Monday, June 7, 2010

Trees & Shrubs of The High Knob Landform


Looking Across The High Knob Landform
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

E. Lucy Braun...
"The Appalachian upland has been continuously available for forest development since the origin of angiosperms, now the most important constituents of deciduous forest.

Its central part, especially the western slope of the unglaciated Appalachian upland, is remarkable for the diversity of aspect of its forest, which results from the large number of species and innumerable variations in groupings of species.

Here is preserved a large remnant of ancient forest, of the forest of the Tertiary age."

Shrouded In Fog - Historic Cumberland Gap
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The ancient High Knob Landform, of which Cumberland Gap is most famous, rests at the epi-center of forest diversity in North America with a richness and rarity of limited range species that extends from the surface into great subterranean depths ( the surface & subterranean being connected in intimate and extraordinary ways across the entire High Knob Landform ).

Cleopatra's Pool
Gap Cave of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform contains the deepest cave system east of the Rockies & north of Mexico on the North American continent, and the longest cave system in Virginia ( one of more than 1,000 caves across this great landform of the Upper Tennessee & Cumberland river basins ).

Upper Cumberland River Basin
NW Flank of High Knob Landform
Fern Lake of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

[ Visible abovein upper left background, are overturned rock stratas characteristic of the northwestern mountain arm of the High Knob Landform ( from Norton to beyond Cumberland Gap ).  Cliffs overturned to the northwest, similar to those above, are visible along U.S. 23 just prior to reaching Powell Valley Overlook ( heading south from the City of Norton ) ].

E. Lucy Braun...
"Glaciation was a major event affecting the forests of eastern United States.  Only 30,000 years, more or less, have been available for the revegetation of the glacially denuded land; only a fractional part of this time has been available for deciduous forest development.  This is in contrast to the millions of years of undisturbed occupancy of the unglaciated land to the south."

DNA studies on specific groups of organisms suggest that the High Knob Landform was a major refugium during Pleistocene ice ages.  This being supported and further reinforced by discovery of its subterranean vastness!

NW Flank of HKL
Union of Surface & Subterranean
Shillalah Creek Falls - Cumberland Gap NHP
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

That the Clinch, Powell, and Cumberland river basins collectively represent the greatest assemblage of freshwater aquatic diversity in all of North America is no mistake, as this rich array    of aquatic species is a direct reflection of both the surface and subterranean diversities which have developed throughout this ancient mountain landform during a span of millions of years!

Colorful Reflections Upon The Powell River
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The following species list, and floral listings on this website, are based upon a composite of works which are both local and regional in scope.

Specific Data Sources Include:

State Natural Heritage Programs of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora

The USDA Plant Database.

The University of Tennessee Herbarium.

The Nature Conservancy & Clinch Valley Program of Southwestern Virginia.

Peake, Dwight E., ( 1980 ). Vascular Flora Of Little Stony Creek.  A Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the Department of Biology, The College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Davis, Richard V., ( 1979 ). Vascular Flora of Natural Tunnel State Park. Scott County, Virginia.  A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences, East Tennnessee State University.

Biological and Ecological Survey of the Martin's Fork Wild River-Croushorn/Howard Properties, Harlan County, Kentucky.  Kentucky State Nature Preserve Commission and Kentucky Division of Water.  June 2003 ( preliminary report ).

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.  Work in Progress.

Richard Kretz ( Naturalist & Photographer ). The Pinnacle NAP, Hidden Valley, and High Knob Landform Biodiversity Studies. Work in Progress.

Browning, W.W., ( 2012 ). Biodiversity and Climatology of the High Knob Landform: With Special Emphasis on the Clinch and Powell River Watersheds of the Upper Tennessee River Basin. Work in Progress.


Please note: This website is set up to be best viewed using Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 9.0 .

Photographs are best viewed 
with Google Chrome.


A listing of tree, shrub, and sub-shrub species documented across the High Knob Landform counties follows as a reference for future works to revise ( the following list being incomplete ).

[ All species in alphabetical order by scientific name ].






