Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Mixed pine - red oak woodland  (S1S2)

Mixed pine - red oak woodlands
are dominated by an unusual mix of pitch pine, red pine, white pine, and red oak. It is found on coarse, light-textured glacial sand plain features (such as eskers, etc.) of low elevations (<800 ft.) in central and possibly south-central New Hampshire. It apparently occurs on sand plains that have longer intervals (>100 years) between fires than areas dominated by pitch pine - scrub oak woodlands (50-100 years). Some may have succeeded from that community, with or without the influence of logging. The composition of this community can be very similar, with the added components of Pinus strobus (white pine) and usually one or both red pine (Pinus resinosa) and red oak (Quercus rubra). Fire intolerant hardwoods may be common, including gray birch (Betula populifolia), big-toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata), and red maple (Acer rubrum). Scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia) is occasional but not dominant in the understory. This community may grade into pitch pine - scrub oak woodlands and dry red oak - white pine forests.

Soils are well to excessively well drained, coarse-textured sand and gravel deposits of features such as eskers, kames, outwash, moraine deposits, and other ice-contact deposits. Soils are low in available nutrients (oligotrophic). They include Hinckley, Windsor, and possibly Naumberg soil series. This community likely requires periodic fires for maintenance of vegetation. Areas that burn less frequently within a sand plain system may be the result of discontinuous burn areas. An area may be less likely to burn if it is more marginal or otherwise isolated from the central sand plain area or fire ignition sources.

Characteristic Vegetation: Three of New Hampshire’s native pines are typically present in quantity, including pitch pine (Pinus rigida), red pine (P. resinosa), and white pine (P. strobus). Red oak (Quercus rubra) may also be present, and may equal or exceed the pines in abundance in some examples. Southern or Appalachian species are lacking (such as white and black oaks, hickories, and southern herbaceous species found in pitch pine - Appalachian oak - heath forests). Understory vegetation consists of several heath shrubs such as lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), hillside blueberry (V. pallidum), sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), and sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina). Scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia) is present in some examples.

Many species common to most dry, acidic oak - pine communities may be present, including shrub and herbaceous species such as ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), hillside blueberry (V. pallidum), dangleberry (Gaylussacia frondosa), black huckleberry (G. baccata), maple-leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), Pennsylvania and woodland sedges (Carex pensylvanica/lucorum), common hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), rough-leaved rice grass (Oryzopsis asperifolia), poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), bracken (Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum), whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia), and intermediate pinweed (Lechea intermedia). velvet-leaf blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides) and sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) are occasional, but are also characteristic of dry to wet high elevation ridges, alpine tundra, and bogs. Also frequently present are red maple (Acer rubrum), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and gray birch (B. populifolia).

Good examples of this community occur at Pine River State Forest (Ossipee and Effingham), White Lake State Park (Ossipee), south of Cedar Swamp Pond (Kingston), and in the Moat Brook vicinity (Hale’s Location).

Mixed pine - red oak woodlands usually occur as part of larger pitch pine sand plain systems.

mixed pine - red oak woodland in the Heath Pond Bog Natural Area (photo by Dan Sperduto for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
mixed pine - red oak woodland in the Heath
Pond Bog Natural Area (photo by Dan Sperduto)

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