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Search: Monadnock Vegetation and Vegetation Communities
Upper Left: Hardwood forest, Upper Right: Overlooking Spruce
Lower Center: Above Tree-line Zone by Summit
Mount Monadnock 3 Vegetation Zones
Monadnock can be split into 3 main vegetation zones. A mixed hardwood forest common to southern New Hampshire covers the lower elevations. A spruce forest covers most of the mid-slopes which is typical in the higher ridges of New Hampshire. Above tree-line there is a bush-ledge zone in the high elevations. Fires burned away the forests 200 years ago in the higher elevations making the upper slopes barren. The loss of forest created a more exposed and extreme climate than forested summits. Monadnock's unique extensive above tree-line zone is 1000 feet lower than tree-line for this region. The high elevations of Mount Monadnock has an environment similar to the arctic alpine zone.
At the lower elevations there is a mixed hardwood forest. For example; heading up from route 124 hiking along the Old Toll Rd. on the southern slopes the forest, which is typical of central New England; consisting of Oak (most common tree in U. S.), Beech (smooth bark trees), Birch (white or silver bark trees), with some Pine woods (trees with long evergreen needles), sporadic Maples trees (known for bright red color), and patches of spruce (trees with short sharp evergreen needles). In the summer in the mixed hardwood zone on the lower slopes the forest floor is covered with ferns and undergrowth. In this zone you may notice stone walls crisscrossing the forest which are remnants of when Monadnock's lower slopes were farms and pasture. The forests have regrown over the last century or two since the pastures were abandoned. The forest on the north side of the mountain has a more northern appearance with less Oak but is more mixed. Hardwood trees include Maple Trees which have the brightest fall color, along with birch and beech. Shady stands of pine and hemlock forests (hemlock trees have 1/2 inch flat evergreen needles) with sporadic Balsam Trees (fragrant trees with 1 inch flat evergreen needles) becomes a solid Spruce forest shortly up the mountain such as along the Pumpelly Trail.
Just above the Halfway House site on the trails leading to the Cliff Walk or about 2150 feet elevation the forest gives way to a solid spruce forest with a forest floor of that can be mossy or without ground vegetation. The White Arrow Trail starts as a Spruce-Hardwoods mixed forest just beyond the Halfway House Site. The spruce trees can form dense shady stands.
Heading up the White Arrow Trail until just beyond the Amphitheater Trail or above 2800 feet on the White Arrow Trail the Spruce forest gives way to bare rock with some sporadic spruce and bushes of Birch and Mountain Ash (have clusters of red berries in the fall). There are also blueberry bushes around as well. The mountain gets more barren higher up where there are true arctic alpine plants unique to New England's highest elevations such as Mountain Sandwort which form small clusters of tiny white flowers. In August, Alpine Goldenrod is on display. There is the Three Toothed Cinquefoil (a tiny white flower) and mountain cranberries growing out of cracks in the rocks which are examples of true arctic alpine plants.
Below: Cotton Sedge on Mount Monadnock
Mount Monadnock 7 Vegetation Communities
The three main vegetation zones can further be divided into seven natural community types have been identified and delineated on the slopes of Mount Monadnock:
*Subalpine Rocky Bald
*Sheep Laurel- Heath-Krummholz
*Red Spruce-Heath- Rocky Ridge
*High Elevation Spruce-Fir Forest
*Northern Hardwood-Spruce-Fir Forest
* Birch Beech Maple Forest
*Oak Pine- Hemlock-Beech
The 7 vegetation communities aptly describe Mount Monadnock's unique vegetation, derived on what is commonly found on Monadnock. The zones are based on David Mallard's Antioch University work on Monadnock's vegetation. Within the Mallards (2008) research of the forest communities, a total of 18 species of trees were recorded on the slopes of Mount Monadnock. Arctic Alpine vegetation occurs on Mount Monadnock in the high elevations on the semi-barren exposed ledges. The mid-elevations are dominated by a spruce forest and the lower elevations a mixed hardwood forest. I have detailed descriptions of the 7 Monadnock Vegetation Communities. The Monadnock Vegetation Communities pages describe the beautiful and varied vegetation of Mount Monadnock in great detail.
Below: Rhodora (blossoms late May) on the Smith Connecting Link
The pages on the vegetation communities launched this spring has been revised and updated as of August 2011 to more accurately describe Mount Monadnock's unique vegetation.
Fred Pitcher has had 1325+ varied hikes of Mount Monadnock and has spent years researching Monadnock. All images by Fred Pitcher
"Monadnock Guide", Henry I. Baldwin, ©1970, 1rst edition, published by SPNHF
researched online sources such as "Wikipedia", "Google Images"
"National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England", by Peter Alden and Brian Cassie, 1998 edition, 2005 printing
"A.M.C. Field Guide to the New England Alpine Summits", by Nancy G. Slack and Allison W. Bell, distributed by Globe Pequot Press ©1995
"The Description and Distribution of Natural Communities on Mount Monadnock, NH: Implication in the Face of Climate Change". MS thesis. Antioch University New England, Keene, NH. by David Mallard, 2008
"North Woods, An Inside Look at the Nature of Forests in the Northeast", by Peter J. Marchand, ©1987, distributed by Globe Pequot Press
"New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands/about forests and lands" website
Below: Grand Monadnock
Search: Monadnock Vegetation and Vegetation Communities
Monadnock Trails website: Author, Creator, and photos by Frederick Pitcher 2015
Use of the information on this site is the sole risk of the user. The author is not responsible for the trails or anyone's ability to follow them. In addition to the trails there are certain places in this website described that are off trail. Anyone exploring Monadnock does so at their own risk.
Tags: Monadnock Trails, Monadnock Vegetation, Monadnock Mountain, Mount Monadnock, Monadnock Trails, New Hampshire Vegetation, New Hampshire Hiking, Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Mt Monadnock, NH