Acadian-Appalachian Subalpine Woodland and Heath-Krummholz

These expanses of stunted conifers occur near and slightly above montane treeline in northeastern North America. On higher mountains, this ecological system forms a zone between montane spruce-fir forest and alpine tundra. On mountains that do not reach above treeline, it may cover the ridgelines and summits. In the Appalachians it occurs mostly above 3000 feet elevation but can be at much lower elevations near the North Atlantic Coast. Spruce and fir become progressively stunted as exposure increases, and may form nearly impenetrable "krummholz" (stunted trees) thickets above treeline. The vegetation structure ranges from scattered trees to shrub cover to sparsely vegetated dwarf-shrubs and herbs, interspersed with patches of open rock. Deciduous shrubs such as nannyberry provide cover in somewhat protected areas; dwarf heaths, including Labrador-tea, sheep laurel, bilberry, and lowbush blueberry, are more typical in open areas. Crowberry is a diagnostic and sometimes dominant dwarf-shrub. For more information, see NatureServe Explorer.

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