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Cumberland Sandstone GLade and Barrens (Natureserve)


Exclusive to the Crab Orchard mountains in eastern Cumberland County, primarily in Cumberland County.

Vegettion Description

The communities are characterized by patchy, open rocky areas dominated by small herbs, with patches of larger shrubs and trees in areas with deeper soils.

Physical Characterization

The community is restricted to the upper portion to tops of steep slopes in the Crab Orchard Mountains, in lateral strips around 30m in width, ranging from 200m2 to 25,000m2 in total area, in the eastern portion of Cumberland County. It primarily occurs on the southern/south-eastern facing slopes. The sites are on Pennsylvanian age sandstone, primarily from the Pennington and Crab Orchard Mountain formations. The soils are made up of Ramsey-Rock outcrop complex, with a 12-20% slope, and is classified as somewhat excessively drained.

Natural Processes

The communities are maintained by exposure, keeping the soils to a minimum and preventing the invasion by and large woody plants.

Dominant Plants


Characteristic Plants


Restricted Plants


Invasive Species


Community Variation and Subtypes

-Bare Rock : Exposed sandstone bedrock,exclusively populated by lichen and moss species.
-Inter-rock spaces : Areas with shallow soil mainly dominated by herbaceous species.
-Woody Island : Spaces with deeper soil that have allowed shrubs and small trees to take root.
-Border : Border zone in which large trees have been able to take root, shading the surrounding area.

Associated Natural Communities

Southern Cumberland Plateau Dry/Xeric Sandstone Woodland

Similar Communities

Cumberland Sandstone Glade and Barrens

Pre-Settlement Distribution and Size

Lack of research means that there is very little understanding of this community's original size, or its current impact.

Present Status


Representative Sites

Southern Slope of Black Mountian
31 51’ 59.40” N   84 53’ 31.35” W


The Main threats to the community are development of the surrounding areas.

Management Considerations

The main management considerations are preventing destruction by human development.

Future Research Needs

The community is badly in need of research to understand proper management, as well as determining the present species.

Previous Studies


Species List