Eastern Hemlock - Hardwood Forest (Piedmont-Coastal Plain)

Park specific natural communities coming soon.

The Eastern Hemlock - Hardwood Forest occupies cool and shady north-facing slopes. The canopy of tall trees includes American beech, white oak, and chestnut oak. Sadly, most of the eastern hemlock in the canopy is dying out due to a non-native insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid. (There is more than one type of Eastern Hemlock - Hardwood Forest; this one is found in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.)

This natural community is found on steep, north-facing sites along rivers and large streams in the Piedmont, and rarely the inner Coastal Plain, of Virginia and Maryland.

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

More About This Natural Community

Common trees in this cool and shady natural community are American beech, white oak, chestnut oak, tuliptree, northern red oak, red maple, and blackgum. Tragically, in most stands the eastern hemlock in the canopy are dying due to the hemlock woolly adelgid. Eastern hemlock can still be found in the understory.

Due to the deep shade and infertile soil of this community, there aren’t a lot of shrubs or low plants growing beneath the large trees. The sparse shrub layer includes American witch-hazel, mapleleaf viburnum, mountain laurel, and pink azalea. On the forest floor, look for Christmas fern and white wood-aster. As mature eastern hemlock die and drop their needles, the understory can become less deeply shaded, and other understory species can move in.

The Eastern Hemlock - Hardwood Forest occurs on steep north-facing slopes, typically overlooking a river or stream. The underlying bedrock supplies few soil-enriching minerals. Consequently, soils in this natural community are usually very acidic.

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

  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park
  • Prince William Forest Park

Conservation Status

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

Global Conservation Status: 
G2G3 – Imperiled to Vulnerable


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

Common Name: 
Eastern Hemlock - Hardwood Forest (Piedmont-Coastal Plain)
Scientific Name Translated: 
Eastern Hemlock - American Beech - (Chestnut Oak, White Oak) Forest
Classification Code: