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Collections of vascular plants from five Southern Appalachian fens in and around Shady Valley, Johnson and Carter counties, Tennessee.

Abstract--Southern Appalachian fens are unique habitats that possess characteristics of both bogs and fens. Although such wetlands display some of the highest diversity values in the Southern Appalachian region and provide habitat for many rare plant species, they are frequently under-surveyed. The flora of five montane fens was surveyed in and around Shady Valley in Johnson and Carter counties, Tennessee. The resulting checklist contains 98 species representing 69 genera and 32 families, including eight species of ferns and 90 species of flowering plants. Four species are non-native. Two taxa represent new listings for Carter County and 16 taxa represent new listings for Johnson County. Ten species are currently listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern in Tennessee.


Southern Appalachian fens are unique habitats and possess characteristics of both bogs and fens. These wetlands typically have hydrologic regimes that resemble southern fens whereas their soil and water chemistry and plant communities resemble those of northern bogs. Moor-head and Rossell (1998) assert that fewer than 500 montane wetland sites exist in the southern Appalachian Mountains, with only eight known sites found in the Blue Ridge Province of eastern Tennessee. Although they display some of the highest diversity values within the Southeast United States, these wetlands are frequently overlooked and consequently under-surveyed because of their small size (typically 1 ha). Many of these areas are home to rare and endangered taxa that may be northern disjuncts, coastal plain species, or endemic to the Southern Blue Ridge. The purpose of this investigation was to document the flora of five fens in and around Shady Valley in northeastern Tennessee.

Materials and Methods

Study Areas--Shady Valley, Tennessee, is positioned within the Unaka mountain chain of the Blue Ridge Province at an elevation ranging from 847 m (2780 ft) at the valley floor to approximately 914 m (3000 ft) (Fig. 1). The valley itself is surrounded by Iron, Holston, and Cross mountains and is approximately 4 km wide and just over 11 km long (Fig. 1). Historically, the area was once a prime site for the natural occurrence of large cranberry (Vaccinium macro-carpon). Killebrew (1874) found Shady Valley a prime site for potential large-scale cranberry production. He noted the boggy soils and mentioned that "cranberries grow wild in every portion" of the valley. But in 1963, in an effort to promote agriculture, the valley was drained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through a series of large-scale channelization projects that facilitated quick removal of water from the landscape. Cranberries and other plant species disappeared along with their habitat, but persisted in isolated fens not disturbed by the channelization projects. More recent fen restoration efforts within the valley are due to the efforts of the Tennessee Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Five fens were selected for this investigation. These areas included John's Bog, Orchard Bog, Osborne Bog, Stoney Creek Bog, and Quarry Bog (Table 1, Fig. 1). (Although these sites are fens, we retain the use of the term "bog" as it reflects the actual name of these five sites.) Orchard Bog restoration area was once a natural cranberry fen but was heavily impacted by draining in the 1960s and by the development of agricultural farms across the valley. One section of Orchard Bog is referred to as "Orchard Bog Preserve." This small area, which maintains a thick Sphagnum sp. mat with a herbaceous plant community along its perimeter, is the area where we focused this investigation. Similarly, Quarry Bog has also been extremely impacted by agricultural run-off during the last century. Both Orchard Bog and Quarry Bog are owned or managed by TNC and are part of restoration efforts by INC. Osborne Bog and John's Bog are located in the Cherokee National Forest and are managed cooperatively by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)--Forest Service and INC. Osborne Bog is situated on a former cattle farm. It, like the other sites, has also been impacted by nutrient input from agricultural run-off and was affected by grazing cattle until the area was fenced in the mid-1980s (Stewart and Nilsen, 1993). John's Bog is maintained by the implementation of periodic controlled burns to further inhibit establishment of woody vegetation. Stoney Creek Bog is also found within the Cherokee National Forest and is managed by the USDA--Forest Service. Of the five fens we survey, it is located at the highest elevation.

