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Vegetation

A wide variety of habitats at Pondicherry, including wetlands, grasslands, and boreal forests, offers one the chance to see many different types of plants, shrubs, and trees along the trails at the refuge.  An excellent guide compiled by the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau details the vegetation found along the Pondicherry Rail Trail, the Shore and Rampart Paths, and the Little Cherry Pond Trail.  The article Birding the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge by David Govatski also has information about vegetation at the refuge and an aquatic plant inventory, published in 2023 by Matt Peters and Brett Engstrom, provides baseline information on the aquatic flora found in the ponds at the refuge. 

Three trees at Pondicherry have been designated as “champion trees” by the New Hampshire Big Tree Program.  This program is part of the American Forests National Big Tree Program and records the largest examples of different tree species in the state.  The refuge is home to the State Champion quaking aspen off the Presidential Rail Trail—an honor shared with two other trees in the area.  There are also two County Champion trees (a gray birch and a big-tooth aspen) on the Little Cherry Pond Trail.  In addition, Pondicherry has two former National Champion trees—a black spruce on the Little Cherry Pond Trail and a white spruce on the Pondicherry Rail Trail.  The black spruce blew down in a fierce wind storm in October 2017; the white spruce died in 2022 from an infestation by turpentine beetles.  Climate change had a major role in the demise of both trees. 

If you would like to learn more about the “big trees” of New Hampshire, see the books Big Trees of New Hampshire (2014) and Big Trees of Northern New England (2022), both written by Kevin Martin and published by Peter Randall Publisher.

Finally, as you explore the refuge, please keep in mind that you are welcome to photograph—but should not pick—any plants you find.

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