Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Meadow beauty sand plain marsh  (S1)

Meadow beauty sand plain marsh
is a very rare community type of shallow, seasonally to semi-permanently flooded sand plain basins of south-central New Hampshire. Short clonal sedges, forbs, and clumped graminoids dominate over sandy, peaty soils. There is an abundance of Sphagnum cuspidatum. Many of the species characteristic of this type have coastal plain affinities.

Ninety-five percent of the water input at New Hampshire’s only known site for this community comes in the form of precipitation, with the remainder from groundwater inflow. Drawdowns usually occur by late summer (earlier in dry years), stranding the aquatic Sphagnum cuspidatum as thin, dry mats on mucky sand. From 1996–1999, water fluctuations averaged 1.76 m/year, with a maximum range of 2.2 m recorded during the four-year period. Soils are shallow sandy muck (10–20 cm) over sand.

This community is similar to twig-rush sandy turf pond shore and bulblet umbrella-sedge open sandy pond shore. It differs by a greater abundance of short rhizomatous and clumped sedges, and fewer ruderals and tall graminoids than twig-rush sandy turf pond shore and bulblet umbrella-sedge open sandy pond shore. All three are rare and under threat in New Hampshire. Three-way sedge - mannagrass mudflat marsh occupies approximately the same topographic position as this community (both begin ca. 0.75 m on average below the upland transition), but tends to have more organic matter accumulation, perhaps driven by less dramatically fluctuating water levels that lead to more organic matter production and accumulation. 

Characteristic Vegetation: Abundant herbs include slender spike rush (Eleocharis tenuis), meadow beauty (Rhexia virginica), lance-leaved violet (Viola lanceolata), spurned panic grass (Dichanthelium acuminatum ssp. spretum), and spatulate-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia). Aquatic peat mosses (Sphagnum spp.) are abundant and lush during wet periods, but reduce to a thin, dry layer during drawdown periods when herbs emerge from the seed bank. This community contains many species with coastal plain affinities, such as stone nutrush (Scleria reticularis), and other rare species such as grassleaf goldenrod (Euthamia caroliniana) and false pimpernel (Lindernia dubia var. anagallidea).

A good example of this community occurs at Grassy Pond in Litchfield.

Meadow beauty sand plain marsh may occur as part of a larger sand plain basin marsh system.

Meadow beauty sand plain marsh at Grassy Pond (photo by Dan Sperduto)
Meadow beauty sand plain marsh at Grassy Pond (photo by Dan Sperduto)

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