Trees & Shrubs

Spring Forest of the Cumberland Mountains
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

E. Lucy Braun...
"Mixed deciduous forest occurs throughout the unglaciated Appalachian upland, and to some extent beyond it.  However, only in certain parts, especially the Cumberland Mountains and southern Allegheny Mountains, and adjacent Cumberland and Allegheny Plateaus, does the mixed forest that we know as mixed mesophytic forest prevail."

Boxelder Maple
( Acer negundo var. negundo )

Black Maple
( Acer nigrum )

Striped Maple
( Acer pensylvanicum )

Striped Maple of the Northern Hardwoods
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Red Maple
( Acer rubrum var. rubrum )

Red Maple - Tree of Adaptation
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Red Maple Variation
( Acer rubrum var. trilobum )

Silver Maple
( Acer saccharinum )

Black-Sugar Maple Intermediate
( Acer saccharum x nigrum )

Sugar Maple
( Acer saccharum var. saccharum )

Sugar Maple - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Mountain Maple
( Acer spicatum )

Yellow Buckeye
( Aesculus flava )

Tree of Heaven
( Ailanthus altissima )

Mimosa or Silktree
( Albizia julibrissin )

Hazel or Smooth Alder
( Alnus serrulata )

Hazel Alder - Tree of HKL Wetlands
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Common Serviceberry
( Amelanchier arborea )

 Allegheny Serviceberry
( Amelanchier laevis )

Roundleaf Serviceberry
( Amelanchier sanguinea var. sanguinea )

*Running Serviceberry
( Amelanchier spicata )

False Indigo
( Amorpha fruticosa )

Mountain or Smooth False Indigo
( Amorpha glabra )

Devil's Walkingstick
( Aralia spinosa )

Hairy Chokeberry
( Aronia arbutifolia )

Black Chokeberry
( Aronia melanocarpa )

Purple Chokeberry
( Aronia prunifolia )

Giant Cane
( Arundinaria gigantea )

Pawpaw
( Asimina triloba )

Pawpaw - Tree of Unique Bloom & Fruit
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

American Barberry ( Berberis canadensis )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Japanese Barberry
( Berberis thunbergii )

Yellow Birch
( Betula alleghaniensis )

Yellow Birch of the Northern Hardwoods
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Cherry Birch
( Betula lenta )

River Birch
( Betula nigra )

Paper Mulberry
( Broussonetia papyrifera )

Common Boxwood
( Buxus sempervirens )

*American Beautyberry
( Callicarpa americana )

*Eastern Sweetshrub Variation
( Calycanthus floridus var. floridus )

Eastern Sweetshrub
( Calycanthus floridus var. glaucus )

American Hornbeam or Blue Beech
( Carpinus caroliniana )

Mockernut Hickory
( Carya alba )

Carolina or Southern Shagbark Hickory
( Carya carolinae-septentrionalis )

Bitternut Hickory
( Carya cordiformis )

Pignut Hickory
( Carya glabra )

Pecan
( Carya illinoinensis )

Shellbark Hickory
( Carya laciniosa )

[ Shellbark Hickory is reported as a species within Cumberland Gap NHP, but the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora questions if any are further east in Virginia ].

Red Hickory
( Carya ovalis )

Shagbark Hickory ( Carya ovata )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Sand Hickory
( Carya pallida )

Remnant Highcountry of the High Knob Landform
Early Color - High Knob Massif - October 8, 2006
Photograph by Dan Weemhoff - © All Rights Reserved.

E. Lucy Braun...
"The mixed mesophytic association occupies a central position in the deciduous forest.  This is a region of moderate to high rainfall, of cold, though not extreme winters.  The area of its best development, the Cumberland Mountains and Cumberland Plateau and southern Allegheny Mountains, is an area of mature topography...........within this area the complex mixed forest displays many segregates demonstrating the sensitiveness of its constituents to minor variations in environment - microclimates and soils, both of which are affected by physiographic history."

