revelation of soil fertility, we saw Hispid Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidis), a small patch of the calciphile Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) already forming seeds, more of the bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus, Canada Bluegrass (Poa compressa) and either Sugar or Black Maple.
These were soon followed by our first American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), its bright flashes of plumage and song emanating from characteristically heavy cover, here provided by Multiflora Rose of the River bank.
Continuing our progress through this rich habitat, we came upon Broadleaf Goldenrod ( Solidago flexicaulis), Northern Red Oak and Sugar Maple and heard again numerous calls of the Scarlet Tanager.
We now came to where the River made a sharp bend to the right, while the trail retained its proximity to the edge of the terrace. On the bordering upland we saw Ebony Spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron ) and on the terrace Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus) and both Dotted Thorn (Crataegus punctata) and Large-seeded Thorn (C. macrosperma). Also seen here, as on earlier occasions along the traverse, was an unidentified Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza sp).
A soil sample ( no 4) was taken here from a 2 3 inch (5 7.6 cm) depth. This sample was surprisingly acidic, with an initial pH of 4.7 and 15 hours later still only 5.0. It may be that acid leaching is active on this terrace, unless overcome by alluvial processes.
As we crossed the terrace here we heard American Toads singing with increasing volume ahead .Then, approaching the foot of the mountain slope again, we explored the mouth of a small shallow ravine, which was dominated by what, from its unfolding leaves, appeared to be a single large Black Maple with numerous seedlings of the same. In association with the Maple were Black Walnut of canopy size, a sapling of Tuliptree, a Wild Crabapple (Malus coronaria) with rose-colored buds unfolding, Deer-tongue Grass (Panicum clandestinum), American Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), tall Agrimony (Agrimonia gryposepala), Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), Sweet-scented Bedstraw ( Galium triflorum), Black Haw Viburnum, Carex hirtifolia, Wild Stonecrop, Cutleaf Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata), May Apple, Robin's Plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) in bloom, Allegheny Crowfoot (Ranunculus allegheniensis), Allegheny Blackberry ( Rubus allegheniensis) and Spice Bush. Several species on this list which is far from exhaustive are calciphile indicators. Of added interest was a Spice Bush Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio troilus), which apparently was depositing eggs on the Spice Bush, although we found none. A Towhee was also heard here.
A soil sample (no 1) was taken from a depth of 2-3 inches (5 7.6 cm) near the trunk of the large Black Maple. This soil was very dark, rich in organic matter and of low density. Values of pH obtained initially for this sample fell in the range of 5.8 to 6.5 and 20 hours later 6.0 to 6.8. It is possible that this uncertainty is attributable to complex organic reactions. It is also possible that some acid leaching occurred here, although the higher values approach those expected for Black Maple.
Continuing to skirt the upland forest edge, we saw Wild Sage (Salvia lyrata), a sapling of American Elm, the alien Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum), Rattlesnake Fern (Botrychium virginianum), numerous Black Maple and Shagbark Hickory, some White Oak and White Ash. Heard here were Tufted Titmouse (Parus bicolor) and Red-eyed Vireo, followed by the observation of Carex digitalis, Sugar Maple, Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), Hairy Bedstraw (Galium pilosum), the forest bluegrass Poa alsodes, Allegheny Blackberry and Horse Gentian (Triosteum perfoliatum ). Small unidentified birds were common in the shrubbery, and the only Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) of the day was heard.
We now crossed a small stream, Lime Kiln Run, rich in cobbles but with no visible water. Then on the terrace once more, we noted Bitternut Hickory and several Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) with leaves just unfolding; then Wild Pansy (Viola rafinesquii) in bloom, Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) long past blooming, Shrubby St. Johns-wort (Hypericum spathulatum) and Pale Indian Plantain (Cacalia atriplicifolia).
At this point we arrived at the place where the mountain spur impinges on the River and the terrace vanishes. Also the latter had become very sandy and bore a flora quite different from that which had prevailed thus far. Species noted were Spring Bluets (Houstonia caerulea), the wood rush Luzula echinata, Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis ), Wild Vetch (Vicia caroliniana), Upland Low Blueberry, Deer Berry (Vaccinium stamineum), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Great Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa) and Canada Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) apparently free of the Adelgid. Rough-winged Swallows (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) foraged above the River and a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) and Magnolia Warblers (Dendroica magnolia) were also seen.
