Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore  (S1)

Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore is a structurally diverse community that occurs on sandy lake shores in central New Hampshire. Robust and stress-tolerant species such as twig-rush, grass-leaved goldenrod, small-tussock sedge, wire sedge, and bluejoint grow on sandy, organic turf mats between open water (or sand beach) below and shrub communities above. Wave and ice action are prominent disturbance forces here, but they are less severe than in bulblet umbrella-sedge open sandy pond shore and water lobelia aquatic sandy pond shore communities, which occur slightly lower on the shoreline and have much lower percent covers of vegetation. This community is similar to meadow beauty sand plain marsh, but contains more robust, rhizomatous, stress-tolerant graminoids, has only a sparse Sphagnum presence, and is much more compositionally and structurally diverse. Numerous species of coastal plain distribution are found in this community.

Near the surface, soils consist of alternating layers of sandy peat mats and sand. Sand typically dominates below 50 cm, but in some cases sand is interbedded with organic layers to a depth of over 1 m. This deeper layering of sand, muck, and peat attests to the dynamic nature of the environment this community occurs in.

The sandy peat mats have drastically diminished at Ossipee Lake, the larger of New Hampshire's two known examples for this very rare community type. The primary cause for this loss is likely the result of water levels being maintained at a higher level over the past several decades, driving wave action higher onto the shore. The few sandy peat mats that remain today mostly lack twig-rush. These remnant mats formerly occupied less exposed portions of the sandy peat mats adjacent to shrub communities. In the past, twig-rush was abundant on the outer portions of these mats (now eroded away), it being one of the few species tolerant of moderate levels of wave action.

Characteristic vegetation:
Twig-rush (Cladium mariscoides) is the dominant matrix species in this community. Other characteristic species include common grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia), the state-rare fine grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia caroliniana), small-tussock sedge (Carex stricta var. strictior; rhizomatous form), wire sedge (C. lasiocarpa), bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis), and large cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon).

Species frequently found in low abundance include slender spike-rush (Eleocharis tenuis), lance-leaved violet (Viola lanceolata), bulblet umbrella sedge (Cyperus dentatus), common arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa), sweet gale (Myrica gale), three-square rush (Schoenoplectus pungens), switch grass (Panicum virgatum), Clayton's bedstraw (Galium tinctorium), common beggarticks (Bidens frondosa), one-flowered muhly (Muhlenbergia uniflora), rattlesnake mannagrass (Glyceria canadensis), three-way sedge (Dulichium arundinaceum), and common water horehound (Lycopus uniflorus). Peat moss (Sphagnum spp.) is occasional.

Slender bog clubmoss (Lycopodiella appressa) and mermaidweed (Proserpinaca pectinata) are two rare species known from an example of this community along the shore of Ossipee Lake, but they have not been relocated in recent surveys. At Lake Massasecum, the globally rare sclerolepis (Sclerolepis uniflora) washes into this community from deeper water habitats.

Good examples
of this community occur at the Ossipee Lake Natural Area along the shores of Ossipee Lake in Ossipee and Lake Massasecum in Bradford.

Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore
 sometimes occurs as part of a larger sandy pond shore system.

Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore at Lake Massasecum (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore at Lake Massasecum in Bradford (photo by Ben Kimball)

Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore at Ossipee Lake (photo by Ben Kimball)
Twig-rush sandy turf pond shore
at Ossipee Lake (photo by Ben Kimball)

twig-rush (photo by Dan Sperduto)
twig-rush (Cladium mariscoides
(photo by Dan Sperduto)

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