Table 1. Locations and elevations for five fens in and near Shady
Valley, Johnson and Carter counties, Tennessee. Coordinates are
given in decimal degrees.

Bog       County  Quadrangle  Latitude  Longitude  Elevation  Size (ha)

John's   Johnson       Shady   36.5288   -81.9643       1060      0.61
Bog                   Valley         N          W

Orchard  Johnson       Shady   36.5109   -81.9446        853    0.40 *
Bog                   Valley         N          W

Osborne  Johnson         Doe   36.4881   -81.9651       1010      0.16
Bog                                  N          W

Stoney    Carter         Doe   36.2958   -81.5959       1255     < 1.0
Creek                                N          W

Quarry   Johnson       Shady   36.5289   -81.9203        853      2.53
Bog                   Valley         N          W

* Orchard Bog restoration area encompasses 67.6 ha. The area sampled
in this investigation was a smaller section referred to as the
"Orchard Bog Preserve" located within the restoration area.

Specimen Collection and Preparation--The vascular flora was observed and collected when in flower or fruit during walk-throughs at each site throughout the growing season from March to October 2008. Frequency of site visits increased during periods of increased flowering. All sites were visited once in March, twice each month from April to June, and three times each month from July through October at one-to two-week intervals. After collection, voucher specimens were prepared according to standard herbarium practice (Bridson and Forman, 1998), and then accessioned and deposited in the herbarium of Tennessee Technological University (HTTU). Three species, including Caltha palustris, Cypripedium acaule, and Platanthera ciliaris, were documented with photographs only. One specimen, Sparganium sp., was determined only to genus because it was collected while in flower but mature fruits are necessary to distinguish between species. We originally keyed this individual to S. chlorocarpum (now known as S. emersum) using Wofford (1989). The specimen was then sent to Dr. Robert Kay] at the University of Nebraska for verification. He agreed that it could potentially be S. emersum or S. americanum, but that it would be impossible to distinguish without mature fruit. Taxa were determined using Wofford (1989) and Radford et al. (1968). Nomenclature follows USDA, NRCS (2011) and synonyms from Wofford (1989) or Radford et al. (1968) are provided in the species list. Specifically, Radford et al. (1968) was used to determine the following: Carex gynandra Schwein Carex lurida Wahlenberg, Carex scoparia Schkuhr ex Wind., C. tribuloides Wahlenberg, C. vulpinoidea Michaux., Echinochloa crusgaili (L.) Beauvois, Eleocharis acicularis (L.) R. & S., Eleocharis tenuis (Willd.) Shultes var. tenuis, Eriopho rum virginicum L., Glyceria canadensis (Michx.) Trin. var. taxa (Scribner) Hitchcock, Glyceria striata (Lam.) Hitchcock, Habenaria ciliaris (L.) R. Br., Holcus lanatus L., Houstonia serphyllifolia Michx., Juncus subcaudatus (Engelm.) Coville and Blake, Leersia oryzoides (L.) Swartz, Panicum dichotomum L., Scirpus atrovirens Willd., and S. cyperinus (L.) Kunth.

Results and Discussion

Floristic Summary--A total of 98 species representing 69 genera and 32 families were collected from the five fen sites. There were eight species of ferns and 90 species of flowering plants, 29 of which were monocots and 61 of which were dicots. Four species were non-native, representing 4 A of the total species collected. Three families, Asteraceae (14 species), Cyperaceae (10 species), and Poaceae (9 species) accounted for 34% of the flora with 33 species total. The largest genus was Carex with seven species. The genera Lycopus, Polygonum, and Solidago each contained four species. Most species were found at only a single bog site; and only three species were found at two sites. Two taxa represented new listings for Carter County and 16 taxa represented new listings for Johnson County, based on data from the herbarium at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (TENN) (Table 2).

Table 2. Species included as new listings for Carter and Johnson counties, Tennessee.


