Willow low riverbank (S3)
Willow low riverbank communities support sparse to moderate cover of willow species, and lesser amounts of alder, other shrubs, tree saplings, woody vines, and herbs. They are typically narrow and discontinuous, sometimes containing bands of willow seedlings that establish as falling water levels expose sediments.
Soils are typically a mix of sand, gravel, and cobble, flooded at high water, and apparently remain mesic as river water levels fall later in the growing season.
Characteristic Vegetation: Characteristic species include stiff willow (Salix eriocephala), black willow (Salix nigra), and silky willow (Salix sericea). Less frequent shrub, sapling, and vine species may include dogwoods (Cornus spp.), alders (Alnus spp.), maples (Acer spp.), brambles (Rubus spp.), meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), steeple bush (Spiraea tomentosa), American elm (Ulmus americana), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), and grapes (Vitis spp.). The most frequent herbs are twisted sedge (Carex torta), bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis), hemp dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum), and grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia). Other occasional species include bent grasses, goldenrods, violets, smartweeds, panic grasses, swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris), and spotted Joe-pye-weed (Eupatorium maculatum). The weedy invasive plant species Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) occurs in most known examples.
A good example of this community occurs at the Surry Mountain Lake Flood Control Area (Surry).
Willow low riverbanks usually occur as part of larger moderate-gradient sandy-cobbly riverbank systems.
Willow low riverbank along the Saco River in Conway (photo by Ben Kimball)
Willow low riverbank along the South Branch of the Piscataquog in New Boston
(photo by Ben Kimball)
Willow low riverbank along the Merrimack River in Canterbury (photo by Dan Sperduto)
Willow low riverbank along the Saco River in Conway (photo by Dan Sperduto)