Habitats of North Carolina
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Members of General Shrublands:
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General Shrublands
Sweetleaf Thickets
No image for this habitat.
Habitat Overview Thickets of Sweetleaf (or Horse Sugar) occur in a wide variety of land forms, soil types, moisture regimes, and fire frequencies. They are most common in the Coastal Plain, where they range from peatland edges to fairly dry sandhills. They also occur in bottomlands, mesic slopes, bluffs, and ridgetops over most of the state (see Weakley, 2015; LeGrand and Sorrie, 2019).

The main habitat requirement for the insect members of this group is the presence of Sweetleaf, the sole host plant of their larvae. All three of the known Symplocos specialists occur across the entire geographic range of Sweetleaf in North Carolina, but it is not clear whether they all occupy the entire range of ecological conditions that support their host plant.

Related NHP Natural Communities Symplocos is listed as an important component of the following natural communities (Schafale, 2019): Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (Piedmont Subtype), Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (Coastal Plain Subtype), Basic Mesic Forest (Piedmont Subtype), Piedmont/Coastal Plain Heath Bluff, Dry-Mesic Oak-Hickory Forest (Coastal Plain Subtype), Piedmont Monadnock Forest (Heath Subtype), Xeric Piedmont Slope Woodland, Dry Piedmont Longleaf Pine Forest, Sandhill Seep (Wet Subtype).
Determining Species
Taxa Global RankState RankProbability of Extirpation (PE)
Cenopis lamberti GNRS2S40.0058
Morrisonia triangula G3G4S3S40.0020
Satyrium kingi - King's Hairstreak G3G4S3S40.0020
Symplocos tinctoria - Common Sweetleaf G5S50.00
Expected Number of Extirpations with a PE value (Sum of PE) = 0.0098
N = Number of Extant Species with a PE value = 3
Average PE = ENE/N = 0.0033
Number of S5 species = 1
Proportion of Secure Species = Number of S5 Species/N = 0.3333
Habitat Risk Index = ENE x (1 – PSS) = 0.0065

Phagic and Competitory Symbioses: (Symplocos tinctoria/Cenopis lamberti-Morrisonia triangula-Satyrium kingi)
Candidates for Inclusion A species of Palpita may be monophagous on Symplocos (J.B. Sullivan, pers. obs.)
Habitat Sub-sets All members of this habitat occur throughout its range in North Carolina: none appear to have specialized habitat needs not shared by all of the group.
Distribution Map
Distribution Symplocos itself has an odd distribution and range of habitat characteristics. King's Hairstreak, the best known insect member of this habitat appears to have a low constancy, occurring regularly at some sites but never seen at others. The same may also be true of the two moth members of this habitat, although there is currently too little data to determine their actual frequencies of occurrence or their abundance.
Survey Coverage Map
Survey Coverage
Survey Priorities
Average Imperilment of Habitat Members
Habitat Conservation Status
High Quality Habitat Occurrence Table
High Quality Habitat Occurrences
Protected Habitat Occurrences
Threats and Trends
Status Summary
Stewardship Recommendations
Updated on 2019-09-12 14:29:58