A soil sample ( no 2) taken from a depth of 2 3 inches initially yielded pH= 4.6 and 20 hours later pH= 4.8. It is likely that these low values, as also reflected in the flora, are a consequence at least in part of the siliceous substrate provided by the sandy soil.
Beyond the terrace remnant we left the River's edge and followed a woods road / trail up a gentle slope into the upland forest. The bedrock here appeared to consist at least in part of a dense quartzite which formed a ledge bordering the trail. It is likely that this rock contributed some of the sand of the terrace remnant.
The canopy here was mature but young and consisted of Red and Sugar Maples, Chestnut Oak, Shagbark and Pignut Hickories, Tuliptree, Black Birch and Basswood. Blooming Flowering Dogwood formed an understory and azalea, likely Flame (Rhododendron calendulaceum) was present. Herbs included Mealy Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata), Christmas Fern, Marginal Shield Fern (Dryopteris marginalis), Roundlobe Hepatica (Hepatica americana), Plume Lily (Smilacina racemosa), White Clintonia (Clintonia umbellulata), Great Chickweed in bloom, Blue Cohosh, Wild Stonecrop. Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), Cutleaf Goldenrod (Solidago arguta) and Ox-eye (Heliopsis helianthoides). Soil was yellowish-brown and was capped by a semi-mor. A determination of its pH yielded an initial value of 5.0 and 15 hours later one of 5.1..
The Virginia Natural Heritage Program has established a test plot (Fleming, 1999) not far from our site discussed above and just upslope. Ninety-one species of vascular plants were recorded for their 400 sq meter plot. Although our inventory was far less complete than theirs, the species composition found by us is quite similar, given its limitations. However they did not find Tuliptree, Basswood, Wild Stonecrop, Blue Cohosh or Ox-eye, which may be a consequence the higher slope position of their plot. Of particular interest however, is the single Black Maple found in their plot, since it seems to imply the near proximity of carbonate in some form. An identical pH value of 5.1 was obtained for a composite soil sample in their plot.
As we reached the end of our traverse our dog attracted our attention by chasing a Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), which attempted to lead him across the River from her ducklings, which had scattered on our side. All was resolved by our calling him off.
Species noted on our return were Black-throated Green warbler (Dendroica virens), Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), more Redstart, a Red Admiral Butterfly (Venessa atalanta). Spreading Chervil (Chaerophyllum procumbens) and Hooked Crowfoot (Ranunculus recurvatus).
Additional birds seen in open areas along the River included the following:
Redwing Blackbird (Agelalus phoeniceus)
Mourning Dove (Zenoidura macroura)
Tree Swallow ( Iridoprocne bicolor)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)
Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Common Grackle ( Quiscalus quiscula)
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
American Robin ( Turdus migratorius)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Eastern Phoebe ( Sayornis phoebe)
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)
Cardinal (Richmondena cardinalis)
Marsh Hawk (Circus cyaneus)
Jackson River Flood Plain
Source Walk: 5-30-00
Our 5-30-00 inventory of the Jackson River flood plain was a brief foray under sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Our first observations were made in the vicinity of a Beaver pond not far above the bridge on the right bank. Here we noted Silky Willow (Salix sericea ), sedges dominated by Carex gynandra, C. lurida and Scirpus validus, Cow Lily (Nuphar advena), the rush Juncus effusus, Brown Thrasher, Catbird, Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens), Spring Peepers and boisterous Green Frogs (Rana clamitans), with American Toads suddenly chiming in.
A relatively dry part of the flood plain was dominated by Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) with abundant meadow Garlic (Allium canadense ), Fowl Manna Grass (Glyceria striata), Late Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), Coral Berry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), Dame's Rocket, Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium) and numerous widely spaced young Black Walnut. A 1.25 inch (3 cm) "Dobson Fly" (Corydalus sp) with wings dark brown, strongly-veined, a band of white spots on the forewing near the middle and smaller white spots near the tip; antennae well developed; chewing mouth parts and weak flight, was also common.
Additional species collected and identified later by R. Hunsucker were as follows:
Poa palustris (Fowl Bluegrass) wet to moist areas
Sphenopholis obtusata var obtusata (a wedge grass) on moist soil
Holcus lanatus (alien Velvet Grass) - in moist areas
Elymus villosus (Villous Wild Rye) - in moist areas
Alisma subcordatum (Common Water Plantain) -in mud
Carex scoparia- on moist soil
C. festucacea- wet and moist soil
C. lupulina-edge of pond
C. squarrosa- moist soil
C. laevivaginata- moist soil
C. tribuloides- in mud and moist soil
Birds, in addition to those listed previously and mostly from open areas on the
flood plain were the following:
Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
Hidden Valley 5-30-00
Quercus bicolor, high terrace
Hidden Valley 5-30-00
Seep flora, high terrace. Note Q. bicolor seedling.