American Chestnut
( Castanea dentata )

Chinese Chestnut
( Castanea mollissima )

Allegheny Chinkapin
( Castanea pumila )

Northern Catalpa
( Catalpa speciosa )

New Jersey Tea
( Ceanothus americanus )

American Bittersweet
( Celastrus scandens )

Sugarberry
( Celtis laevigata )

Common Hackberry
( Celtis occidentalis )

Dwarf Hackberry
( Celtis tenuifolia )

Buttonbush
( Cephalanthus occidentalis )

Beautiful Blooms of Buttonbush
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Redbud
( Cercis canadensis var. canadensis )

Striped Wintergreen or Striped Pipsissewa
( Chimaphila maculata )

Fringe-tree
( Chionanthus virginicus )

Kentucky Yellowwood
( Cladrastis kentukea )

Mountain Sweetpepperbush
( Clethra acuminata )

Alternate-leaf Dogwood
( Cornus alternifolia )

Silky Dogwood
( Cornus amomum ssp. amomum )

Silky Dogwood Subspecies
( Cornus amomum ssp. obliqua )

Flowering Dogwood
( Cornus florida )

*Gray Dogwood
( Cornus racemosa )

American Hazelnut
( Corylus americana )

Biltmore Hawthorn
( Crataegus biltmoreana )

Limestone Hawthorn
( Crataegus calpodendron )

Cockspur Hawthorn
( Crataegus crus-galli )

Copenhagen Hawthorn
( Crataegus intricata )

Bigfruit Hawthorn
( Crataegus macrosperma )

Downy Hawthorn
( Crataegus mollis )

*Frosted or Triangle-leaved Hawthorn
( Crataegus pruinosa )

Dotted Hawthorn
( Crataegus punctata )

Dwarf Hawthorn
( Crataegus uniflora )

*Northern Bush-honeysuckle
( Diervilla lonicera )

Common Persimmon ( Diospyros virginiana )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Russian Olive
( Elaeagnus angustifolia )

Autumn Olive
( Elaeagnus umbellata var. parvifolia )

Trailing Arbutus
( Epigaea repens )

*Winged Euonymus
( Euonymus alata )

Bursting-heart or Strawberry Bush
( Euonymus americanus )

Eastern Wahoo
( Euonymus atropurpureus var. atropurpureus )

*Running Strawberry Bush
( Euonymus obovatus )

American Beech
( Fagus grandifolia )

Forsythia or Golden Bells
( Forsythia viridissima )

White Ash
( Fraxinus americana )

Black Ash
( Fraxinus nigra )

Green Ash
( Fraxinus pennsylvanica )

Blue Ash
( Fraxinus quadrangulata )

Mountain Tea
( Gaultheria procumbens )

Black Huckleberry
( Gaylussacia baccata )

*Box Huckleberry
( Gaylussacia brachycera )

Blue Huckleberry
( Gaylussacia frondosa )

Bear or Mountain Huckleberry
( Gaylussacia ursina )

Maidenhair Tree
( Ginkgo biloba )

Honey Locust
( Gleditsia triacanthos )

Kentucky Coffee-tree
( Gymnocladus dioica )

*Silverbell
( Halesia tetraptera )

American Witchhazel
( Hamamelis virginiana )

Rose of Sharon
( Hibiscus syriacus )

Wild Hydrangea ( Hydrangea arborescens )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

*Oak Leaf Hydrangea
( Hydrangea quercifolia )

Bushy St. Johnswort
( Hypericum densiflorum )

St. Andrew's Cross
( Hypericum hypericoides var. hypericoides )

St. Andrew's Cross
( Hypericum hypericoides var. multicaule )

Shrubby St. Johnswort
( Hypericum prolificum )

Carolina Holly
( Ilex ambigua )

Mountain Holly
( Ilex montana )

American Holly ( Ilex opaca var. opaca )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Common Winterberry
( Ilex verticillata )

Virginia Sweetspire
( Itea virginica )

Butternut or White Walnut
( Juglans cinerea )

Black Walnut
( Juglans nigra )

Eastern Redcedar
( Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana )

Mountain Laurel ( Kalmia latifolia )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Japanese Rose
( Kerria japonica )

Highland Doghobble
( Leucothoe fontanesiana )

