Small Stream Floodplain Forest (Northern Piedmont)

Small Stream Floodplain Forest grows along streams in the Piedmont from Maryland to Virginia. Frequent flooding brings rich deposits of soil that benefit floodplain trees including tuliptree, and the wildflowers and other plants here such as Jack-in-the-pulpit, jumpseed, northern spicebush, and American hornbeam.

The Small Stream Floodplain Forest is found in the Piedmont of Maryland and Virginia. It occupies floodplains and terraces of streams that would be described in everyday language as large streams or small rivers. (In a technical sense, “stream” can describe any body of flowing water, even rivers.)

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

More About This Natural Community

The first step to recognizing this natural community is to recognize its setting—the floodplains of streams. When streams overflow, they flood these areas and deposit sediment from upstream. The canopy of the Small Stream Floodplain Forest is dominated by tuliptree in variable combinations with other trees such as red maple and box-elder. You may also see American sycamore trees and American hornbeam. Eastern poison-ivy vines are common, so watch out! The field layer (low plants) is diverse and may include jumpseed and orange jewelweed. It may also be overrun with non-native plants because this type of habitat is fertile and has been frequently disturbed not only by flooding and sedimentation, but by human use as well—including farming and grazing, utility corridors, recreation, and development. Non-native Japanese stiltgrass* is often abundant.

Soils are generally silts, sands, and clays deposited by floods. 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

  • Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
  • Booker T. Washington National Monument
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park
  • Rock Creek Park
  • Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

Conservation Status

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

Global Conservation Status: 
G4 – Apparently Secure


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

Common Name: 
Small Stream Floodplain Forest (Northern Piedmont)
Scientific Name Translated: 
Tuliptree - Box-elder - (American Sycamore) / American Hornbeam / Jumpseed Floodplain Forest
Classification Code: