Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Coastal rocky headland  (S1)



Coastal rocky headlands
are restricted to a few windswept promontories and narrow peninsulas in Great Bay where salt spray is a major environmental factor. They are characterized by stunted eastern red cedar, black oak, other trees, and numerous shrubs. Very few examples have been described from New Hampshire, but more may exist.

The community is fairly distinct, but known examples are typically impacted by humans and the degree of natural origin is uncertain. It contains numerous non-native species. It occurs on various types of bedrock with thin, acidic soils, in close proximity to tidal action and salt spray. At its ocean-side edge, this community grades into tidal vegetation. Soils are thin and acidic.  

Characteristic vegetation:
Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and black oak (Quercus velutina) appear to be the most dominant species, with lesser quantities of black cherry (Prunus serotina), pitch pine (Pinus rigida), eastern shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), and other trees and tall shrubs. Other species present may include ground juniper (Juniperus communis var. depressa), smooth alder (Alnus serrulata), northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina), blue toadflax (Linaria canadensis), Scotch lovage (Ligusticum scothicum), pinweed (Lechea intermedia), and sea-rocket (Cakile edentula).

Documented New Hampshire examples are disturbed and have numerous exotics including common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), European barberry (Berberis vulgaris), Morrow's honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), and red sorrel (Rumex acetosella).


Good examples
of this community occur on Thomas Point and Woodman Point on the eastern shore of Great Bay (Newington).

Coastal rocky headlands sometimes occur as part of larger maritime rocky shore systems.


coastal rocky headland community at Thomas Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
coastal rocky headland community at Thomas Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball)

coastal rocky headland community at Thomas Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball)
coastal rocky headland community at Thomas Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball)

coastal rocky headland community at Thomas Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball)
coastal rocky headland community at Thomas Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball)

small expression of a coastal rocky headland community at Adams Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball)
small expression of a coastal rocky headland community
at Adams Point on Great Bay (photo by Ben Kimball)



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