Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Red maple - pitch pine - cinnamon fern forest  (S1S2)

The canopy in this forest community is characterized by pitch pine (Pinus rigida), red maple (Acer rubrum), and a somewhat diverse mix of other wetland and upland tree species. The shrub layer is typically moderately well-developed, with highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) being the most common. The herb layer is somewhat poorly developed, with scattered upland and wetland species, and species that are often found in forests occupying intermediate positions between upland and wetland communities. These include bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), false violet (Rubus dalibarda), goldthread (Coptis trifolia), and creeping snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula). Sphagnum moss cover is low to moderate.

This community forms “low” or wet forests that are seasonally saturated or otherwise maintain a seasonally high water table. Soils are somewhat poorly drained, dark brown fine sands, in transition zones between wetland and upland communities.

Characteristic vegetation:
This community is differentiated from various mesic upland forests (e.g., hemlock - beech - oak - pine forest) of central and southern NH by the presence of a few wetland species in low to moderate abundance, including cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) and highbush blueberry. Pitch pine and red maple dominate, mixing with various combinations of white pine (Pinus strobus), red oak (Quercus rubra), red spruce (Picea rubens), and black spruce (Picea mariana). Additional tree species in low cover at some sites include eastern larch (Larix laricina) and American beech (Fagus grandifolia).

In addition to highbush blueberry in the shrub layer, other common species may include mountain holly (Nemopanthus mucronatus), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), and witherod (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides). Other shrubs that may be present are sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), velvet-leaf blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides), and lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium). Scattered upland and wetland herbs include cinnamon fern, bunchberry, false violet, goldthread, creeping snowberry, three-seeded sedge (Carex trisperma), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), starflower (Trientalis borealis), Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), and several other species. Sphagnum moss cover ranges from <10% to over 50%.

Classification confidence:

This community occurs in central New Hampshire with good examples at White Lake State Park (Tamworth) and Cooper Cedar Woods (New Durham).

Red maple - pitch pine - cinnamon fern forest  (photo by Bill Nichols)
Red maple - pitch pine - cinnamon fern forest 
at White Lake State Park in Tamworth (photo by Bill Nichols)

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