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Blue Ridge Quartzite Blockfield

Blue Ridge Low-elevation Boulderfield (Natureserve)

Eastern Tennessee, primarily in Jefferson and Blount Counties.

Vegetation Description
Due to the complete lack of soil, vascular plants are mostly unable to colonize. Vining plants and small shrubs may be able to colonize the outer borders, but only lichens are able to inhabit the open areas.

Physical Characterization
Blockfield communities are primarily composed of large unassociated rocks, preventing any real soil deposition and plant growth. They occur on Ramsey-Rock outcrop complex soils at 335- 975 m (1100-3200 ft), on Chilhowee group Nebo sandstone. They average 0.11 hectares in size.

Natural Process
Historically, blockfield communities are thought to have been formed by periglacial activity during the last ice age. Due to the lack of vascular plant growth, soil deposition is minimal except on the borders with the surrounding forests.

Dominant Plants

Characteristic Plants

Restricted Plants

Invasive Species

Community Variation Subtypes
The communities consist of main block field body, which is unvegetated and primarily colonized by lichens on the rocks, and the borders which consist of vining plants and small shrubs which are able to take root in the shallow soils there.

Associated Natural Communities
Ridge and Valley Sandstone Blockfield

Similar Communities
Ridge and Valley Sandstone Blockfield
Low-Elevation Boulderfield Forests and Woodlands
Blue Ridge Granite Blockfield

Pre-settlement Distribution and Size
Due to their locations, the communities have likely not faced significant reduction from their historic size.

Present Status
Due to the locations and relative difficulty of development, these communities have not likely seen much reduction from their historic size.

Representative Sites
Blount County: Lower slope of Chilhowee Mountain (35.734672°, -83.816312°)

These communities are currently not faced with any known threats.

Management Considerations
Protection from human development and recreational destruction is the primary management concern

Future Research Needs

Previous Studies

NatureServe. 2014. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web
        application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available
        http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed: May 29, 2015).

Soil Survey Staff, Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department
        of Agriculture. Web Soil Survey. Available online at
        http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/. Accessed [04/29/2015].

Virginia Natural Heritage Program. http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/natural_communities/ncoverview.shtml (Accessed May 3, 2015)