Carter County


Eupatorium altissimum

Solidago lancifolia

Johnson County


Woudwardia virqinica


Achillea millefolium

Circaea lutetiana

Gillenia trifoliata

Lycopus uniflorus

Mimulus alatus

Myosoton aquaticum

Polygonum hydropiper

Polygonum lapathifolium

Potentilla canadensis

Vernonia gigantea


Carex tribuloides

Eleocharis aciculahs

Juncus subcaudatus

Scirpus atrovirens

Sorghastrum nutans

* Barclay (1957: 105) also documented Lycopus uniflorus in the ground cover from a Hemlock-White Pine forest type in Shady Valley, Johnson County, Tennessee.

Noteworthy Species--Ten species are currently listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern in Tennessee (Table 3). Five--Caltha palustris, Enophorum virginicum, Hypericum ellipticum, Solidago lancifolia, and Stellaria longifolia--are endangered. Dryopteris cristata and Vaccinium macrocarpon are threatened, while Cypripedium acaule, Glyceria taxa and Woodwardia virginica are of special concern (Table 3). No species is federally listed, but Solidago lancifolia is potentially rare and has a G3 global ranking (Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, 2008).

Table 3. Species listed as endangered (E), threatened (T), or
special concern (S) found in northeast Tennessee based on the
Tennessee Natural Heritage Program rare plant list.

Species      Collection      State           State          Global
              Site (*)   Status[dagger]  Rank[dagger]  Rank[dagger]
                               (1)             (2)           (3)


Dryopteris   OS          T               S2            G5

Woodwardia   OR          S               S2            G5


Caltha       QU          E               S1            G5

Hypericum    OS          E               S1            G5

Solidago     ST          E               S1            G3/G4 Q

Stellaria    QU          E               S1            G5

Vacciniurn   OR          T               S2            G4


Cypripedium  JO          S               S4            G5

Eriophorum   OR          E               S1/S2         G5

Glyceria     JO          S               S1            G5

* John's Bog (JO), Orchard Bog (OR), Osborne Bog (OS), Stoney
Creek Bog (ST), Quarry Bog (QU)
[dagger] Information for state status, state rank and global
rank is based on the Tennessee Natural Heritage Program rare
plant list (Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, 2008).
(1.) State Status: E = Endangered; T = Threatened; S = Special
(2.) State Rank; S1 = "Extremely rare and critically imperiled
in the state with five or fewer occurrences, or very few
remaining individuals, or because of some special condition
where the species is particularly vulnerable to extirpation
from Tennessee."; S2 = "Very rare and imperiled within the
state, six to twenty occurrences and less than 3000
individuals, or few remaining individuals, or because of some
factor(s) making it vulnerable to extirpation from Tennessee"
(Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, 2008).
(3.) Global Rank: G3 = "Very rare and local throughout its
range or found locally in a restricted range, or, because of
other factors, vulnerable to extinction throughout its range.
Generally between 21 and 100 occurrences and fewer than
10,000 individuals."; G4 = "Apparently secure globally,
though it may be quite rare in parts of its range,
especially at the periphery. Thus, the plant is of long-term
concern."; G5 = "Demonstrably secure globally, though it
might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the
periphery."; Q = "Taxonomic status is questionable, numeric
rank may change with taxonomy" (Tennessee Division of
Natural Heritage, 2008).

Several investigations have documented ferns from northeastern Tennessee. Smith and Pearman (1971) reported Dryopteris cristata, Osmunda cinnamomea, Osmunda regalis, Polystichum acrostichoides, and Thelypteris noveboracensis occurring in Carter and Johnson counties, Tennessee. Thelypteris palustris was documented by Jennison (1935) (Thelypteris palustris (Salisb.) Schott var. pubescens (Lawson) Fernald) from a collection by A. J. Sharp and J. K. Underwood in Shady Valley, Johnson County, in 1933. It was also reported to occur in Hunter Bog in Carter County by Smith and Pearman (1971) from a collection made by Grindstaff in 1956. Stewart and Nilsen (1993) listed Osmunda cinnamomea as having an importance value of 22 from a boggy site adjacent to Shady Valley in Johnson County. Even though they do not provide the name of this site, we are certain that ills the same area that we refer to as Osborne Bog given their site description, and we also report 0. cinnamomea from Osborne Bog in this investigation.

