Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Wooded subalpine bog/heath snowbank  (S1S2)



Wooded subalpine bog/heath snowbanks
 are found in subalpine settings where deep snows accumulate (e.g., on lee slopes of peaks or near krummholz margins), on borders of bogs (drier parts away from the center), and on slopes where Sphagnum moss grows and peat accumulates. The community is intermediate between wet bogs and heath/krummholz communities. The shrub layer is typically 25-30 cm high (slightly taller than in alpine/subalpine bogs). Peat depths are typically 25-50 cm, and occasionally deeper (to 80 cm). Peat is poorly to moderately well decomposed near the surface. Slopes are mostly 0-8 degrees, but occasionally as steep as 35 degrees.

Characteristic vegetation: Characteristic species include Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), alpine bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), black spruce (Picea mariana), and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Labrador tea is the most common shrub. Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf) is occasional but not abundant (<10% cover). Mosses (including peat mosses) and lichens are occasional or locally abundant. Cladina rangiferina and Cetraria islandica are infrequent.

This community differs from alpine/subalpine bogs by having a generally greater frequency of stunted trees (<2m in height) and heath shrubs including black spruce (Picea mariana) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and an absence of plants that are typically restricted to saturated conditions, such as small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), hare’s-tail (Eriophorum vaginatum), and bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia). Sedges are absent, and peat moss is often but not always present.

This community differs from the sheep laurel - Labrador tea heath - krummholz community by a shallow to moderately deep peat layer (0.25-0.80+ m), the presence of black spruce in abundance, and often the presence of bog-indicator species such as peat moss and leatherleaf.


Good examples of this community occur on Mt. Success, Mt. Moriah, Eagle Crag, Mt. Jackson, Imp. Mtn., and the lee slope of the summit of Mt. Hight.

Wooded subalpine bog/heath snowbanks often occur as part of alpine/subalpine bog systems (sometimes as the only community), and are sometimes associated with subalpine heath - krummholz/rocky bald systems.


Wooded subalpine bog/heath snowbank on Imp Mt. (photo by Dan Sperduto for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Wooded subalpine bog/heath snowbank on Imp Mtn. (photo by Dan Sperduto)

back to Natural Communities of NH Photo Guide