If you have hiked into the boreal forest zone at 3500ft I am sure that you noticed the balsam fir and red spruce cones. Balsam fir is the preferred food for spruce grouse and browsing for deer and moose. The red spruce provides seeds for red squirrels and makes up 25-50% of the white-winged crossbills diet. Mountain Ash, which is found in both the Northern Hardwood forest and in the Boreal forests provides fruit for ruffed grouse, jays, American robin, thrushes, waxwings, red squirrels, and rodents.
There are over 120 trees and shrubs in New Hampshire that produce mast used by wildlife. Masting is a natural cycle that produces low or moderate crops most years and an abundant crop once every two to five years. Several factors determine whether the season will allow for a large mast: weather, genetics, tree dominance, and mast predators. To maximize mast production of trees, they must be allowed to attain optimum age and diameter required. For example, the optimum age for beech trees is >60 years with 14” dbh (diameter breast height), >50 years with 14” dbh for ash and maples, and 30-100 years with 10” dbh for cherry trees. Hard mast producing trees with mast available to wildlife currently include: beech, oak, sugar maple, mountain ash, cherry, pine, oak, hemlock, fir, and cedar. Shrubs with mast available to wildlife currently include: june-berry, mountain holly, hobblebush, high-bush cranberry, blueberry, raspberry, elderberry, twisted stalk, bilberries, and bunchberry.