Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Sweet pepperbush wooded fen  (S2)

Sweet pepperbush wooded fens
are an uncommon, weakly minerotrophic peatland type restricted to the southeastern part of the state. They are found adjacent to uplands as a border zone around acidic fens, and sometimes as the dominant fen community in large peatland basins. The community is essentially a coastal version of the winterberry - cinnamon fern wooded fen, with more coastal species present.

Characteristic Vegetation: These fens are dominated by medium-height shrubs (up to 0.9m), including sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), and winterberry (Ilex verticillata), and contain a suite of coastal species such as Virginia chain-fern (Woodwardia virginica), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), separated sedge (Carex seorsa), and dangleberry (Gaylussacia frondosa). Other species that may be present include poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), smooth winterberry (Ilex laevigata), water willow (Decodon verticillatus), and black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), and Sphagnum moss may occur in microtopographic hollows.

A good example of this community can be seen along the rail trail at Spruce Swamp (Fremont).

Sweet pepperbush wooded fens sometimes occur as part of larger medium level fen systems and coastal conifer peat swamp systems.

Sweet pepperbush wooded fen at Spruce Swamp (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Sweet pepperbush wooded fen at Spruce Swamp (photo by Ben Kimball)

Sweet pepperbush wooded fen at Cedar Swamp Pond (photo by Dan Sperduto)
Sweet pepperbush wooded fen at Cedar Swamp Pond 
(photo by Dan Sperduto)

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