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NE Pine Barrens description

Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, also known as “pine plains,” “sand plains,” “pinelands,” and “pine bush,” occur throughout the Northeast from New Jersey to Maine. These barrens are characterized by excessively drained soils and by several plant species which are highly flammable and/or have adaptations to survive or regenerate after fire.

Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens are among the rarest and most imperiled natural community types in the United States, and they support a number of rare species, including lepidopterans such as the Karner blue butterfly ( Lycaeides melissa samuelis ) and the barrens buckmoth ( Hemileuca maia ), and plants such as the Sand-plain Gerardia ( Agalinis acuta ).

In the Northeast, researchers, land managers, and conservation organizations are working together to learn and apply the best ways to promote, maintain, and restore these unique ecosystems. Management techniques include the use of mechanical treatments (mowing, grazing, thinning), herbicides, and prescribed fire.

Author: William Patterson, UMASS – Description of NE Pine Barrens





Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samueli ) photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS





Barrens buckmoth (Hemileuca maia)





Sand-plain Gerardia (Agalinis acuta)


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