Several investigators have also documented flowering plants for Johnson and Carter counties. Jennison (1935) includes Caltha palustris as having been collected from Shady Valley swamp by A. J. Sharp and J. K. Underwood in 1934 and Vaccinium macrocarpon as also being collected from Shady Valley swamp by A. J. Sharp and J. K. Underwood in 1933. Again, Vaccinium macrocarpon is noted in Shady Valley as early as 1874 by Killebrew (Killebrew, 1874). Hypericum ellipticum was collected by A. J. Sharp and J. K. Underwood near Elizabethton in Carter County in 1933 (Jennison, 1935), but we found it in Osborne Bog in Johnson County in this investigation. Stewart and Nilsen (1993) include Rubus hispidus and Vaccinium macrocarpon as important shrubs and vines from their fen site near Shady Valley in Johnson County. They also include the graminoids Carex lurida, Eleocharis tenuis, and Holcus lanatus. We also found Rubus hispidus, Carex lurida, and Holcus lanatus in Osborne Bog. However, Eleocharis tenuis was collected from John's Bog in this study. Tabor (1976) reports finding Kalmia latifolia, Eriopho rum virginicum, Scirpus atrovirens, and Vaccinium macrocarpum among a few other species growing on a Sphagnum sp. mat in the understory of a fen in Shady Valley. We observed all of these species in Orchard Bog except for K. latifolia, which we found in Osborne Bog.

Floristic List--The following floristic list documents 98 species collected by Mark Mclntosh across the five fens sampled. The list is arranged by division. The classes Magnoliopsida and Liliopsida further distinguish dicots and mono-cots, respectively, within the Magnollophyta. Within each division and/or class, species are listed alphabetically by family followed by genus and specific epithet. An asterisk (*) preceding a scientific name indicates a non-native species. Each species listing is followed by the site of collection, county, and collector number. Synonyms are listed in parentheses. Abbreviations for the five fen sites follow in parentheses: John's Bog (JO), Orchard Bog (OR), Osborne Bog (OS), Stoney Creek Bog (ST), and Quarry Bog (QU). Even though they were not collected, Parnassia asarifolia Vent, was noted in Stoney Creek Bog during September 2008, as well as Medeola virginiana L. and Trautvetteria carolinensis (Walt.) Vail. Phalaris arundinacea L. was a dominant species in Orchard Bog. These species are not included in the floristic list and so are not included in the total list of taxa.





Woodwardia virgin/ca (L.) J. E. Smith, OR, Johnson, 56


Dryopteris cristata (L.) A. Gray, OS, Johnson, 33

Polystichum acrostichoides (Michx.) Schott, ST, Carter, 75


Osmunda cinnamomea L., OS, Johnson, 89

Osmunda regalis L., OS, Johnson, 29


Thelypteris noveboracensis (L) Nieuwl., OS, Johnson, 34; ST, Carter, 74

Thelypteris palustris Schott., OR, Johnson, 22


Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth subsp. asplenioides (Michx.) Hulten, ST, Carter, 88


Magnoliopsida (Dicots)


