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An oak-heath forest is a plant community association and type of forest ecology. It is a deciduous forest type of well-drained, acidic soils, characterized by oaks (Quercus) and plants of the heath family, Ericaceae.[1] It is commonly found in the high elevations of the eastern United States.[citation needed] Such forest areas typically have a dense fibrous root layer at the surface of the soil, and in many areas predominate on south-facing or southwest-facing slopes.[citation needed] Many of the existing oak-heath forests once featured American chestnut as an important canopy species.[2]


Oaks (Quercus) characteristic of an oak-heath associations include white oak, Quercus alba; black oak, Quercus velutina; scarlet oak, Quercus coccinea; chestnut oak, Quercus prinus, and red oak, Quercus rubra.[2][3]


Heath plants common to this ecology include mountain-laurel, Kalmia latifolia, various blueberries, genus Vaccinium, huckleberries, genus Gaylussacia, sourwood (or sorrel-tree), Oxydendron arboreum, and azaleas and rhododendrons, genus Rhododendron. These are all usually shrubs, except for Oxydendron, which is usually a small tree. There are also heaths that are sub-shrubs, usually trailing on the ground, including teaberry, Gaultheria procumbens and trailing arbutus, Epigaea repens.[2][3]


  1. ^ "Coastal Buffer Zone Planting Guide" (PDF). Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. August 2008. p. 8. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
  2. ^ a b c The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010 Archived January 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Schafale, M. P. and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.