Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Alpine Vegetation in the White Mountains

As 95-South was bumper-to-bumper for the fourth, Ashley and I had a care-free ride up north to the presidential range in the White Mountains National Forest. We spent the night in AMC's Joe Dodge Lodge for an easy exit onto Tuckerman's Ravine Trail to summit Mount Washington today. We knew the weather and visibility would be great, but nothing could've prepared us for such a colorful display of blooming alpine vegetation. The White Mountains are known to have over a dozen fine-scale alpine communities with hundreds of species. Leaving the Krummholz behind, we made our way up to Lion's Head lookout where the vegetation began to shift to low-growing alpine species.

It wasn't long before we found sporadic species in the cracks of granite and schist.
          
Purple mountain-heath (Phyllodoce caerulea) and pincushion plant (Diapensia lapponica).

 Greenland stitchwort (Minuartia groenlandica)

Tufted clubsedge (Trichoophorum cespitosum)

 A terrible picture of moss-plant (Harrimanella hypnoides)


Before arriving at the junction from Lion's Head trail to Mount Washington, we came across a lush alpine snowmelt meadow filled with diversity. 

Bog labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum)

A diverse snowmelt meadow overlooking Tuckerman's Ravine filled with bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Indian hellebore (Viratrum viride), and many more.

 Little bluet (Houstonia caerulea)

 
  Blue-eyed lily (Clintonia borealis) among long beech fern (Phegopteris connectilis).

 Alpine azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens)

 Mountain avens (Geum peckii)

     
Bigelow’s sedge (Carex bigelowii) and Highland rush (Juncus trifidus)


Bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia)


 Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) is often associated with waste lands, but grows sporadically in high-quality alpine habitats where windthrow, rockslide, and avalanches have occured.

After hours of botanizing, we finally made it to the summit of Mount Washington. 

What a trip!