This shrubland ecological system is found within the zone of continuous forest in the upper montane and lower subalpine zones of the northern Rocky Mountains. Soils tend to be moist to wet. Stands are typically initiated by fires and will persist on sites for long periods because of repeated burns and changes in the presence of volatile oils in the soil which impedes tree regeneration. Menziesia ferruginea, Rhamnus alnifolia, Ribes lacustre, Rubus parviflorus, Alnus viridis, Rhododendron albiflorum, Sorbus scopulina, Sorbus sitchensis, Vaccinium myrtillus, Vaccinium scoparium, and Vaccinium membranaceum are the most common dominant shrubs, occurring alone or in any combination. Other shrubs can include Shepherdia canadensis and Ceanothus velutinus, but these also commonly occur in Northern Rocky Mountain Montane-Foothill Deciduous Shrubland (CES306.994). Rubus parviflorus and Ceanothus velutinus are occasionally present, being more common in montane shrublands than in this subalpine system. Important forbs include Xerophyllum tenax, Chamerion angustifolium, and Pteridium aquilinum, reflecting the mesic nature of many of these shrublands.
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