At the bottom of the slope is a vernal pool. The pools only have water in the spring, so fish cannot survive in it. This creates a safe environment for salamanders, wood frogs and “peepers” to use the pool to lay their eggs; the young need the aquatic environment to survive until they develop into adults and move into the forest.
This tree is a red maple; unlike the sugar maple it does not mind “wet feet,” so we find it here along the wetland. Notice the red color of the new stems that attach this year’s leaves to the twig. One of the first signs of spring are the red flowers on this type of maple. And, in the fall, its leaves turn a beautiful red (sugar maple leaves turn orange). On the opposite side of the trail from the red maple are several sweetferns. They are the low plants with 2 to 3-inch rows of tiny quarter-inch leaflets. Crush them in your fingers and smell them; early Londonderry residents used sweetfern to make a tea.
Nature on the Trail
The large tree directly in front of you is a Red Oak. Oaks are important as “mast” producers’ mast is the edible seeds of a tree. Their acorns are used as a food source by wildlife, both animals and birds. Red Oak is dense. which makes it very good firewood. Its fine but distinct grain makes it valuable for fine furniture and flooring. Notice how the forest is composed mainly of red oak and white pine. While this is common in Londonderry, it is not common in much of NH.