Oxypolis rigid/or (L.) Rat, JO, Johnson, 62


Achillea millefolium L., OR, Johnson, 13

Aster puniceus L., QU, Johnson, 71

Bidens frondosa L, OR, Johnson, 90

Erechtites hieracifolia (L.) Rat, JO, Johnson, 91

Eupatorium altissimum L., ST, Carter, 80

Eupatorium perfoliatum L., JO, Johnson, 45

* Hypochoeris radicata L., OS, Johnson, 93

Prenanthes roanensis (Chickering) Chickering, ST, Carter, 77

Solidago caesia L., ST, Carter, 73

Solidago canadensis L., QU, Johnson, 72

Solidago lancifolia (T. & G.) Chapman, ST, Carter, 79

Solidago rugosa Miller, JO, Johnson, 65

Verbesina alternifolia (L.) Britton, QU, Johnson, 42

Vernon a gigantea (Walt.) Trelease ex Branner & Coville, JO, Johnson, 47


Impatiens capensis Meerb. QU, Johnson, 68


Sambucus canadensis L., OS, Johnson, 12


Myosoton aquaticum (L.) Moench (syn: Stellaria aquatica (L.) Scopoli), OS, Johnson, 37

Stellaria longifolia Willd., QU, Johnson, 36


Hypericum ellipticum Hook., OS, Johnson, 21

Hypericum mutilum L., OS, Johnson, 97

Triadenum virginicum (L.) Raf., OR, Johnson, 44


Kalmia latifolia L., OS, Johnson, 20

Lyonia ligustrina (L.) DC., OS, Johnson, 30

Rhododendron maximum L., OS, Johnson, 19

Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait., OR, Johnson, 32


Collinsonia canadensis L., ST, Carter, 78

Lycopus americanus Muhl. ex Barton, OR, Johnson, 98

Lycopus rubellus Moench, OS, Johnson, 54

Lycopus uniflorus Michx., JO, Johnson, 27

Lycopus virginicus L., JO, Johnson, 25


Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume, JO, Johnson, 63


Linum striatum Walt., JO, Johnson, 64


Nyssa sylvatica Marsh., OR, Johnson, 57


Circaea lutetiana (L.) A. & M. subsp. canadensis (L.) A. & M., JO, Johnson, 60

Epilobium coloratum Biehler, OR, Johnson, 48; OS, Johnson, 53


Oxalis montana Rat. (syn: Oxalis acetosella L.), OS, Johnson, 11

Oxalis stricta L., JO, Johnson, 59


Polygonum hydropiper L., QU, Johnson, 69

Polygonum lapathifolium L., OS, Johnson, 39

Polygonum punctatum Ell., JO, Johnson, 46

Polygonum sagittatum L., OR, Johnson, 31

* Rumex acetosella L, JO, Johnson, 26


Lysimachia ciliata L., QU, Johnson, 40


Anemone quinquefolia L, OS, Johnson, 95

Caltha palustris L., OU, Johnson, no voucher/picture only


Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Ell., JO, Johnson, 61

Gillenia trifoliata (L.) Moench (syn: Porteranthus trifoliatus (L) Britt.), OS, Johnson, 52

Potentilla canadensis L., JO, Johnson, 7

Potentilla simplex Michx., ST, Carter, 15

Rosa palustris Marsh., JO, Johnson, 92

Rubus hispidus L., OS, Johnson, 38

Spiraea tomentosa L., OR, Johnson, 43


Gallurn tinctorium L. QU, Johnson, 70

Houstonia serpyllifolia Michx., JO, Johnson, 3


Salix sericea Marsh., OR, Johnson, 28


Chelone lyonii Pursh, OS, Johnson, 50

Mimulus alatus Ait., QU, Johnson, 67


Viola cucullata Aiton, JO, Johnson, 1

Viola hastata Michx., JO, Johnson, 10

Viola macloskeyi var. pal/ens (Banks ex Ging) M. S. Baker, JO, Johnson, 2

Liliopsida (Monocots)


