Sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen (S4)
Sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen is a medium-height, dense shrub or shrub - sedge fen community that occurs statewide along the borders of streams and ponds (and other moderately minerotrophic settings) at low to mid elevations throughout the state. Average pH is 4.5. Peat is moderately well decomposed near the surface and hummocks are well developed (average height 0.25 m; average maximum height 0.43 m). This community is distinguished from structurally similar dwarf heath shrub bogs by the presence of non-heath shrubs, sedges, and forbs.
Characteristic vegetation: Sweet gale (Myrica gale) and leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) dominate this community. They tend to be robust (average height 0.90 m), nearly constant, and abundant. Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) is usually present in lesser abundance, and tall shrubs are sparse or absent. Tussock sedge (Carex stricta) and other sedges and forbs are common, but collectively less abundant than shrubs. Tussock sedge, despite its name, generally does not form well-developed tussocks in this or in other peatland communities. Tall shrubs are sparse (<5%) or absent.
The herb layer is moderately well developed and typically contributes 5-25% cover (average is 18%). It consists of several herbaceous species, each of which are only present in low abundance, including bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis), wire sedge (Carex lasiocarpa), bottle-shaped sedge (Carex utriculata), common cattail (Typha latifolia), swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris), marsh St. John's-wort (Triadenum virginicum), and silvery sedge (Carex canescens). Sphagnum fimbriatum and S. henryense are frequent, and S. cuspidatum is occasional.
Good examples of this community occur at Betty Meadows (Northwood), Wilkinson Brook (Effingham), northwest of
Sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen often occurs as part of a medium level fen system.
sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen at Turtle Pond in Concord (photo by Dan Sperduto)
sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen (photo by Dan Sperduto)
sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen frames a stream
in the Whitefield / Lancaster vicinity (photo by Dan Sperduto)
sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen along
the Blackwater River in Salisbury (photo by Dan Sperduto)
sweet gale - meadowsweet - tussock sedge fen along Dean Brook at Cape Horn State Forest
in Northumberland (photo by Ben Kimball)