Source Walks: 5-29-00
Where the Jackson River swings west for close to 1.5 miles (2.4 km), it has left a high bordering terrace to the south. This terrace appears to be developed on Millboro Shale, but its alluvial component is not clear from our studies. As a land surface, including its soils, the terrace should be the oldest in the area, since it has, from its formation perhaps hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago, been subject to neither extensive erosion nor deposition. It is however subject to vertical leaching from rainwater and limited upwelling of groundwater that reaches the surface in seeps and originates in more elevated areas to the south. These waters likely engage carbonate strata and thus moderate the effect of acid leaching. Additionally, there has also been some overland wash, especially during the period of euroamerican settler deforestation and attempts at agriculture. A campground has been established by the U S Forest Service on this terrace and much of our inventory was conducted in its vicinity. Weather during our stay was dominated by cool and cloudy conditions
Although mature, the terrace forest canopy is young. It appears to be of uneven age, but few trees exceed 2 feet (0.6 m) dbh. Perhaps pointing to catastrophic land use, the canopy contains abundant Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea). However, White Oak appears to be dominant. Black and Northern Red Oaks are not common except as seedlings. Red Maple is common, but mostly as seedlings and small trees. White Pine is scattered throughout and is among the largest trees, but it is also common as seedlings. Other species are Black Cherry of the usual poor form, a little Black Gum, very little Tuliptree, A few Black Birch, Sassafras, Sugar Maple and Virginia Pine. The only hickory seen was Shagbark and its seedlings and small saplings were widespread. White Ash, an important soil character indicator, was almost confined to seedlings, and only a single seedling of American Basswood was seen. A species of particular interest in the seep areas was Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor), and it attains a large size.
Minor and understory trees included healthy-appearing as well as more common diseased and dead Flowering Dogwood, small hawthorn, likely Crataegus flabellata, Muscletree, Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) and a single small Wild Crabapple at the roadside. Both Upland Low Blueberry and Deerberry, the latter in bloom, were common shrubs, as was Black Haw Viburnum. Other shrubs were Maple-leaf Viburnum, Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina), Shrubby St. Johns-wort, American Hazelnut, Maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina), the alien Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and Flame Azalea in bloom. Both Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper were common vines as well as ground cover. Other vines included Common Greenbrier, Saw Brier (Smilax glauca) in dry areas and Hispid Greenbrier (Smilax hispida) in seep areas.
Herbs found in the upland forest near camp included the acidiphile tick-trefoil Desmodium nudiflorum, Wreath Goldenrod, Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula), New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), Christmas Fern, Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens), usually under White Pine, isolated patches of Jewelweed (Impatiens sp) with Nodding Fescue, Hog Peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata), Wild Geranium, May Apple and Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) in concavities, Carex blanda, Cut-leaf Grapefern (Botrychium dissectum), Downy Yellow Foxglove (Aureolaria virginica), Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Rattlesnake Weed in bloom, Hairy Hawkweed (Hieracium gronovii), Mountain Bellwort (Uvularia pudica), Mealy Bellwort, White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus), Poverty Oat Grass (Danthonia spicata), Tall Coneflower, Leather-leaf Meadowrue (Thalictrum coriacium ), Hairy Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytoni) and an unidentified milkweed(Asclepias sp).
Mosses seen were Delicate Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum), Mnium affine, Dicranum scoparium, Bryoandersonia illecebra, Atrichum crispum, unidentified species of Polytrichum and Dicranum-all on soil; Rhynchostegium serrulatum on the base of a White Pine, Ulota crispa on Northern Red Oak, Anomodon rostratus on the base of a White Oak, and several unidentified species of Hypnum. Few fungi but Collybia dryophylla were noted.
A soil sample (no 5) from a 2-3 inch depth under a thin mor was taken in the upland forest. This soil proved to be rich in light gray silt with the appearance of ash and did not form lumps on drying. Beneath the mor layer it was virtually devoid of organic matter. A pH value of 4.5 was obtained both initially and 28 hours later. Associated plants were Teaberry, Rattlesnake Weed, Potentilla simplex, Partridge Berry, the moss Dicranum scoparium and seedlings of Red Maple.
