Natural Communities of New Hampshire

This complete list of the natural communities of New Hampshire contains links to pages with descriptions and photographs of each community type. On each page, the community's state rank is listed in parentheses after the name. The organization follows the same general pattern as the 2011 Natural Communities of New Hampshire technical manual, but this list also contains numerous revisions. (see also Photo Guide to NH Natural Community Systems)

Open Uplands

Alpine and subalpine communities

Alpine herbaceous snowbank and other wet-mesic alpine communities
Alpine herbaceous snowbank/rill
Moist alpine herb - heath meadow
Alpine ravine shrub thicket

Dwarf shrub - sedge - rush meadows and shrublands
Alpine heath snowbank
Bigelow’s sedge meadow
Sedge - rush - heath meadow
• Subalpine dwarf shrubland  (formerly: dwarf shrub - bilberry - rush barren)
Diapensia shrubland

Krummholz and heath - krummholz
Black spruce - balsam fir krummholz
Labrador tea heath - krummholz
Sheep laurel - Labrador tea heath - krummholz

Alpine/subalpine bogs and subalpine heath snowbanks (see also: Peatlands section)
Alpine/subalpine bog  (formerly: wet alpine/subalpine bog)
Wooded subalpine bog/heath snowbank
Subalpine sloping fen  (formerly: subalpine sliding fen)

Sparsely vegetated alpine and subalpine communities
Felsenmeer barrens
Subalpine rocky bald

Landslides and talus barrens

• Montane landslide barren and thicket  (formerly: montane landslide)
Montane lichen talus barren
Temperate lichen talus barren


• Montane - subalpine acidic cliff  (formerly: montane acidic cliff and alpine cliff)
Montane - subalpine circumneutral cliff  (formerly: montane circumneutral cliff)
Temperate acidic cliff  (formerly: lowland acidic cliff)
• Temperate circumneutral cliff  (formerly: lowland circumneutral cliff)

Coastal dunes and inland beach strands

Open coastal dune communities
Maritime sandy beach
Beach grass grassland
Bayberry - beach plum maritime shrubland
Hudsonia maritime shrubland

Inland beach strands
Hudsonia inland beach strand

Wooded Uplands

Spruce - fir zone

Spruce - fir forests
High-elevation spruce - fir forest
High-elevation balsam fir forest
Montane black spruce - red spruce forest
Lowland spruce - fir forest

Wooded talus slopes
• Spruce - moss wooded talus  (formerly: spruce - birch - mountain maple wooded talus)
Birch - mountain maple wooded talus  (formerly: spruce - birch - mountain maple wooded talus)
• Subalpine cold-air talus shrubland  (formerly: subalpine cold-air talus barren)

Wooded rocky ridges and outcrops
Red spruce - heath - cinquefoil rocky ridge
Montane heath woodland
Jack pine rocky ridge  (formerly: jack pine rocky ridge woodland)
Red pine rocky ridge
Circumneutral rocky ridge

Northern and transition hardwood - conifer zone

Acidic, primarily nutrient-poor forests
Northern hardwood - spruce - fir forest
Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch forest
Hemlock - spruce - northern hardwood forest
Hemlock forest
Beech forest
Hemlock - white pine forest
Hemlock - oak - northern hardwood forest  (formerly: hemlock - beech - northern hardwood forest)
Hemlock - beech - oak - pine forest
Northern white cedar forest/woodland

Enriched forests
Semi-rich mesic sugar maple forest
Rich mesic forest

Oak - pine zone

Dry forests and woodlands
Forests and woodlands on glacial till, terraces, dunes, or sand plains
Dry red oak - white pine forest
Dry Appalachian oak forest  (formerly: dry Appalachian oak - hickory forest)
Pitch pine - Appalachian oak - heath forest
Maritime wooded dune
Pitch pine - scrub oak woodland
• Red pine - white pine forest  (formerly: red pine - white pine - balsam fir forest)
Mixed pine - red oak woodland
Forests and woodlands on rocky ridges, talus, or coastal headlands
Red oak - pine rocky ridge
Pitch pine rocky ridge
Appalachian oak - pine rocky ridge
Chestnut oak forest/woodland
Coastal rocky headland