Carex atlantica Bailey, JO, Johnson, 94

Carex gynandra Schwein., JO, Johnson, 23

Carex leptalea Wahlenberg, ST, Carter, 82

Carex lurida Wahlenberg, OS, Johnson, 24

Carex scoparia Schkuhr ex Willd., OR, Johnson, 4; JO, Johnson, 8

Carex tribuloides Wahlenberg, OR, Johnson, 83

Carex vulpinoidea Michaux., QU, Johnson, 41

Eleocharis acicularis (L.) R. & S, OS, Johnson, 55

Eleocharis tenuis (Willd.) Shultes var. tenuis, JO, Johnson, 5

Eriophorum virginicum L., OR, Johnson, 87

Scirpus atrovirens Willd., OR, Johnson, 84

Scirpus cyperinus (L.) Kunth., OR, Johnson, 86


Juncus effusus L., QU, Johnson, 14

Juncus gymnocarpus Coville, ST, Carter, 76

Juncus subcaudatus (Engelm.) Coville and Blake, JO, Johnson, 6


Maianthemum canadense Desf., OS, Johnson, 96


Cypripedium acaule Ait., JO, Johnson, no voucher/picture only

Platanthera ciharis (L.) Lindl. (syn: Habenaria ciliaris (L.) R. Br.), JO, Johnson, no voucher/picture only

Spiranthes lacera (Raf.) Raf. var. gracilis (Bigel.) Luer, JO, Johnson, 58


Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauvois, OS, Johnson, 49

Glyceria taxa (Scribn.) Scribn. (syn: Glyceria canadensis (Michx.) Inn. var. laxa (Scribner) Hitchcock), JO, Johnson, 9

Glyceria melicaria (Michx) Hubbard, St Carter, 81

Glyceria striata (Lam.) Hitchcock, OS, Johnson, 17

* Holcus lanatus L., OS, Johnson, 18

Leersia oryzoides (L.) Swartz, OR, Johnson, 85

Dichanthelium dichotomum (L.) Gould var. dichotomum (syn: Panicum dichotomum L. var. ramulosum (Torr.) Lelong), OS, Johnson, 51 (variety ramulosum determined using Wof-ford, 1989)

* Phleum pratense L., OS, Johnson, 16

Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash, QU, Johnson, 66


Sparganium LOU, Johnson, 35 (probably S. emersum Rehmann or S. americanum Nutt.)


The authors thank G. Call, C. McQueen, and L. Eastin of The Nature Conservancy and J. McGuiness of the USDA--Forest Service. We are grateful to R. Kaul for reviewing our Sparganium sp. specimen and to three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments regarding the manuscript.

Literature Cited

Barclay, F. H. 1957. The Natural Vegetation of Johnson County, Tennessee: Past and Present. PhD dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bridson, D.. and L. Forman (eds.). 1998. The Herbarium Hand-book. [3.sup.rd] ed. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England.

Jennison, H. M. 1935. Notes on some plants of Tennessee. Rhodora 37: 309-323.

Killebrew, J. B. 1874. Introduction to the Resources of Tennessee. Tavel, Eastman, and Howell, Nashville. Tennessee.

Moorhead, K. K., and I. M. Rossell. 1998. Southern mountain fens. Pp. 379-403 in Southern Forested Wetlands: Ecology and Management (M. G. Messina and W. H. Conner, eds.). Lewis Publishers/CRC Press, Boca Raton. Florida.

Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles, and C. R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Smith, C. R., and R. W. Pearman. 1971. A survey of the pteridophytes of Northeastern Tennessee. Castanea 36: 181-191.

Stewart, C. N., Jr., and E. T. Nilsen. 1993. Association of edaphic factors and vegetation in several isolated Appalachian peat bogs. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 120: 128-135.

Tabor, R. L. 1976. Notes on a small cranberry bog in Northeast Tennessee. Castanea 41: 88.

Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage. 2008. Tennessee Natural Heritage Program Rare Plant List. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Nashville, Tennessee.

USDA, NRCS. 2011. The PLANTS Database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Accessed 4 March 2011.

Wofford, B. E. 1989. Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Blue Ridge. The University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia.

Submitted 17 May 2011: accepted 29 September 2011.

C. T. Carter and M. G. McIntosh

Department of Biology. Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN 38505
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Author:Carter, C.T.; McIntosh, M.G.
Publication:Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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