Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Hemlock - white pine forest  (S4)



Hemlock - white pine forests are upland conifer forests in southern and central parts of the state. They occur on dry-mesic and infertile till or glacio-fluvial soils and are characterized by the co-dominance of hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and white pine (Pinus strobus). The community is narrowly distinguished from hemlock - beech - oak - pine forests, but classified as its own community due to strong conifer dominance, its correspondingly poorly developed herbaceous understory, and the apparent longevity of the association (200+ year old pine and hemlock occur at several sites). It is also distinguished from hemlock - spruce - northern hardwood forests by the rarity or lack of red spruce (Picea rubens), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum).

Soils are acidic, moderately to extremely well drained, dry-mesic to mesic, coarse loamy sands and sandy loams of varying degrees of stoniness. Soils are derived from glacial till, river terraces, and ice-contact deposits (eskers, kames, and outwash).

Characteristic Vegetation:
Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and white pine (Pinus strobus) are the primary canopy dominants. Shrubs and herbs are sparse, but may include witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), maple-leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), intermediate wood fern (Dryopteris intermedia), Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), New York fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), starflower (Trientalis borealis), clubmosses (Lycopodium spp.), Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora), and Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense). 



Good examples of this community can be seen at Hemenway State Forest (Tamworth), College Woods (Durham), Pawtuckaway State Park (Nottingham), Sheldrick Forest Preserve (Wilton), Thatcher Memorial Forest (Hancock), and Heath Pond Bog Natural Area (Ossipee).

Hemlock - white pine forests often occur as part of larger hemlock - hardwood pine forest systems.


Hemlock - white pine forest at Saint-Gaudens (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Hemlock - white pine forest at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site (photo by Ben Kimball)

Hemlock - white pine forest at Saint-Gaudens (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Hemlock - white pine forest at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site (photo by Ben Kimball)

Hemlock - white pine forest at Hemenway State Forest (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Hemlock - white pine forest at Hemenway State Forest (photo by Ben Kimball)

Hemlock - white pine forest at UNH's College Woods (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Hemlock - white pine forest at UNH's College Woods (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Hemlock - white pine forest at UNH's College Woods (photos by Ben Kimball)

back to Natural Communities of NH Photo Guide