Red-twig Doghobble
( Leucothoe recurva )

Amur Privet
( Ligustrum amurense )

Border Privet
( Ligustrum obtusifolium )

Chinese Privet
( Ligustrum sinense )

Northern Spicebush
( Lindera benzoin )

Sweetgum ( Liquidambar styraciflua )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Tuliptree or Yellow Poplar ( Liriodendron tulipifera )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Wild or Mountain Honeysuckle
( Lonicera dioica var. dioica )

Amur Honeysuckle
( Lonicera maackii )

*Morrow's Honeysuckle
( Lonicera morrowii )
Maleberry
( Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina )

Osage Orange
( Maclura pomifera )

Cucumber-tree or Cucumber Magnolia
( Magnolia acuminata )

Mountain or Fraser Magnolia
( Magnolia fraseri )

Evergreen or Southern Magnolia
( Magnolia grandiflora )

Bigleaf Magnolia ( Magnolia macrophylla )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Umbrella-tree or Umbrella Magnolia
( Magnolia tripetala )

Southern Crab Apple
( Malus angustifolia )

Sweet Crab Apple
( Malus coronaria )

Paradise Apple
( Malus pumila )

Partridgeberry
( Mitchella repens )

White Mulberry
( Morus alba )

Red Mulberry
( Morus rubra )

Blackgum or Black Tupelo 
( Nyssa sylvatica )

Hop Hornbeam or Ironwood
( Ostrya virginiana )

Sourwood
( Oxydendrum arboreum )

*American Pachysandra or Allegheny Spurge
( Pachysandra procumbens )

Princess Tree
( Paulownia tomentosa )

Canby's Mountain Lover
( Paxistima canbyi )

Streambank Mock Orange
( Philadelphus hirsutus )

American Mistletoe or Oak Mistletoe
( Phoradendron leucarpum )

Common Ninebark
( Physocarpus opulifolius var. opulifolius )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Shortleaf Pine
( Pinus echinata )

*Table Mountain pine
( Pinus pungens )

Pitch Pine
( Pinus rigida )

Eastern White Pine
( Pinus strobus )

*Loblolly Pine
( Pinus taeda )

Virginia Pine ( Pinus virginiana )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

American Sycamore
( Platanus occidentalis )

White Poplar
( Populus alba )

Eastern Cottonwood
( Populus deltoides ssp. deltoides )

Balm-of-Gilead or Balsam Poplar
( Populus ×jackii )

Bigtooth Aspen
( Populus grandidentata )

American Plum
( Prunus americana )

Chickasaw Plum
( Prunus angustifolia var. angustifolia )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

*Sour Cherry
( Prunus cerasus )

Hortulan Plum
( Prunus hortulana )

Mahaleb Cherry
( Prunus mahaleb )

*Pin Cherry
( Prunus pensylvanica var. pensylvanica )

Peach
( Prunus persica )

Black Cherry
( Prunus serotina ssp. serotina )

Choke Cherry
( Prunus virginiana var. virginiana )

Common Hoptree
( Ptelea trifoliata ssp. trifoliata var. trifoliata )

Buffalo Nut ( Pyrularia pubera )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

White Oak
( Quercus alba )

Scarlet Oak
( Quercus coccinea )

Southern Red Oak
( Quercus falcata )

Blackjack Oak
( Quercus marilandica var. marilandica )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Chestnut Oak
( Quercus montana )

Chinkapen Oak
( Quercus muhlenbergii )

 Willow Oak
( Quercus phellos )

Red Oak
( Quercus rubra var. rubra )

Northern Red Oak
( Quercus rubra var. borealis )

Shummard's Oak
( Quercus shumardii )

Post Oak
( Quercus stellata )

Black Oak
( Quercus velutina )

Alderleaf Buckthorn
( Rhamnus alnifolia )

Carolina Buckthorn
( Rhamnus caroliniana )

Lanceleaf Buckthorn
( Rhamnus lanceolata )

Lanceleaf Buckthorn Subspecies
( Rhamnus lanceolata ssp. glabrata )

Smooth Azalea
( Rhododendron arborescens )

