RNA: Plott Cove
Established: 1978; Acres: 312 (126 ha)
To view Establishment records for Plott Cove RNA in PDF format, Click Here
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Ecological/Physical Description: The research area is located on the Chattahoochee National Forest in the north Georgia mountains which comprise the southern extension of the Appalachian Mountains. The feature that distinguishes Plott Cove is the abumdance of yellowwood (Cladratia lutea), butternut (Juglans cenerea), and silverbell (Halesia carolina) in the upper part of the cove. The area is 312 acres (126 ha) in size. At one time American chestnut (Castenea dentata) was a significant part of the stand. The general topography is rugged mountain country consisting of steep rocky mountain faces covered with dense forest. The area extends from the top of Buzzard Roost Ridge down a northern slope into Plott Cove. Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia is 2.5 miles to the east.
Physical and Climatic Conditions
Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA: Blairsville Experiment Station five miles to the west. Statistics for the area are based on data collected from 1931–1960.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution): Mean annual rainfall in Union County is 53.37 inches (135.56 cm). Precipitation is uniformly distributed throughout the year, with greatest amounts occurring in late winter and spring and the least during fall months. Snowfall in the area is light but not infrequent during winter months, and general y does not remain more than a week. Average yearly snowfall for the north Georgia mountain area is 5 inches (12.7 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures: The mean annual temperature in Union County is 53.3 degrees F (11.8 degrees C). The January mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 52 F (11.1 C) and 28 F, (2.22 C) respectively. The July mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 86 F (30 C) and 60 F (15.5 C) respectively. The average date of the last killing frost is April 26, and the average earliest killing frost is September 15, giving a growing season of 172 days.
Elevation: 3600 feet (1097 m) at the ridge top of Buzzard’s Roost.
Geology and Soils: The mountains of Georgia are considered to be in the Blue Ridge Physiographic and Geologic Province, characteristically mountainous with substantial relief consisting of late Precambrian-early Paleozoic (approximately 500-800 million years old) metasedimentary rocks. This overlays an older Precambrian (~1200 – 1000 million years old) basement complex of highgrade gneisses and associated granitic plutonic rocks. Plott Cove rocks are metamorphic. These geologic materials consist of biotite gneisses principally a siliconous, coarse grained crystalline metamorphized igneous rock and aluminous schists, specifically mica schist. Three soil series occur in Plott Cove. Porters series on Buzzard Roost, Tusquitee series below, and Fannin soils on higher elevations at the bottom of the cove.
Plant Communities: Northern Red Oak – Basswood – White Ash with silverbell, yellowwood, and butternut. At one time American chestnut (Castenea dentate) was a significant part of the stand. The large codominants include large specimens of basswood (Tilia americana), buckeye (Aesculus octandra), white oak (Quercus alba), and yellow–poplar (Liriodendron tulipfera).
Additional listings are found in the establishment record.
SAF Cover Types (list acres):
Northern Red Oak – Basswood – White Ash – 54
At Risk Species:
Common Shrub Species: Rhododendron maximum is abundant on top of the rock bluffs. Additional listings are found in the establishment record.
Common Herbaceous Species: Walking fern (Comptosorus pehiyophyllus), narrow leaved spleenwort (Athyrium pycnocarpon), both rare ferns, and dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia druion). Additional listings are found in the establishment record.
Common Mammal Species: The RNA lies above a typical mountain cove and supports wildlife species common to the region. Deer, squirrel, shrews, chipmunks. Rock shrew may be in the boulder fields at the top of the cove. Additional listings are found in the establishment record.
Common Bird Species: Wood thrush, Verry, Slate Colored Junco. Additional listings are found in the establishment record.
Related Reports and Publications:
Additional reports and publications can also be found by clicking on the “RNA Publications and Products” link in the site menu or by clicking here.
"The Area, Its Geology," Cenozic development of the Sothern Appalachians, The Distributional History of the Biota of the Southern Appalachians. Res. Div. Mono. #1 (part 1): Va. Polytechnic Institute Blocksburg, pp. 1-17.
The Natural Environments of Georgia – Part II, Georgia State University 1975
Climates of the States – Georgia, (Washington, D. C., U. S. Government Printing Office, 1969.
Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America (Hafner Publishing Company, 1967), pp 199–205.
"The tertiary character of the cove hardwood forests of the great Smokey National Park." Bull. Terr. Bot. Club, 1943. 70:213–35.
Georgia Birds, by Thomas D. Burleigh, 1958.
Last Modified: 9/29/2015 by Mary Mallinson Long (firstname.lastname@example.org)