Immediately south of the campground there is a substantial seep or springbrook with a very shallow channel. Soil from this seep was high in organic matter and had an initial pH of 4.7 and the same value 28 hours later. On drying this soil divided into two components. The minor component consisted of a light gray ash-like silt and the major component consisted of hard dark lumps that could not be broken with the fingers. It is likely that this is a mixture of clay and organic matter that was originally in colloidal form. By contrast the seep water had a pH of 5.5, perhaps indicating that this water had been in contact with more alkaline material at depth and beneath the zone of acid leaching. It is possible that nearby limestones were involved.
The flora in the seep vicinity was dominated by large and small Swamp White Oak, White Oak and Red Maple. A few small Sugar Maple were also seen, Shrubs noted were Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata), Black Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Black Haw Viburnum, American Hazelnut, Pasture Rose and the hawthorn Crataegus flabellata, Associated vines were Virginia Creeper, Poison Ivy, Summer Grape, Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana), the dewberry Rubus flagellaris and possibly R. enslenii as well. Although Maleberry was not seen at the seep, it was present in the nearby forest, perhaps reflecting a generally high water table.
A feature of the springbrook bank was the abundance of Tree Moss (Climacium americanum), frequently in close association with the moss Bryoandersonia illecebra. Also abundant were Stiff Marsh Bedstraw (Galium obtusum), Northern Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus septentrionalis), and Wood Anemone. Other common species were Cowbane (Oxypolis rigidior), Riddell's Hedge Nettle (Stachys cordata ), the manna grass Glyceria melicaria, Crooked-stem Aster (Aster prenanthoides), Water Speedwell (Veronica anagalis-aquatica), Hog Peanut, Carex typhina, Riparian Wild Rye (Elymus riparius), Wild Liquorice (Galium circaezans), Enchanter's Nightshade, a jewelweed (Impatiens sp), Downy Wood Violet, Indian Cucumberroot (Medeola virginiana), a Sneezeweed (Helenium sp), Virginia Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria), Potentilla simplex, an unidentified Habenaria orchis, Squaw Weed (Senecio obovatus) and May Apple. A little Virginia Knotweed (Polygonum virginianum) was seen at the edge of the community. There were also several patches of unidentified Sphagnum moss in wetter areas and several species of Hypnum were present as well. The moss Anomodon attenuatus occurred on trunks of Swamp White Oak.
Also seen in the general vicinity were Common Speedwell (Veronica officinalis), Bushy Panic Grass (Panicum dichotomum, Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), the moss Dicranum scoparium and the fungi Trichaptum biforme and Devil's Urn (Urnula craterium).
A loop traverse was now made from the seep area toward the east and return, bearing left. Species successively noted were common mature White Pine, Spotted Wintergreen, Cut-leaf Goldenrod, quite common and very glaucus Carex laxiculmis (said by Strausbaugh and Core (1977) to characterize "rich woods"), Poverty Oat Grass, Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia), Pume Lily, Wide-leaved Joe-pye Weed, Canada Bluegrass, Variable Panic Grass (Panicum commutatum var barbulatum), Plantain-leaf Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), generally quite abundant May Apple and White Oak, Carex gracilescens (also, according to S and C, a product of "rich woods"), Deer Berry, Yellow Star Grass (Hypoxis hirsuta ) in bloom, Rattlesnake Weed, also in bloom, Downy Serviceberry, New York Fern, the moss Mnium cuspidatum, Mealy Bellwort, Upright Yellow Wood Sorrel, a "gall-of the Earth" (Prenanthes sp), Teaberry, abundant seedlings of Red Maple, more Carex laxiculmis, Panicled Hawkweed (Hieracium paniculatum), Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, an unidentified Mycena fungus, the moss Dicranum fulvum on sandstone, Four-leaved Yam, Carex gracillima, a single Tuliptree, then a multistemmed Sugar Maple sapling with etiolated leaves, followed by Multiflora Rose, Carex amphibola, Sensitive Fern, the fungus Psathyrella delineata on hardwood debris, the moss Leucobryum albidum, White Grass (Leersia virginica) and Northern Bugleweed (Lycopus uniflorus), both in a moist spot, the wood rush Luzula multiflora and the mint Stachys cordata. Other sedges collected on the traverse and identified by R. Hunsucker were Carex complanata, C. wildenowii, C. rosea, C. radiata, C. blanda and C. cephalophora.