Flame Azalea
( Rhododendron calendulaceum )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Catawba Rosebay Rhododendron
( Rhododendron catawbiense )

Cumberland Rhododendron
( Rhododendron cumberlandense )

Great Laurel or Great Rosbay Rhododendron
( Rhododendron maximum )

Pink Azalea
( Rhododendron periclymenoides )

Early Azalea
( Rhododendron prinophyllum )

Swamp Azalea
( Rhododendron viscosum )

Fragrant Sumac
( Rhus aromatica var. aromatica )

Winged Sumac
( Rhus copallinum )

Smooth Sumac
( Rhus glabra )

Staghorn Sumac ( Rhus hirta )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Eastern Prickly Gooseberry
( Ribes cynosbati )

*Skunk Currant
( Ribes glandulosum )

Missouri Gooseberry
( Ribes missouriense )

Appalachian Gooseberry
( Ribes rotundifolium )

Bristly Locust
( Robinia hispida )

Kelsey's Locust
( Robinia hispida var. kelseyi )

Black Locust ( Robinia pseudoacacia )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

*Clammy Locust
( Robinia viscosa var. viscosa )

Carolina Rose ( Rosa carolina )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

*Sweetbriar Rose
( Rosa eglanteria )

Multiflora Rose
( Rosa multiflora )

Swamp Rose
( Rosa palustris )

Prairie or Climbing Rose
( Rosa setigera )

*Virginia Rose
( Rosa virginiana )

Memorial Rose
( Rosa wichuraiana )

Allegheny Blackberry
( Rubus allegheniensis )

*Graves' Blackberry
( Rubus allegheniensis var. gravesii )

Sawtooth Blackberry
( Rubus argutus )

*Smooth Blackberry
( Rubus canadensis )

Sand Blackberry
( Rubus cuneifolius )

Northern Dewberry
( Rubus flagellaris )

Bristly Dewberry
( Rubus hispidus )

Black Raspberry
( Rubus occidentalis )

Purpleflowering Raspberry
( Rubus odoratus var. odoratus )

Pennsylvania Blackberry
( Rubus pensilvanicus )

Wine Raspberry
( Rubus phoenicolasius )

White Willow
( Salix alba )

Weeping Willow
( Salix babylonica )

Carolina Willow ( Salix caroliniana )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

*Missouri River Willow
( Salix eriocephala )

Narrowleaf or Sandbar Willow
( Salix exigua )

Crack Willow
( Salix fragilis )

Prairie Willow
( Salix humilis )

Black Willow
( Salix nigra )

Prairie Willow Variation
( Salix occidentalis )

Silky Willow ( Salix sericea )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

American Black Elderberry
( Sambucus canadensis var. canadensis )

Red Elderberry
( Sambucus racemosa var. pubens )

Sassafras
( Sassafras albidum )

*American Mountain Ash
( Sorbus americana )

*White Meadowsweet
( Spiraea alba var. latifolia )

Japanese Meadowsweet
( Spiraea japonica )

Willowleaf Meadowsweet
( Spiraea salicifolia )

Steeplebush
( Spiraea tomentosa )

Virginia Spiraea
( Spiraea virginiana )

American Bladdernut ( Staphylea trifolia )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Mountain Camellia
( Stewartia ovata )

Snowberry
( Symphoricarpos albus var. albus )

Coralberry
( Symphoricarpos orbiculatus )

Canada Yew
( Taxus canadensis )

Northern White Cedar or Arborvitae
( Thuja occidentalis )

American Basswood or Linden
( Tilia americana var. americana )

White Basswood
( Tilia americana var. heterophylla )

Canadian Hemlock
( Tsuga canadensis )

Winged Elm ( Ulmus alata )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

American Elm
( Ulmus americana )

English Elm
( Ulmus procera )

Slippery Elm
( Ulmus rubra )

Farkleberry
( Vaccinium arboreum )

Highbush Blueberry
( Vaccinium corymbosum )

Southern Mountain Cranberry
( Vaccinium erythrocarpum )

Black Highbush Blueberry
( Vaccinium fuscatum )