Mesic and dry-mesic nutrient-poor forests and woodlands
Mesic Appalachian oak - hickory forest
Oak - mountain laurel forest  (formerly: Appalachian oak - mountain laurel forest)
• Appalachian wooded talus  (formerly: red oak - hickory wooded talus)
Red oak - black birch wooded talus

Enriched forests and woodlands
Forests on glacial till or river terraces
• Semi-rich oak - sugar maple forest  (formerly: semi-rich Appalachian oak - sugar maple forest)
Forests and woodlands on rocky ridges, colluvial slopes, or talus
Rich Appalachian oak rocky woods
Rich red oak rocky woods
Red oak - ironwood - Pennsylvania sedge woodland

Wooded Wetlands and Floodplain Forests

Floodplain forests

Floodplain forests of major rivers
Silver maple - wood nettle - ostrich fern floodplain forest
Silver maple - false nettle - sensitive fern floodplain forest
Sugar maple - ironwood - short husk floodplain forest
Sugar maple - silver maple - white ash floodplain forest

Floodplain forests of minor rivers
Swamp white oak floodplain forest
Sycamore floodplain forest
Red maple floodplain forest
Balsam fir floodplain/silt plain

Boggy nutrient-poor swamps

Red maple and coastal conifer swamps primarily of central or southern NH
Atlantic white cedar - yellow birch - pepperbush swamp
Inland Atlantic white cedar swamp
Atlantic white cedar - leatherleaf swamp
Atlantic white cedar - giant rhododendron swamp
Red maple - Sphagnum basin swamp
Black gum - red maple basin swamp
Swamp white oak basin swamp
Pitch pine - heath swamp

Conifer swamps primarily of central or northern NH
Black spruce swamp  (formerly: black spruce - larch swamp)

Minerotrophic swamps

Red maple and coastal conifer swamps of central and southern NH
Red maple - black ash swamp  (formerly: red maple - black ash - swamp saxifrage swamp)
Red maple - lake sedge swamp
Red maple - sensitive fern swamp
Seasonally flooded Atlantic white cedar swamp
Seasonally flooded red maple swamp

Northern conifer and hardwood swamps of central and northern NH
Northern hardwood - black ash - conifer swamp
Northern white cedar - balsam fir swamp
Acidic northern white cedar swamp
Northern white cedar seepage forest
Northern white cedar - hemlock swamp
Red spruce swamp
Northern hardwood seepage forest
• Larch - mixed conifer swamp  (formerly: black spruce - larch swamp)

Other forests with a seasonally high water table
Hemlock - cinnamon fern forest
Red maple - elm - lady fern silt forest
Red maple - red oak - cinnamon fern forest
Red maple - pitch pine - cinnamon fern forest

Forest seeps

Acidic Sphagnum forest seep
Subacid forest seep
Circumneutral hardwood forest seep

Open Wetlands and Riparian Communities

Open river channels, riverbanks, and floodplains
River channels and low riverbanks
Riverweed river rapid
Hudsonia - silverling river channel
Dwarf cherry river channel
Boulder - cobble river channel
Cobble - sand river channel
Willow low riverbank
Twisted sedge low riverbank
Mesic herbaceous river channel  (formerly: herbaceous low riverbank and herbaceous sandy river channel)

Medium to high riverbanks and floodplains
Herbaceous and mixed herbaceous - woody
Herbaceous riverbank/floodplain
Bluejoint - goldenrod - virgin’s bower riverbank/floodplain
Alder alluvial shrubland
Alder - dogwood - arrowwood alluvial thicket
Meadowsweet alluvial thicket
• Mixed alluvial shrubland  (formerly: Alluvial mixed shrub thicket)

Riverbank outcrops, riverside seeps, and river bluffs
Acidic riverbank outcrop
Circumneutral riverbank outcrop
Acidic riverside seep
Calcareous riverside seep
Dry river bluff
Riverwash plain and dunes

