Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest (Northern Coastal Plain-Piedmont)

Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest grows on slopes whose soils support northern spicebush, pawpaw, and spring wildflowers like mayapple. American beech, tuliptree, bitternut hickory, and northern red oak make up the canopy. (There is more than one type of Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest; this one is found in the northern Piedmont and Coastal Plain.)

This community occurs in sheltered ravines and slopes in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

The range map indicates states in which this natural community has been documented.

More About This Natural Community

This community grows in nutrient-rich soils, and may have a lush look compared to nearby natural communities. The canopy consists of American beech, tuliptree, bitternut hickory, and northern red oak. You’ll often find northern spicebush and pawpaw in the shrub layer. The field layer (low plants) is lush and diverse, and often contains mayapple and Christmas fern.

The soils in a Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest are enriched with basic elements, such as magnesium and calcium, which in some cases may be supplied by groundwater. Additionally, in the Piedmont, these elements may come from underlying bedrock rich in dark minerals such as biotite, hornblende, pyroxene, olivine, garnet, and others. In the Coastal Plain, basic minerals may be supplied by layers of ancient shells or limestone that underlie the forest.

For a more in-depth look at this community, click on a link under “Where to Explore It.”

Look for It in These National Parks

  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway
  • Monocacy National Battlefield
  • National Capital Parks – East
  • Rock Creek Park
  • Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Conservation Status

How vulnerable is a natural community? Is it at risk of elimination? Learn about conservation status.

Global Conservation Status: 
G4? – Apparently Secure? (Status uncertain)


Official names reduce confusion by providing a common language for talking about natural communities. Why so many names?

Common Name: 
Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest (Northern Coastal Plain-Piedmont)
Scientific Name Translated: 
American Beech – Tuliptree – Bitternut Hickory / Northern Spicebush / Mayapple Forest
Classification Code: