Plants of the Cold River Watershed
Payne’s “Resource Inventory of the Cold River Corridor” (August 1996) describes the great diversity of plant species found in the Cold River corridor:
The forests found along the ColdRiver go through several changes as the elevation drops and the river valley broadens.
In the upper reaches above Honey Brook, the valley floor has a northern feel to it. Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and red spruce (Picea rubens) are common. Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), black birch (Betula lenta), yellow birch (Betula allegheninsis), and red maple (Acer rubrum) are also found in these forests. The moist understory contains many species including mountain maple (Acer spicatum), moosewood (Acer pennsylvanicum), canadian yew (Taxus canadensis), and hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolia). Groundcover is also abundant. The most common species found here is the canadian mayflower (Maianthemum canadese), literally carpeting many parts of the woods in the spring. Other abundant species include bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), goldthread (Coptis groenlandica), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), and wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis).
Also in this region there are the marshes in the Keyes Hollow - East Acworth area. Again this area has the feel of being much further north with firs found along the marsh shores. These marshes are a mixture of scrub/shrub and emergent wetland types. Within the marshes can be found speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), arrowwood (Viburnum recognitun), meadowsweet (Spirea latifolia), cattails (Typha latifolia), red maple and tussock sedge (Carex stricta), plus many species of rushes, grasses, and other sedges.
Below Honey Brook, sugar maple (Acer Saccharum) becomes a major component of this forest area. Other important species include white pine (Pinus strobus), hemlock, yellow birch, black birch, beech (Fagus grandifolia) and locally paper birch (Betula papyrifera). On some of the south facing hillsides and areas with sandy soils red oak (Quercus rubra), red maple and white pine dominate the forest.
In the Alstead area, the composition of the forests starts to take on species associated with a southern hardwood forest as the river valley broadens. Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) are found along the river. Red maple, red oak, white pine are the dominant species in this area but mockernut (Caraya tomentosa) and shagbark hickory (Caraya ovata) are now present. White ash (Fraxinus americana) and white oak (Quercus alba) are also becoming more common. The south side of the river is mostly agricultural land.
Below Drewsville, the lower reaches of the ColdRiver corridor has many riparian and mesic condition species growing in the nonagricultural lands. The woodlands are dominated by sugar maple, white ash, and white oak. Mockernut hickory and red maple are also common. Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) are found in the shrub layer in many parts of the forest and on the edge of fields and the river. The herbaceous layer has many species including ostrich fern (Mettecuia struthiopteris), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea, interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana), Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema atrorubens), and several species of wood fern (Dryopteris Spp.). In the more open areas honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), and boxelder (Acer negundo) are found. Along the floodplain, silver maple (Acer saccharinum), cottonwood (Populus deltodies) and sycamoreare common.
On the south side of the valley as you head downstream from Drewsville Gorge the forest retains several of the species common further upstream including white pine, hemlock, beech, and in scattered locations aspen. Hickory becomes scarce. Wood ferns and interrupted fern remain common.