Vegetation Types within the Sunkhaze Meadows
Palustrine Wetlands

Forest stands within the refuge include some old growth forest among relatively recent cuts which took place prior to refuge establishment.  Limited forest management activities, less than 20 acres per year, are planned to maintain some early successional stages while allowing younger forests to age and replace the old growth as it dies naturally.

The peat-dominated palustrine wetlands of Sunkhaze Meadows Refuge contain a wide variety of vegetation.  Refuge wetlands consist of wet meadows, shrub thickets, extensive silver maple floodplain forests, and open freshwater stream habitats along with those plant communities associated with peatlands, such as shrub heaths and wooded cedar and spruce bogs.  In all, eleven vegetation types or subhabitats have been identified.


:  Zone where water collects at the edge of a bog.  Vegetation is variable, but hardwoods dominate where bog vegetation comes in contact with upland.  Vegetation is indicative of semi-minerotrophic conditions.

Forested Bog:

  Forested area with more than 50% tree cover, usually either Black Spruce (Picea mariana) and some Larch (Larix laricina) or Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis).  Trees usually taller than 8 meters with a poorly-developed shrub layer.


   Tree cover 25-50%.  Shrub layer is well-developed with trees.  Shrub Heath usually dominated by Black Spruce.

Shrub Heath: 

 Open area dominated by low shrubs including Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense), Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), and Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum).  May include scattered trees with less than 25% cover).


 Area similar to shrub heath but with more robust shrub growth than Shrub Heath including Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), Witherod (Viburnum cassinoides), and Black Chokeberry (Pyrus melanocarpa).


  Moss, lichen or graminoid-dominated cover type.  Seasonally wet.

River Tree:

  Mature forest along streams and brooks composed of Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Red Oak (Quercus rubra), and Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra).

Wet Meadow: 

  Streamside area dominated by grasses and sedges (Carex sp.) and not more than 25% shrubs, such as Sweet Gale (Myrica gale) and Leatherleaf.  Flooded by high water levels.

Shrub Meadow:

  Streamside areas dominated by graminoid species and small shrubs (no more than 25% shrubs).  Flooded by high waters in April and May.

Shrub Thicket:

  Area dominated by a dense thicket of willow (Salix sp.) or alder (Alnus sp.).

River Lagg:

 Lagg-like area adjacent to streams where peatland meets upland.

Friends of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. PO Box 450.  Milford ME 04461. Email Friends of Sunkhaze Meadows

Sunkhaze Meadows NWR is managed by the staff of Maine Coastal Islands NWR.
PO Box 1735.  9 Water St. Rockland ME 04841. (207) 594-0600

Top to bottom:

Palustrine wetlands at Sunkhaze.
Buckthorn (rhamnus frangula)
Child amid ferns.
Red Maple bud.