Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Wire sedge - sweet gale fen  (S3)


(formerly hairy-fruited sedge - sweet gale fen)

Wire sedge - sweet gale fen is a widespread, intermediate (minerotrophic) sedge or shrub – sedge fen type. It is most common on floating mats along lake and pond margins, but also occurs along upland borders of some kettle holes and on soupy, loosely consolidated peat on the surface of grounded mats. Nutrient status is intermediate (average pH is 4.9), and hummocks are only low to moderate in height.

Average pH is 4.9. Hummocks are low to moderate sized (average height 0.19 m), and peat is moderately to well decomposed within the upper 0.5 m. Many examples along lakes consist of moderately shallow peat layers underlain by lake silts.

Characteristic vegetation:
Wire sedge (Carex lasiocarpa) is abundant and mixes with variable amounts of sweet gale (Myrica gale), bottle-shaped sedge (Carex utriculata; frequent), and few-seeded sedge (Carex oligosperma; occasional). At least one of the three sedge species is always present. Forbs indicative of intermediate nutrient status are usually present in low abundance, including swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris), marsh St. John's-wort (Triadenum virginicum), and common arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia). Large cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) can be common and abundant under the sedges in some examples, but it is not always present. Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis), and common cattail (Typha latifolia) are occasional, particularly when large cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is absent. Arrow-arum (Peltandra virginica) is occasional. Peat mosses (Sphagnum spp.) are occasionally absent but usually form a sparse to moderate cover that may include S. lescurii (frequent) and S. torreyanum (occasional). Sphagnum cuspidatum, S. fimbriatum, and S. affine are uncommon. Except for occasional leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) medium and tall shrubs and trees are sparse or absent.


Good examples of this community occur in the Ossipee Lake Natural Area (south of the lake) (Ossipee), Bearcamp River delta (Ossipee), Berry Pond (Moultonborough/Sandwich), Powwow River (Kingston), and World End Pond (Salem).

Wire sedge - sweet gale fen often occurs as part of a larger medium level fen system.
 

Wire sedge - sweet gale fen in Effingham (photo by Dan Sperduto for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Wire sedge - sweet gale fen in Effingham (photo by Dan Sperduto)

Wire sedge - sweet gale fen in the Ossipee Lake Natural Area (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Wire sedge - sweet gale fen in the Ossipee Lake Natural Area (photo by Ben Kimball)

Wire sedge - sweet gale fen in the Ossipee Lake Natural Area (photo by Ben Kimball)
Wire sedge - sweet gale fen
in the Ossipee Lake Natural Area (photo by Ben Kimball)

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