Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Maritime meadow  (S1)



Maritime meadows are characterized by forbs and graminoids and dominate upland habitats landward of maritime rocky barrens on most of the smaller islands in the Isles of Shoals (such as Seaveys Island and White Island) and considerable areas of the larger ones where sizable seabird nesting colonies occur. Shrub cover is markedly reduced or absent. The density of herb cover can vary greatly here. Cover is less dense in exposed areas with thin, dry soils, and denser in protected areas thicker, moister soils. Substrates consist of thin, dry, organic rich, sandy loams.

This community is invariably linked to seabird nesting colonies, as guano deposition from gulls and cormorants play a significant role in maintaining species composition and structure. Gulls and cormorants also pull and trample vegetation in nesting areas; vegetation cover and composition in turn influences whether the nesting habitat is more suitable for terns, gulls, or cormorants. The combination of these physical stresses favors certain perennial grasses and annual forbs, and eliminates shrubs and other plants.

Characteristic Vegetation:
On thinner, drier soils in more exposed areas, herb cover is sparse to moderate and characterized by yarrow (Achillea millefolium), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), red fescue (Festuca rubra), red sorrel (Rumex acetosella), rough goldenrod (Solidago rugosa), and New York aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii), with lesser amounts of scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), drooping brome grass (Bromus tectorum), narrow-leaved peppergrass (Lepidium ruderale), poor-man's pepper (Lepidium virginicum), lady's thumb (Persicaria maculosa), birds' knotweed (Polygonum aviculare), common purslane (Portulaca oleracea), and black nightshade (Solanum nigrum).

In more protected areas where soil accumulation and moisture increase, a moderate to dense cover of herbs can occur. Together with the species mentioned above, additional herbs characteristic of these less exposed areas are common mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), quack grass (Elymus repens), Scotch lovage (Ligusticum scothicum), dotted smartweed (Persicaria punctata), wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), tumble mustard (Sisymbrium altissimum), hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), and common chickweed (Stellaria media). The few shrubs or woody vines that may be present typically include common blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).


In New Hampshire, good examples of this community can only be found on the Isles of Shoals.

Maritime meadows
sometimes occur as part of a larger maritime rocky shore system.


Maritime meadow community on the Isles of Shoals (photo by Dan Sperduto for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Maritime meadow community on the Isles of Shoals (photo by Dan Sperduto)

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