Northern Cumberland Sandstone Glade
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Northern Cumberland Sandstone Glade


Cumberland Sandstone Glade and Barrens (Natureserve 2014)

Sandstone flatrock



Localized to North-central Tennessee, on the main portion of the Cumberland Plateau west of the Sequatchie valley. Primarily in Fentress, Cumberland, and Bledsoe counties.


Vegetation Description

The glades are characterized by an open herb dominated area, with patches of shrubs and tree species colonizing areas with deeper soil.

Physical Characterization

Primarily associated with Cumberland Plateau Pennsylvanian sandstone formations from the Crab Orchard, Fentress, and Rockcastle formations on the main plateau body. Soils are mainly excessively drained stony fine sandy loam. Most sites are located within 457-610 m (1500-2000 ft) elevation, with gently sloping to strongly sloping terrain (2-12%). The sites are distributed in small clusters, usually consisting of small strips ranging from 15-20 m in width, and 40-90 m in length. Average sites range from 0.027-0.16 ha (0.18-0.4 acres) in size.


Natural process

The communities have been historically surrounded by sparsely populated open forest, which has likely seem significant thickening in recent years due to fire suppression, although this has not likely caused significant encroachment onto the glades themselves.


Dominant Plants

The community edges are dominated by Pinus species, primarily Pinus echinata and P. virginiana. The small shrub layer is dominated by Vaccinium arboreum, and the majority of the herb layer is dominated by Shizachyrium scoparium and Cladonia carolineana.

Characteristic Plants

The primary characteristic plants are all found in the herb layer, consisting of Bigelowia nuttallii (Alabama/Georgia examples only), Eurybia surculosa, Liatris microcephala, and Phemeranthus teretifolius.


Restricted Plants

No restricted plants are known to this community type.

Invasive Species

Rumex acetosella has been found in within some previously surveyed glades, and Elaeagnus umbellata may be present within the community margins.


Community Variation and Subtypes


-tree/shrub islands

-open exposed lichen/bryophyte dominated glade

-deeper soil pockets dominated by alternating associtates of annual plants

-temporary pools and seeps


Associated Natural Communities

Southern Cumberland Plateau Dry/Xeric Sandstone Woodland


Similar Communities

Central Interior Highlands Dry Acidic Glade and Barrens


Presettlement Distribution and Size

75% of original outcrop probably extant, although the surrounding forests have likely thickened from their historic state due to fire suppression.


Present Status

Seven examples were able to be found using satellite imagery.



Representative Sites

Fentress County, Near Jamestown Reservoir

Lat 36.428210  Lon -84.840524



The main threats to the community are encroachment by the surrounding woodlands and destruction by human activity from sandstone quarrying, and ATV traffic. In the future invasive species may become problematic but most are relatively secure presently. Some glades have been used as trash dumping sites.


Management Considerations

The primary management needs are protecting the sites human interference, primarily from ATV trails, as well as preventing use as a trash dumping site.


Future Research Needs

The role of fire in affecting the community and surrounding forest is in need of further study, so that the effects of fire suppression can be fully understood.

Prior Studies

Perkins, B 1980

Mapped and completed a floristic inventory of sandstone glades on the Cumberland plateau.



NatureServe. 2014. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed: February 12, 2015 )


Perkins, B. (1981). Vegetation of Sandstone Outcrops of the Cumberland Plateau.. (Master's thesis).


Web Soil Survey. 12 Feb. 2015. <>


Species List


Acer rubrum

Carya glabora

Carya ovata

Carya tomentosa

Chionathus virginicus

Cornus florida

Crataegus sp.

Diospyros virginiana

Fraxinus americana

Ilex opaca

Liquidambar styraciflua

Nyssa sylvatica

Oxydendrum arboretum

Pinus strobus

Pinus taeda

Pinus virginiana

Prunus serotina

Pyrus sp.