Blue Ridge Blueberry
( Vaccinium pallidum )

Upland Highbush Blueberry
( Vaccinium simulatum )

Deerberry of Squaw Huckleberry 
( Vaccinium stamineum )

Mapleleaf Viburnum
( Viburnum acerifolium )

Smooth Mapleleaf Viburnum
( Viburnum acerifolium var. glabrescens )

Possum Haw Viburnum or Withe-rod
( Viburnum cassinoides )

Southern Arrowwood
( Viburnum dentatum )

Hobblebush or Alderleaved Viburnum
( Viburnum lantanoides )

*Nannyberry
( Viburnum lentago )

Blackhaw
( Viburnum prunifolium )

Downy Arrowwood
( Viburnum rafinesquianum )

Rusty Blackhaw
( Viburnum rufidulum )

Periwinkle
( Vinca minor )

 *Shrub Yellowroot
( Xanthorhiza simplicissima )

Adam's Needle ( Yucca filamentosa )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

*Common Prickly Ash
( Zanthoxylum americanum )

Looking toward Town of Wise
Northern Slopes of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Vine Species
( Includes both woody and a few herbaceous vines ) 

Allegheny Vine
( Adlumia fungosa )

*Peppervine
( Ampelopsis arborea )

*Ampelopsis
( Ampelopsis cordata )

Dutchman’s Pipe
( Aristolochia macrophylla )

Crossvine ( Bignonia capreolata )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Trumpet-creeper
( Campsis radicans )

Oriental Bittersweet
( Celastrus orbiculata )

Climbing Bittersweet
( Celastrus scandens )

Whiteleaf Leather Flower or Wax-leaved Clematis
( Clematis glaucophylla )

Sweet Autumn Virgin’s Bower  
( Clematis terniflora )

 Leatherflower or Vase Vine ( Clematis viorna )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Virgin’s Bower ( Clematis virginiana )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Carolina Coralbead or Snailseed
( Cocculus carolinus )

*Climbing Euonymus or Winter Creeper
( Euonymus fortunei )

English Ivy
( Hedera helix )

Japanese Honeysuckle
( Lonicera japonica )

Trumpet Honeysuckle
( Lonicera sempervirens )

Climbing Milkvine
( Matelea obliqua )

Moonseed
( Menispermum canadense )

Virginia Creeper
( Parthenocissus quinquefolia )

Kudzu
( Pueraria montana var. lobata )

Catbrier
( Smilax bona-nox )

Upright Carrionflower
( Smilax ecirrhata )

Glaucous Catbrier
( Smilax glauca )

Smooth Carrionflower
( Smilax herbacea )

Downy Carrionflower
( Smilax pulverulenta )

 Common or Roundleaf Greenbrier
( Smilax rotundifolia )

Bristly Greenbrier
( Smilax tamnoides )

Poison Ivy
( Toxicodendron radicans )

Summer Grape
( Vitis aestivalis )

Summer Grape Variation
( Vitis aestivalis var. bicolor )

Downy Grape or Pigeon Grape
( Vitis cinerea )

Downy Grape Variation
( Vitis cinerea var. baileyana )

River Bank Grape
( Vitis riparia )

Muscadine
( Vitis rotundifolia var. rotundifolia )

Frost Grape ( Vitis vulpina )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

American Wisteria
( Wisteria frutescens )


*Possible to Likely species within the High Knob Landform due to its documentation within one or more adjoining counties
( some have also been introduced into the landform ).

Reference the following sections of my website for additional photographs of floral species that may not be highlighted by picture above:




Comments On Species List

If first impressions count, this tree & shrub list should collectively paint a most grand picture of the ancient landscape of The High Knob Landform!

More than 280 species of trees & shrubs have been documented, to include a select few which fall between being herbs and true shrubs ( more than 320 species when including the woody vines ).

The classification of these as advised by Gary Fleming, Vegetation Ecologist for the Natural Heritage Program of the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation, being based upon whether or not they possess a suffrutescent, or woody, base ( and not upon how tall they are in stature ).

Intermediate species, like Black and Sugar Maple crosses, are also included.

