Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Temperate acidic cliff  (S4)


(formerly lowland acidic cliff)

Temperate acidic cliffs are the most common type of cliff in New Hampshire, and are found throughout the state below 2,200 feet elevation. Montane, subalpine, and circumneutral indictor species are all absent.

Characteristic vegetation: Common herbaceous plants include common hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), rock polypody (Polypodium virginianum), hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula), marginal wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis), fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis), wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), and a wide variety of asters, goldenrods, grasses, and sedges. Pale corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens), fern-leaved false foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularis var. intercedens), and lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) may be found on dry microsites. The most frequent woody plant on temperate acidic cliffs is bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera).

Oaks, white pine, pitch pine, eastern red cedar, and ground juniper occur frequently on more southern or low-elevation cliffs, and occasionally on south-facing cliffs in the White Mountains. Red spruce, red pine, yellow birch, and paper birch are more frequent on northern or higher-elevation cliffs.

Wet seepage areas sometimes support an abundance of mosses and liverworts, and occasionally even vascular plants of fens and swamps such as round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), bluets (Houstonia caerulia), violets (Viola spp.), meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), dwarf raspberry (Rubus pubescens), whorled aster (Oclemena acuminata), golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium americanum), and bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis). The spectacular gorges at the Flume in Lincoln and Devil’s Hopyard in Stark are among New Hampshire’s largest and most well-developed cliff seeps.


A good example of this community can be found at Joe English Hill (New Boston).

Temperate acidic cliffs sometimes occur as part of a larger temperate ridge - cliff - talus system.



temperate acidic cliff at Whitehorse Ledge (photo by Dan Sperduto for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
temperate acidic cliff at Whitehorse Ledge (photo by Dan Sperduto)

Temperate acidic cliff at Ellis Hatch WMA in Brookfield (photo by Pete Bowman for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)  Temperate acidic cliff at Ellis Hatch WMA in Brookfield (photo by Pete Bowman for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)(photo by Pete Bowman for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
temperate acidic cliff at Ellis Hatch WMA (photos by Pete Bowman)

temperate acidic cliff at Cape Horn State Forest, with botanist for scale (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
temperate acidic cliff at Cape Horn State Forest (photo by Ben Kimball)

temperate acidic cliff at Owls Head in Benton (photo by Ben Kimball)
temperate acidic cliff at Owls Head in Benton (photo by Ben Kimball)

temperate acidic cliff at Devils Hopyard in Stark (photo by Ben Kimball)
temperate acidic cliff at Devils Hopyard in Stark (photo by Ben Kimball)



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