Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpet  (S3)



Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpets
occur on floating peat mats, and sometimes on adjacent grounded mats, in kettle holes and other isolated peatland basins. They are dominated by Sphagnum rubellum and a relatively sparse and dwarfed heath shrub layer (average shrub height is 0.29 m and cover is generally 5–20%). They are found in oligotrophic kettle holes and other peatland basins that are isolated from the minerotrophic influence of upland runoff or lake water.

This widespread community is one of the most acidic peatlands in the state, often with a pH more acidic than vinegar (pH 3.9 or lower). The peat is poorly decomposed in the upper 0.5 m and hummock-hollow topography is poorly developed (average hummock height 0.13 m).

Characteristic Vegetation:
Sphagnum rubellum moss forms a low, nearly-continuous, often reddish carpet, along with lesser amounts of other peat mosses. The diminutive small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) is a diagnostic species, and leatherleaf is also consistently present. Other occasional plants growing on the carpet include bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia) and sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia), pitcherplant (Sarracenia purpurea), tawny cotton grass (Eriophorum virginicum), hare’s tail (Eriophorum vaginatum), and white beak-rush (Rhynchospora alba). Trees are absent, or sparse and stunted. The rare huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa var. bigeloviana) occurs in some examples within ca. 30 miles of the coast.

Variants: Two variants are described.

1. Typic variant: (as described above).

2. 
Sphagnum magellanicum variant: 
   This variant is characterized by an abundance of Sphagnum magellanicum and less frequent Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew).


Good examples of this community occur at South Bay Bog (Clarksville), Lost Ponds (Ossipee), Red Hill Pond (Sandwich), Cedar Swamp Pond (Kingston), Trask Swamp (Alton), and Little Church Pond (Livermore/Albany).

Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpets often occur as part of larger kettle hole bog systems, poor level fen/bog systems, and patterned fen systems.


Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpet in the CT Lakes Headwaters Natural Area (photo by Bill Nichols for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpet
in the CT Lakes Headwaters Natural Area (photo by Bill Nichols)

Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpet at Philbrick-Cricenti Bog in New London (photo by Ben Kimball)
Sphagnum rubellum - small cranberry moss carpet 
at Philbrick-Cricenti Bog in New London (photo by Ben Kimball)


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