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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.  Other resources include a natural community assessment of the Pondicherry Division that was published in 2020 by Brett Engstrom, Marc Lapin, and Matt Peters and an aquatic plant inventory that was published in 2023 by Matt Peters and Brett Engstrom.  In addition, information about vegetation at the refuge can be found in the article Birding the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge by David Govatski. 

There is a Big Tree program in New Hampshire that finds, measures, and designates qualifying trees as "champion trees".  Pondicherry currently has one champion tree--the State Champion quaking aspen off the Presidential Rail Trail (an honor shared with one other tree in the area).  There are also several former champion trees at the refuge, including two former National Champions that sadly have died—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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