Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Circumneutral rocky ridge  (S1)

Circumneutral rocky ridge
is a very rare community found on calcareous bedrock outcrops at the brows of cliffs in only two known locations in New Hampshire. Soils are similar to those founds on other rocky ridges, with thin, turfy organic and A horizons over thin, gravelly or sandy B or C horizons. Overall productivity is low.

Characteristic Vegetation: Species diagnostic of the base-rich conditions in this community include creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis), snowy aster (Aster ptarmicoides), wild honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica) and one-flowered cancer-root (Orobanche uniflora). Snowy aster is primarily a plant of calcium-rich prairies in the Midwest and south, whereas creeping juniper is a more northern, transcontinental plant of rocky habitats. Species characteristic of sites with intermediate bedrock can also be present including rusty woodsia (Woodsia ilvensis) and harebell (Campanula rotundifolia). New Hampshire examples tend to have fewer calciphiles than other New England examples.

Other characteristic species (not restricted to basic soils) include bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), three-toothed cinquefoil (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), American mountain ash (Sorbus americana), mountain alder (Alnus viridis ssp. crispa), common hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), and intermediate pinweed (Lechea intermedia). Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla floribunda) and scirpus-like sedge (Carex scirpoidea) may also occur here or on adjacent/nearby cliffs.

A good example of this community occurs at Holts Ledge in Lyme.

Circumneutral rocky ridges can occur as part of a larger temperate ridge - cliff - talus system.

Circumneutral rocky ridge community (lower right) at Holts Ledge (photo by Dan Sperduto for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Circumneutral rocky ridge community (lower right) at Holts Ledge (photo by Dan Sperduto)

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