Numerous species have been introduced to the United States, and are not native, such as Tree of Heaven, Mimosa, Rose of Sharon, Multiflora Rose, the Privets, and Olives.

While some of these exotics are pretty flowering plants, many are also invasive and can become a significant threat to native species if not controlled.

By far the majority of the tree and shrub species listed are native to the United States, and display an interesting floristic mixture between species possessing:

northern, 
southern, 
midwestern, 
and even coastal affinities!

The High Knob Landform picks up additional floral species within its warmer, low elevations of northern Tennessee which are in opposition to the colder climate northern woods of upper elevations in the High Knob Massif and across the backbone of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

Numerous notably rare tree & shurb species occur within the High Knob Landform counties of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

American Barberry is considered to be very rare and imperiled within Tennessee.

Scott County, Va., is one of only seven counties along and west of the Blue Ridge to be listed with Blue Huckleberry on the Digital Atlas, a variety which is a distinct mountain disjunct that is most widespread across the Virginia Tidewater.

Dickenson County, Va., is the only county joining the High Knob Landform to currently be documented with locally rare Box Huckleberry.  
It is endangered in Maryland & Pennsylvania.

Bear ( Mountain ) Huckleberry was recently discovered in Cumberland Gap NHP to mark a state record for Kentucky, being significantly disjunct ( separated ) from populations observed within North Carolina and Tennessee.

Butternut or White Walnut is a rare and uncommon species in both Kentucky and Tennessee.

Highland Doghobble, a perennial evergreen shrub documented first by Dwight Peake during his floral study in majestic Little Stony Basin of the High Knob Massif, is a Virgina Natural Heritage Program ( VANHP ) critically imperiled to imperiled species in Virginia ( a very limited range in the state ).  
It is drought intolerant and requires very mesic settings.

Mountain or Wild Honeysuckle is listed as an endangered species in Kentucky, and is of special concern within Tennessee.

Bigleaf Magnolia, a VANHP critically imperiled species, has an even more limited distribution and is Atlas listed as being native to only Lee County in all of Virginia.

Bigleaf Magnolia, as it name might imply, has the largest leaves of any tree species in North America.  It was also documented during the Martin's Fork Wild River Study, within the northwestern flank of the High Knob Landform.

Bigleaf Magnolia is endangered at the northern and western fringes of its range.  It may also occur locally within portions of Wise County, along the northwestern flank of the High Knob Landform ].

Canby's Mountain-lover, a species of concern that is both globally and state imperiled, grows primarily on limestone or dolostone cliffs with northern exposures. It is a notable evergreen subshrub that is endangered in Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland, & Pennsylvania.  It is a species which is threatened in Kentucky.

Silverling is endangered in Kentucky and a threatened species of Tennessee.  It is very rare across far southwestern Virginia. 

Alderleaf Buckthorn is a extremely rare and critically imperiled species.

Smooth Azalea is a VANHP imperiled species that is listed on the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora for only Wise, Grayson, Carroll, and Giles counties in the western mountains.

Sandbar Willow is a extremely rare and critically imperiled species in Virginia, being at the eastern edge of its range.

Red Elderberry is a colorful tree of mid to upper elevations, and is listed as endangered in Kentucky and Illinois.

Red-twig Doghobble is a southern Appalachian endemic within the High Knob Massif area, to include the counties of Letcher & Harlan where its endangered in Kentucky.

Prairie Rose, or Climbing Rose, is a critically imperled species native to Virginia.  While having been so far found in half of the ten High Knob Landform counties, it has only been documented within six other Virginia counties. 

Virginia Spiraea is a globally threatened species that is a VANHP designated critically imperiled shrub in the commonwealth.  It is Atlas listed for only the counties of Wise, Dickenson, Grayson, and Carroll in Virginia.  Virginia Spiraea is endangered in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Ohio.

Snowberry is a shrub from the limestone woodlands of Lee and Russell counties that is a VANHP imperiled species.  Endangered in the states of Kentucky, Illinois, and Massachusetts, Snowberry is threatened in Maryland and presumed to be extirpated from Ohio.

