Valley Clayplain Forest

The Valley Clayplain Forest is a natural community in Vermont that occurs on clay soils in the Champlain Valley. It was the dominant forest type in the Champlain Valley prior to European settlement, but now is one of the most severely altered communities in Vermont (Thompson and Sorensen 2000). The clay soils of this forest type are deep and fertile, and lack the numerous stones that occur in glacial till-based soils that cover much of the state. Those attributes make the clay soils ideal for agriculture, especially when drained. Two variants of this natural community occur based on moisture and topography. The Mesic, or middle-moisture, Clayplain Forest, is better drained, and is preferred for agriculture. The Wet Clayplain Forest has more poorly drained soils, to the point that it is typically a wetland community, and often occurs in low pockets within the Mesic Clayplain Forest.

Soggy clay soils are sometimes less stable, and a high water table can discourage the deep rooting of trees because of reduced soil oxygen. As a result, wind throw is a common occurrence and the dominant disturbance type in clayplain forests. Tip-up mounds are a common sight, and the forest floor of an older Valley Clayplain Forest is often described as having "pit and mound" or "pillow and cradle" topography

Thompson, Elizabeth, and E.R.Sorenson. 2000. Wetland, Woodland, Wildland: A guide to the natural communities of Vermont.Hanover, NH: Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy.