Acadian Near-Boreal Spruce Barrens

Semi-open spruce barrens occur at the southeastern periphery of the boreal forest in northeastern North America. They form on sandplains and coarse glacial outwash. In some places, an irregular ground surface results in wetland pockets interspersed with upland areas. Black spruce is dominant and characteristic; red spruce and hybrids between the two may also occur. White pine or red pine may be present but are generally subordinate to spruce. Jack pine is only rarely present, as this ecological system occurs south of its contiguous range. Dwarf heath shrubs, including Labrador-tea and sheep laurel, are extensive. Lichens, especially reindeer lichens, are often abundant in the ground layer. Even within sites, cover can range from nearly closed forest to sparse trees over a dense heath understory. Fire appears to be important in creating and maintaining this habitat. For more information, see NatureServe Explorer.

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