The vegetation of Martha's Meadow (Berry College, Floyd County, GA) is distinct from that of surrounding flatwood areas and appears to be floristically similar to a limestone glade community. Limestone (cedar) glades of the southeastern United States are characterized by high species richness and diversity, calcareous soil, and up to 26 endemic or near-endemic indicator species. To describe the vegetation of Martha's Meadow and to determine its affinity to other limestone-based communities, a comprehensive species survey was augmented by quantitative surveys in May, July, and October of 2006. A total of 203 species in 56 families were identified, including nine limestoneassociated species designated as rare in the state of Georgia. Juniperus virginiana, a key species associated with glade communities, was important in both the overstory and the understory. Other important overstory species included Pinus taeda, Quercus shumardii, Q. muehlenbergii, and Ostrya virginiana. The perennial grass Danthonia spicata, the southeastern sedge Carex cherokeensis, and the herb Verbesina virginica, which is commonly associated with alkaline soils, were among the most important understory species, but no well-recognized limestone glade endemics were found. Two invasive grasses (Festuca subverticillata and Microstegium vimineum) were also among the most important understory species. Several ordination and clustering methods were used to compare the community structure of Martha's Meadow with data sets derived from other open calcareous and non-calcareous habitats throughout the southeastern and mid-western United States. Regardless of method, Martha's Meadow appeared to be most similar to several well-recognized Georgia limestone glades. While Martha's Meadow has some characteristics of edaphically determined limestone glades, it also lacks some characteristic traits (e.g., key limestone endemic species), making definitive classification tenuous. Evidence of on-going succession involving woody species suggests that the site might be best classified as a xeric limestone prairie (barrens) that requires disturbance or active management to maintain canopy openness and understory diversity.
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Vol. 12 • No. 2