Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Red maple - elm - lady fern silt forest  (S1S2)

Red maple - elm - lady fern silt forests
occur in the Great Bay area of southeastern New Hampshire. With a seasonally-high water table and silt or marine clay soils that have high water holding capacity, they are essentially a forest type that is intermediate between upland and wetland communities. The vegetation consists of a moderately diverse combination of moist-site, upland forest species and facultative wetland species. The woody and herbaceous understories range from sparse to moderately well developed.

Characteristic Vegetation: Red maple (Acer rubrum) dominates, and American elm (Ulmus americana) and other trees are present in lower abundance. Musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) can be an abundant understory species, and semi-rich site indicators including lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), and violets (Viola spp.) are usually present.

Other tree species may include white ash (Fraxinus americana), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), basswood (Tilia americana), white pine (Pinus strobus), black cherry (Prunus serotina), and hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Other shrubs and herbs may include poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), northern arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum var. lucidum), northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia).

Species indicative of semi-rich or wet conditions are present in at least half of the known examples, and include swamp saxifrage (Saxifraga pensylvanica), stellate sedge (Carex radiata), star sedge (Carex rosea), spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), small mannagrass (Glyceria striata), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), and white avens (Geum canadense).

Good examples
of this community occur at Bellamy River Wildlife Sanctuary (Dover), College Woods (Durham), the south side of Great Bay (Greenland), and the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Newington).

Red maple - elm - lady fern silt forests sometimes occur as part of larger temperate minerotrophic swamp systems.

Red maple - elm - ladyfern silt forests at Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Red maple - elm - ladyfern silt forest at Great Bay
National Wildlife Refuge (photo by Ben Kimball)

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