Although it remained overcast all day, the calls of Ovenbirds ( Seiurus aurocapillus) were incessant in this forest. In general ground cover was quite heavy throughout, particularly by Virginia Creeper, Poison Ivy and May Apple, in concavities and moist areas. Shrubs were less conspicuous but omnipresent. No Chestnut Oak was recorded, which may be a consequence of low relief and a high water table as indicated by the presence of seeps and Swamp White Oak. White Ash appeared to be virtually confined to seedlings, perhaps as a consequence of generally high acidity of the soils. Also Tuliptree has only a scattered occurrence, which is more difficult to explain. There is an interesting contrast between this forest and that along Potts Creek at the Steel Bridge Campground of the Jefferson National Forest (see our section on Potts Mountain), The latter appears to be less acidiphile, with less Teaberry and common White Ash, but exhibits a sparse ground cover, perhaps as a result of access to rich fluvial deposits but more dissected terrain.
During the evening of 5-29-00 numerous small birds, some of which were unidentified warblers, were seen foraging in the crowns of Scarlet Oak at Camp. Heard after 7:00 PM were the calls of Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ovenbird, Spring Peeper and Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor / chrysocelis). A Ruby-throat Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) was also seen. Other birds seen and/or heard throughout the day were Great Crested Flycatcher ( Myiarchus crinitus), Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus ), Wood Thrush, Catbird, American Robin, Mourning Dove and Turkey Vulture.
Source Walk: 5-30-00
On the morning of 5-30-00, sunny, bright and cool, we conducted an inventory of the small stream valley immediately east of the Campground. This stream originates in a hilly area to the south. The valley in in the vicinity of our inventory is a steep-sided ravine, but the rapidly-flowing stream is flanked by a number of small terraces. A black fissile shale, likely Millboro, is exposed in the stream bed. The lower course of the stream is through open fields on the sloping terrace, but that above the campground road, in the vicinity of our inventory, is forested.
On entering this forest, just above the road, one is struck by a number of tall mature, but quite young White ash. Associated with the Ash were a few quite large (~ 23 inch / 0.58 m) dbh Black Walnut, Black Cherry of poor form and small American Elm.
Shrubs noted were Spice Bush, Blach Haw Viburnum, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and Wild Plum (Prunus Americana ). Poison Ivy, Virginia Creeper, Common and Hispid Greenbriers were vines recorded.
Testifying to soil fertility was a diverse herb flora, which here included Wingstem, Tall Agrimony, May Apple, Sweet-scented Bedstraw, Nodding Fescue, Canada Brome Grass, Honewort, Striped Violet in bloom, Variable Panic Grass, Late Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), abundant Wild Stonecrop, Rattlesnake Fern (Botrychium virginianum) and a wild rye (Elymus sp). The only fungus noted here was Ustulina deusta, which is common on the decaying roots of Beech maple and ash, and Catbird was the only bird identified
Continuing up-ravine we saw in succession the first of the forest bluegrassPoa alsodes, Black Cohosh, Northern Red and White Oaks, Thimbleweed, (Anemone virginiana ), Carex hirtifolia, Virginia Knotweed, Hog Peanut, Cockspur Hawthorn, Carex gracillima, Squaw Weed, Virgin's Bower, Indian Turnip, Carex digitalis, Upright Yellow Wood Sorrel; then Crooked-stem Aster, the alien bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus, the ineptly-named natve 'Greek Valerian" (Polemonium reptans) and Enchanter's Nightshade.
We now encountered a small patch of the State-listed Great Indian Plantain ( Cacalia muehlenbergii), followed by Lance-leaf Wild Liquorice (Galium lanceolatum), Great Chickweed, the forest grass Brachyelytrum erectum, Stiff Marsh Bedstraw, some mating crane flies, Downy Serviceberry, Wrinkle-leaf Goldenrod ( Solidago rugosa), Bottlebrush Grass, Wild Geranium, Slippery Elm, Virginia Strawberry and some dying Flowering Dogwood. In a moister area near the stream, were Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), Silvery Glade Fern (Athyrium thelypterioides), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) and White Grass. Nearby was a Sugar Maple sapling with its underleaf resembling that of Black Maple; then False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), Allegheny Crowfoot and small Red Maple seedlings.
