Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Sheep laurel - Labrador tea heath - krummholz  (S2)



Sheep laurel - Labrador tea heath - krummholz
is the lower of the two heath - krummholz community types in New Hampshire (Labrador tea heath - krummholz is the higher one). It occurs on subalpine peaks between 3,000 and 3,500 ft. elevation.

Krummholz is a German word meaning “crooked wood.” At these higher elevations, wind and blowing snow prune branches so severely that an upright tree cannot gather sufficient mineral nutrients to offset losses. As a result, certain trees adopt a twisted, stunted life form allows these species to persist. Krummholz typically betrays the direction of prevailing winds with branches flagged in one direction. Heath - krummholz communities can occur as nearly pure dwarf shrublands, with shrubs barely ankle-high, but also as mixtures of up to 60% krummholz, where the heaths are closer to knee-high.

Characteristic vegetation:
The stunted krummholz of this community is made up of red spruce (Picea rubens), balsam fir (Abies balsamia), and heartleaf birch (Betula cordifolia) trees. Common heath plants (members of the heath family) in this community include sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), alpine bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), and rhodora (Rhododendron canadense). Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) occurs, but less frequently than it does in the Labrador tea heath - krummholz community of higher elevations. Mountain holly (Nemopanthus mucronatus) and black chokeberry (Photinia melanocarpa) may also occur, and three-toothed cinquefoil (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata) is occasional. Lichens are common on frequent exposures of outcrop, stone, or gravel.


Good examples of this community occur on Mt. Moriah, Shelburne-Moriah Mtn., South and North Baldface Mtns., Lower Baldy, Mt. Success, Imp Mtn., the Moat Mtns., Eagle Crag, Mt. Cardigan, and Mt. Monadnock.

Sheep laurel - Labrador tea heath - krummholz often occurs as part of subalpine heath - krummholz/rocky bald systems.


Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on Shelburne-Moriah Mtn. (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on Shelburne-Moriah Mtn.
(photo by Ben Kimball) 


Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on North Baldface Mtn. (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on North Baldface Mtn.
(photo by Ben Kimball)

Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on South Baldface Mtn. (photo by Dan Sperduto for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on South Baldface Mtn.
(photo by Dan Sperduto)

Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on North Percy Peak (photo by Dan Sperduto)
Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on North Percy Peak 
(photo by Dan Sperduto)

Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on Whitewall Mtn. (photo by Dan Sperduto)
Sheep laurel - Labrador tea - heath krummholz on Whitewall Mtn. (photo by Dan Sperduto)



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