Habitats of North Carolina
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Members of General Shrublands:
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General Shrublands
Laurel Shrublands
Habitat Overview This habitat is based on complex of herbivores and an entire family of plants, the Lauraceae (true Laurels, which do not include Mountain Laurel), upon which they specialize. Presumably, the alkaloids and other secondary chemicals produced the different genera within this family are similar enough that the herbivores can feed on two or more of the them. For example, Spicebush Swallowtail larvae feed on both Lindera species and on Sassafrass; Palamedes Swallowtail larvae feed on both Persea species and may also use Sassafrass.

This complex is also united by the threat posed by a introduced species complex, the Red Bay Ambrosia Beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) and the Laurel Wilt fungus (Raffaelea lauricola) that is actively transported and farmed by the beetle. In this case, most, if not all of our native species of Lauraceae are vulnerable to the attacks by this complex.

The main habitat factor for this group is the presence of any member of the Lauraceae. In terms of physical factors, this includes an extremely wide spectrum, ranging from dry, sandy uplands to very wet, acidic peatlands and swamp forests.

Related NHP Natural Communities This habitat intersects a wide range of NHP Natural Communities (Schafale and Weakley, 1990; Schafale, 2012). Most of the Lauraceae members are associated with wet or mesic conditions. Northern Spicebush occurs across the state as significant components of the shrub layer of alluvial forests, including: Montane Alluvial Forest, Piedmont Alluvial Forest, Piedmont Levee Forest, Low Elevation Seep, Hillside Seepage Bog, and Brownwater Levee Forest. Southern Spicebush is more restricted, occurring in peatland habitats in the Sandhills: Streamhead Pocosin, Streamhead Atlantic White Cedar Forest, and Piedmont Boggy Streamhead. Pondberry and Pondspice are both confined to the depressional wetlands in the Coastal Plain, including the Small Depression Shrub Border community type. Swamp Redbay occupies a wide range of both peatlands, swamp forests, and Coastal Plain examples of mesic and drier hardwoods: Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest, Dry-Mesic Oak-Hickory Forest, Maritime Shrub, Maritime Evergreen Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest, Coastal Fringe Evergreen Forest, Blackwater Bottomland Hardwoods, Cypress–Gum Swamp, Sandhill Streamhead Swamp, Nonriverine Swamp Forest, Peatland Atlantic White Cedar Forest, Bay Forest, Small Depression Pocosin, Small Depression Shrub Border, Natural Lake Shoreline Swamp, Maritime Shrub Swamp, and Tidal Freshwater Marsh. Upland Redbay occurs mainly in sandy maritime and tidewater hardwood forests, primarily Swamp Island Evergreen Forest and Maritime Evergreen Forest.

The one plant species in this habitat that occurs more abundantly in succssional habitats than in mature natural communities is Sassafras. It occurs esentially statewide in shrubby old fields and other disturbed areas as well as a variety of forests. None of the NHP Natural Communities appear to include significant amounts of this species (not listed by Schafale, 2012).
Determining Species
Taxa Global RankState RankProbability of Extirpation (PE)
Caloptilia sassafrasella - Sassafras Caloptilia Moth GNRS3S50.0007
Cenopis saracana GNRSU0.0020
Cryptaspasma bipenicilla GNRS2S30.0164
Phaecasiophora niveiguttana - Labyrinth Moth GNRS3S50.0007
Phyllocnistis hyperpersea GNRS1S30.0460
Phyllocnistis subpersea GNRS1S20.1284
Lindera benzoin - Northern Spicebush G5S50.000000000
Lindera melissifolia - Pondberry G3S10.3584
Lindera subcoriacea - Bog Spicebush G3S20.0460
Litsea aestivalis - Pondspice G3S2S30.0164
Persea borbonia - Upland Redbay G5S20.0460
Persea palustris - Swamp Redbay G5S50.000000000
Sassafras albidum - Sassafras G5S50.000000000
Pterourus palamedes - Palamedes Swallowtail G4S40.0007
Pterourus troilus - Spicebush Swallowtail G5S50.000000000
Expected Number of Extirpations with a PE value (Sum of PE) = 0.7
Number of Extant Species with a PE value (N) = 11
Average PE = ENE/N = 0.060
Number of S5 species = 4
Proportion of Secure Species = Number of S5 Species/N = 0.3636
Habitat Risk Index = ENE x (1 – PSS) = 0.4

Phagic and Competitory Symbioses: (Sassafras albidum/Caloptilia sassafrasella-Cenopis saracana-Phaecasiophora niveiguttana) // (Sassafras albidum-Lindera benzoin/Papilio troilus) // (Sassafras albidum-Persea species/Palamedes Swallowtail) // (Persea species/Cryptaspasma bipenicilla-Phyllocnistis hyperpersea-Phyllocnistis subpersea)

While the Red Bay Ambrosia Beetle and Laurel Wilt fungus are found only in association with members of the Lauraceae in North Carolina, as exotic species, without any established ecological controls, they are not counted as members of this habitat. Their presence within a given stand should actually be given a high negative value in terms of their reflection on the quality and/or viability of the occurrence.

Candidates for Inclusion
Habitat Sub-sets
Distribution Map
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
References Best G.S., Fraedrich S.W. 2018. An assessment of the potential impact of laurel wilt on clonal populations of Lindera melissifolia (Pondberry). Southeastern Naturalist 17(4):616-29.

Gezon, Z.J., Braatz, E.Y., Duxbury, C., Savage, A. and Daniels, J.C., 2019. Long-term trends in Persea palustris and Lauraceae-dependent butterfly species in central Florida before and after the introduction of laurel wilt disease. Journal of Insect Conservation, 23(2):341-350.
Updated on 2020-02-18 23:13:08