Open emergent marshes, shrub thickets, and aquatic beds

Open-basins and streamsides
Meadow marshes
Tall graminoid meadow marsh  (formerly: tall graminoid emergent marsh)
Mixed tall graminoid - scrub-shrub marsh
• Sedge meadow marsh  (formerly: northern medium sedge meadow marsh and fenny marsh)
Short graminoid - forb meadow marsh/mud flat  (formerly: short graminoid - forb emergent marsh/mud flat)
Emergent marshes
Emergent marsh  (formerly: medium-depth emergent marsh and deep emergent marsh - aquatic bed)
Cattail marsh
 Bayonet rush emergent marsh
Aquatic beds
Aquatic bed
Open seepage marshes
Herbaceous seepage marsh
Lake sedge seepage marsh
Shrub thickets (non-peatland types)
Highbush blueberry - winterberry shrub thicket
Alder seepage thicket
• Buttonbush shrubland  (formerly: oxbow buttonbush swamp and buttonbush basin swamp)

Sandy pond shore, closed-basin, and sand dune settings
Sandy pond shore settings
Sweet gale - alder shrub thicket  (formerly: sweet gale - speckled alder shrub thicket)
Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore
Bulblet umbrella-sedge open sandy pond shore
Water lobelia aquatic sandy pond shore
Hudsonia inland beach strand
• Montane sandy pond shore 
Sand plain closed-basin marsh settings
Meadowsweet - robust graminoid sand plain marsh
Meadow beauty sand plain marsh
Three-way sedge - mannagrass mud flat marsh
Spike-rush - floating-leaved aquatic mud flat marsh
Sharp-flowered mannagrass shallow peat marsh
Montane sandy basin marsh
Coastal sand dune settings
Coastal interdunal marsh/swale

Open peatlands

Mud-bottoms, open moss lawns, and flarks
Liverwort - horned bladderwort fen
Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpet
Large cranberry - short sedge moss lawn
Water willow - Sphagnum fen  (formerly: water willow - Sphagnum lagg)
Circumneutral - calcareous flark
Dwarf- and medium-shrub bogs and poor fens
Leatherleaf - sheep laurel shrub bog  (formerly: leather-leaf - sheep laurel dwarf shrub bog)
Leatherleaf - black spruce bog
Northern white cedar circumneutral string
• Montane level fen/bog  
Sedge and shrub/graminoid fens
• Bog rosemary - sedge fen  (formerly: bog rosemary - sweet gale - sedge fen)
Sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen
Montane sloping fen
Wire sedge - sweet gale fen  (formerly: hairy-fruited sedge - sweet gale fen)
• Alder - lake sedge intermediate fen  (formerly: speckled alder - lake sedge intermediate fen)
Calcareous sedge - moss fen
Tall – medium shrub thicket/sparse woodlands
Highbush blueberry - mountain holly wooded fen
Montane alder - heath shrub thicket
Winterberry - cinnamon fern wooded fen
Sweet pepperbush wooded fen
• Alder wooded fen  (formerly: speckled alder wooded fen)
Highbush blueberry - sweet gale - meadowsweet shrub thicket
Mountain holly - black spruce wooded fen
Marshy peatland-margin communities
Floating marshy peat mat
Marshy moat

Alpine/subalpine bogs and subalpine heath snowbanks
Alpine/subalpine bog  (formerly: wet alpine/subalpine bog)
Wooded subalpine bog/heath snowbank
Subalpine sloping fen  (formerly: subalpine sliding fen)

Estuarine Communities

Intertidal marshes
Low salt marsh
High salt marsh
Brackish marsh
Salt pannes and pools
Marsh elder shrubland
Low brackish riverbank marsh  (formerly: low brackish tidal riverbank marsh)
High brackish riverbank marsh  (formerly: high brackish tidal riverbank marsh)
Coastal salt pond marsh

Intertidal flats and shores
Coastal shoreline strand/swale
Intertidal rocky shore
Intertidal flat  (formerly: saline/brackish intertidal flat)

Subtidal communities
Eelgrass bed

Maritime Communities

Brackish water pool
Intertidal rocky shore
Maritime cobble beach
Maritime rocky barren
Maritime meadow
Maritime shrub thicket


Click here to link to a list of communities that were included in the 2004 classification, but have since been deleted or combined/reclassified into other natural community types (NHB plans to publish a comprehensive list of changes and explanations)

Please see our Introduction to Natural Communities page for more information about natural communities. 

Photo Guide to NH Natural Community Systems