Next seen was White Pine, followed byCarex prasina (according to S and C, characteristic "of wet woods and thickets"), then a beautiful tall Shagbark Hickory, greater than a foot in diameter, and a single plant of Spotted Wintergreen. Attesting also to the merging of habitats were Arrowleaf Tearthumb (Polygonum sagittatum), Common Many Knees (Polygonatum biflorum), the fungus Collybia dryophylla (oak-loving Collybia) and, again, Multiflora Rose.
These were followed by Wild Liquorice, Carex cephalophora, Robins Plantain, another Catbird, Winter Grape(Vitis vulpina), an unidentified milkweed (Asclepias sp), Bitternut Hickory, Common Speedwell, Carex laxiculmis, Hophornbeam, a Red Maple sapling, Smooth Rockcress (Arabis laevigata), Mealy Bellwort and, on the stream bank, Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata) and a sapling of Sycamore.
At this point we saw numerous seedlings of White Ash, noting also the presence of insect galls on their leaves. Present as well were an isolated Sugar Maple, White Wood Aster and Carrion Flower (Smilax herbacea). A soil sample (no 7) taken here next to Mealy Bellwort, was moderately rich in organic matter, and had a clay component as indicated by hard lumps formed on drying, but also contained some sand and silt as well. Initially obtained from this sample was a pH of 5.6, followed by the same value 28 hours later.
Recorded as we continued up-ravine were Hairy Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytoni), Clustered Snakeroot (Sanicula gregaria), another sapling of Sugar Maple, the fungus Mycena pura with a small slug attached; then an American Basswood sapling, followed by a disporum, likely Hairy (Disporum lanuginosum), American Hazelnut, Carex pensylvanica, Squaw Root (Conopholus Americana), the fungus Stereum ostrea (False Turkeytail), Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Hooked Crowfoot, Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus), Deertongue Grass,Carex amphibola and Hairy Woodmint (Blephilia hirsuta).
On reaching the up-ravine limit of our traverse we returned to our origin by following the stream bed. A feature of this stream that was quite apparent was the deposit of algae and other organisms on rocks in the bed. Also apparent was the preponderance of sandstone in the bed load cobbles and larger rocks, while no limestone was found among them. Water in the stream was found to have pH=6.0. A soil sample (no 8) was taken from the bottom of the vertical stream bank immediately above an exposure in the stream bed of black fissile shale. This sample yielded pH= 5.3 initially and the same value 28 hours later. It appeared to be almost devoid of organic matter, and was notable for its content of sand, although silt appeared to be a major component.
Of some interest was the absence of calls of the Ovenbird in this ravine forest, given their frequency in that of the adjacent terrace.
The Hidden Valley Area offers outstanding examples of the relation between forest types, bedrock geology, topography and hydrologic regimes. It is rare that high water tables are associated with otherwise dry, acidic forests in the mountains. The Swamp White Oak community is unusual in this respect. Contrasting with this community are the rich colluvial slope and ravine forests associated with carbonate rocks. As concluded by the Virginia Natural Heritage Program (Fleming, 1999), these too are rare on public lands. The present condition of the flood plain and low terraces of the Jackson River is a particularly sore point. In ecological terms it is an example of land abuse. These bottomland habitats are also all too rare on public lands and play a critical role in the regional ecologic mosaic. Region-wide ecosystems with a complement of flora and fauna approaching that of the original system cannot be established without them. This is particularly true of large mammals, birds and certain aquatic forms. In terms of biologic productivity each acre of bottomland is equivalent to a number of acres of upland forest. Consequently, keeping the land in its present state for agricultural and cultural reasons cannot be justified. It is too much of a premium as floral and faunal preserve. At worst these lands should be allowed to revert to native vegetation that would shade out most of the alien species, at best again to wilderness.
Fleming, Gary P. (1999)Plant Communities of Limestone, Dolomite, and Other Calcareous Substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Virginia, Virginia Natural Heritage Tech. Rep. 99-4, Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, Div. Of Natural Heritage, Richmond, Va.
Rader, E. K. and N. H. Evans, editors (1993) Geologic Map of Virginia, Expanded Explanation, Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Charlottesville, Va.
Strausbaugh, P. D. and Earl L. Core, (1977) Flora of West Virginia, second ed., Seneca Books,Inc., Grantsville, West Va.