Quercus alba

Quercus coccinea

Quercus falcata

Quercus marylandica

Quercus prinus

Quercus rubra

Quercus stellata

Quercus velutina

Sassifras albidium

Tsuga canadensis

Ulmus alata




Castanea pumila

Epigea repens

Euonymus sp

Gaultheria procumbens

Gaylussacia baccata

Gaylussacia brachycera

Hypericum stragalum

Kalmia latifolia

Opuntia compressa

Potentilla canadensis

Rhododendron maxima

Rhus copallina

Rubus flagellaris

Sorbus arbutifolia

Vaccinium arboreum

Vaccinium corymbosum

Vaccinium stamineum

Vaccinium vacillians

Vaccinium sp.




Aster dumosus

Aster hemisphericus

Aster spp.

Aster surculosus

Bidens frondosa

Bigelowia nuttallii

Chimaphila maculata

Clitoria mariana

Coreopsis major

Coreopsis pulchra

Crotonopsis elliptica

Cunila origanoides

Cuscuta harperi

Cypripedium acaule

Desmodium ciliare

Erigeron canadensis

Euonymus rotundafolium

Euonymus sessilifolium

Euphorbia corollata

Gillenia trifoliata

Gnaphalium obtusifolium

Helianthus longifolius

Heterotheca nervosa

Hexastylis contracta

Hieracium gronovii

Hieracium venosum

Houstonia caerulia

Hypericum denticulatum

Hypericum gentianoides

Hypericum sp.

Krigia dandelion

Lechea sp.

Lespedeza hirta

Lespedeza procumbens

Lespedeza repens

Liatris microcephala

Lobelia nuttallii

Lycopus virginicus

Malaxis unifolia

Mitchella repens

Plantago aristata

Polygonatum biflorum

Polygaga curtisii

Pycnathemum incanum

Pycnathemum multicum

Ranunculus recurvatus

Rhexia mariana

Rhexia sp.

Rhexia virginica

Rumex acetosella

Schoenolirion croceum

Scutellaria elliptica

Sedum smallii

Seneco smallii

Seymeria cassioides

Solidago caesia

Solidago erecta

Solidago nemoralis

Solidago odora

Sonchus asper

Spiranthes gracilis

Stellaria media

Stylosanthes biflora

Talinium teretifolium

Tephrosia virginiana

Trichostema dochotomum

Valerianella radiata

Veronica arvensis



Graminoid Herbs

Agrostis elliottiana

Agrostis hyemalis

Agrostis perennans

Agrostis stolonifera

Andropogon ternarius

Anropogon virginicus

Aristida longespeca

Bulbostylis capillaris

Carex complanata

Chasmanthium sessiliflorum

Danthonia sericea

Danthonia spicata

Elymus virginicus

Eragrostis spectabilis

Fimbristylis dichotoma

Hypoxis hirsuta

Juncus sp.

Panicum bicknellii

Panicum commutatum

Panicum dichotomun

Panicum lanuginosum

Panicum sphaerocarpon

Panicum villosissimum

Rhynchospora globularis

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sporobolus sp.

Stipa avenacea



Aulacominium palustre

Campylopus flexuosus

Campylopus pilifer

Campylopus tallulensis

Cladina arbusula

Cladina rangiferina

Cladina subtenuis

Cladonia caespiticia

Cladonia capitata

Cladonia caroliniana

Cladonia chlorophaea

Cladonia coniocraea

Cladonia cristatella

Cladonia cryptochlorophaea

Cladonia dimorphoclada

Cladonia floerkeana

Cladonia furcata

Cladonia grayi

Cladonia leporina

Cladonia merochlorophea

Cladonia parasitica

Cladonia piedmontensis

Cladonia squamosa

Cladonia strepsilis

Cladonia subcariosa

Cladonia uncialis

Cladonia verticilliata

Dicranum condensatum

Dicranum scoparium

Dicranum spurium

Dimelaena oreina

Grimmia laevigata

Hypnum curvifolium

Lasallia papulosa

Leucobryum albidum

Mnim sp.

Polytrichum commune

Polytrichum juniperium

Pycnothelia papillaria

Sphagnum subsecundum

Sphagnum cyclophyllum

Thuidium delicatulum

Usnea sp.

Xanthoparmelia consperosa