Highbush Blueberry Thicket State Rank: S4 - Secure

highbush blueberries or other Highbush Blueberry Thickets are members of the blueberry dominated by tall, dense , family, on peat or at least have primarily members of the blueberry sphagnum at the base of the family, on hummocky sphagnum moss; shrubs. Acidic Fens are These acidic peatlands are generally dominated by low growing wetter and more mineral- enriched than shrubs, along with sphagnum bog communities; moss and herbaceous species of varying abundance on wet, abundant, with Virginia chain-fern, often weak peat. Shrub pitcher plants, marsh St. John's-wort, Swamps lack peat, are often three-leaved Solomon's seal, wild calla, quite diverse, and are not Highbush Blueberry Thicket behind an Acidic northern water-horehound, and threeway Shrub Fen. Photo: Patricia Swain, NHESP. dominated by blueberries or sedge. A layer of peatmoss is common other ericaceous plants. Fresh/ Description: Highbush Blueberry and varies in cover. Brackish Tidal are dense to season for young birds. In the winter Thickets occur as a border thicket around open shrublands along tidal sections of when the surface is frozen, browsers, more open peatlands or coastal plain coastal rivers. including New England Cottontail, have ponds, and within small, basins or easy access to the shrubs and protection in seasonally flooded zones within larger the dense thickets. wetlands. This community is influenced by a strongly fluctuating water table with Examples with Public Access: flooded conditions in spring and early Punkhorn Parklands (town), Brewster; summer followed by a drop in the water Briar Swamp - Dogtown Commons table below soil surface usually by late (town), Rockport; Quaboag WMA, East summer. The sphagnum mat is variable: it Brookfield. can be thick and stable on peat or as a shallow organic layer often over sand. Or there may be moss on hummocks at the base of shrub stems with unstable muck in the surrounding hollows. Highbush blueberry in flower at the edge of a pond. Photo: Patricia Swain, NHESP. Characteristic Species: Highbush Blueberry Thickets are tall-shrub Differentiating from Related peatlands dominated by dense highbush Communities: The physical and blueberries with swamp azalea, biological characteristics of Highbush winterberry, sweet pepper-bush, and Dense, old, highbush blueberry trunks. Photo: Blueberry Thickets, Acidic Shrub Fen, Patricia Swain, NHESP. scattered red maple as common Shrub Swamp, and Fresh/Brackish Tidal associates. Typical short shrubs include , overlap and intergrade. They for Associated Fauna: leatherleaf, sheep laurel, and dwarf all lack cover (<25% canopy cover); The dense shrubs of Highbush Blueberry huckleberry. The variable herbaceous they are all dominated by dense shrubs on Thickets provide protected nesting habitat layer tends to be sparse. Cinnamon, royal, wet substrates. Highbush Blueberry for many migratory songbirds, with ample Edge of a blueberry thicket on a coastal plain marsh, and sensitive ferns can be locally Thickets are tall-shrub fens, dominated by fruit available during the critical fledging pondshore. Photo: Patricia Swain, NHESP.

From: Classification of Natural Communities of Massachusetts htthttpp://www;mass;gov/nhesp/://www;mass;gov/nhesp/ Updated: 2016 Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Division of FishFisheeriesries & Wildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd;, Westborough, M! 01581 (508) 389-6360