Canada Yew is a rare, poisonous shrub that is known mostly from moist, cool microsites of the High Knob Massif area ( especially amid its leeside snow shadow zone ).  It is believed to be a Pleistocene relic that was once much more widespread throughout the Appalachians.  Today the High Knob Massif counties of Lee & Scott are near its southern most documented latitude, with only Pickett County in Tennessee being USDA listed with the species at a similar latitude ( along the Tennessee-Kentucky border ).

Northern White Cedar, or Arborvitae, is an evergreen tree of the karst terrain of the High Knob Landform counties that is locally rare.  It is endangered in Indiana, Massachusetts, and New Jersey; it is threatened in Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois, and Connecticut; and it is a species of special conservation concern in Tennessee.

Southern Mountain Cranberry, or Bearberry, is a shrub of the mountains of western Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and western North Carolina, with limited ranges in Tennessee.  It is listed as endangered in Kentucky.

Southern Mountain Cranberry grows in upper elevations of the High Knob Landform, and requires mesic conditions.

Possum Haw Viburnum occurs within all the High Knob Massif counties, but like many others is a species that becomes restricted in range outside the main core of the southern Appalachians.

Possum Haw Viburnum is endangered within Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

Alderleaved Viburnum, or Hobblebush, is a northern shrub which reaches its southern limit within the southern Appalachians.  It is also an endangered species in Kentucky and New Jersery.

Mountain Maple is an endangered species in Kentucky, with a KYNHP critically imperiled to imperiled status.  It grows in higher elevations of the mountains.

Allegheny Chinkapin is a threatened species in Kentucky, and is locally common within the High Knob Massif area.

The once great American Chestnut is now a relic, and basically restricted to the understory as sprouts and small trees.  Only very rarely does one find a native American Chestnut that will produce nuts.

American Chestnut was never a major component of forests within higher elevations of the High Knob Landform, as recognized by Lucy Braun in a former writing:


E. Lucy Braun...
"The Joyce Kilmer Forest in North Carolina contains a much higher percentage of chestnut than is found in the typical mixed mesophytic forest.

In the Great Smoky Mountains, mixed mesophytic forest occupies the coves & deeper valleys, chestnut is ( or rather was ) important over a much larger part of the mountain slopes than in the Cumberland Mountains."


American and Slippery Elm's are also much reduced by disease, as are Canadian Hemlocks by the raging Hemlock Wooly Adelgid infestation.

There are so many more tree and shrub species which could be commented upon across this landform.

Black Maples, for example, are found to be more typical over the karst terrain of the lower elevations within Scott, Lee, and Russell counties, and are likely within the Powell Valley of Wise County.

Trees intermediate in form between Black and Sugar maples, as previously noted, are reported by the Atlas of the Virginia Flora to also occur amid these karst valleys.

[ Black Maple is considered by Vascular Flora of the Carolinas to be very rare, but that is mostly due to karst topography being itself rare across western-central North Carolina where it is generally relegated to minor outcrops ].


Biodiversity Hotspot
Center of Ecological Diversity

Keokee Lake - Lee County, Virginia
Mountain Lakes of The High Knob Landform
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

E. Lucy Braun...
"The differentiation which we see today is the result not alone of existing conditions, but also of past history, climatic and physiographic.

The more or less gradual change in forest composition, from the area of mixed mesophytic forest outward in all directions, reflects the influence of past and present differences of environment."

The complete picture of the High Knob Landform, as documented by this website, will be one which takes into account much more than just its very impressive flora!

Map Adapted from:
Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States
Data from State Natural Heritage Programs and their cooperators.
Map produced by TNC Eastern
Conservation Science, GIS, 5/19/00.
Copyright © 2000, The Nature Conservancy.

This Nature Conservancy map which places the highest peak of biodiversity in the continental USA over the High Knob Landform ( HKL ), and Upper Tennessee River Basin, for the rarity and richness of limited range species will be supported over time by information presented on this website ( including adjoining sections of the Upper Cumberland Basin into which the HKL and Cumberland Overthrust Block reaches ).


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