Labrador tea heath - krummholz (S2)
Above 3,500 ft. on NH's higher mountains, the transition from sheep laurel - Labrador tea heath - krummholz (the lower of the two subalpine heath - krummholz communities) to Labrador tea heath - krummholz is marked by the appearance of black spruce (Picea mariana) as sheep laurel, red spruce, and other species drop out. Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) is a characteristic dwarf shrub species, along with alpine bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), purple crowberry (Empetrum atropurpureum), and mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). Lichens are common and abundant.
The krummholz layer of balsam fir (Abies balsamia), black spruce (Picea mariana), and heartleaf birch (Betula cordifolia) is low and patchy, averaging less than half a meter in height (with occasional taller "islands" of krummholz up to 1.5m in height).
Good examples of this community occur on Signal Ridge of Mt. Carrigain, the west ridge of Mt. Bond, Mt. Guyot, Imp Mtn., Mt. Hight, Mt. Isolation, Mt. Moriah, and Mt. Garfield.
Labrador tea heath - krummholz often occurs as part of subalpine heath - krummholz/rocky bald systems.
Labrador tea heath - krummholz on Mt. Hight (photo by Dan Sperduto)
Labrador tea heath - krummholz occurs just above treeline
on Mt. Washington (photo by Ben Kimball)
Labrador tea heath - krummholz in the Great Gulf (photo by Ben Kimball)
Labrador tea heath - krummholz (particularly in the foreground) on the summit
of Mt. Isolation in the White Mountains (photo by Ben Kimball)