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Bugs and Blooms of the Bog

Posted on by Jackie Raiford, New Hampshire State Parks Intern

A soggy bog might not be your first choice of places to spend a sunny morning in June, but I have a feeling a stroll along the Ponemah Bog boardwalk might change your mind. Who knew that these “peatlands” could be such beautiful places?I was introduced to the bog by its steward Jack Gleason of New Hampshire Audubon, whose passion for this rare natural community is impressive. The hike was part of the Friends of Ponemah summer field trip series, a great opportunity to learn more about the bog’s birds and blooms.

Ponemah Bog Moss

A floating mat of Sphagnum moss

What’s so special about a bog? It has everything to do with its natural history. Beginning 18,000 years ago retreating glaciers punched round “kettle-hole” depressions in the earth. Rain and snow pooled in the craters left in the glacier’s wake. The colonization of peat moss created the bog, and over thousands of years it layered to form floating mats along its edges.

Carnivorous Pitcher Plant

A carnvirous pitcher plant with snared fly

A unique plant community grows right upon the ancient moss beds. There are cranberries, laurels, and rare orchids adapted to this acidic and nutrient poor soil. Some plants even create their own fertilizers by preying upon insects.

Dragonfly on BoardwalkDespite the unforgiving acidity and lack of nutrients the bog is a vibrant place. Song sparrows warble in the trees and dragonflies hum above the boardwalk. White and pink flowers speckle a mossy lawn of green and red. Little yellow mushrooms protrude like candles from the rot of logs. A careful eye finds many small treasures.

Ponemah Bog MushroomIf you’re looking for something a little unusual, you’ll find it here at Ponemah. This is New Hampshire in a whole new way.Ponemah Bog

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About Jackie Raiford, New Hampshire State Parks Intern

I'm a graduate student working towards my Masters in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. My research interests include the conservation of urban green spaces for the physical and psychological health of communities. I lived for the first 24 years of my life in Rockville, Maryland just north of Washington D.C. I have traveled a little both domestically and abroad, and lived for six months in Australia. I also work as a dance and fitness instructor, and am certified by the American Council on Exercise. View all posts by Jackie Raiford, New Hampshire State Parks Intern →
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