Earth Partnership for Schools


WOODLAND PLANT COMMUNITY - NORTHERN WET WOODLAND

 

Tamarack/Spruce Conifer Swamp

Physical Environment: Northern wet woodlands are subject to frequent flooding and high water tables.

Topography: Conifer swamps grow in wet, lowland areas including flood plains, bogs, areas along sluggish streams, glacial kettles, potholes, and basins in areas of ground moraines.

Microclimate: Light intensity is low under the canopy of white cedar. Light intensity is high under the canopy of tamarack, especially in the spring before the leaves are out. The ground may still be frozen in June while plants are flowering due to the insulating qualities of sphagnum moss. By the same token, the ground sometimes doesn't freeze until February.

Composition: Species listed below are most likely found in the community.

Dominant Trees: Black spruce and tamarack. Black spruce is absent in conifer swamps growing in southern Wisconsin.

Common Trees: White cedar, balsam fir, and jack pine.

Typical Shrubs: Bog rosemary, Labrador tea.

Prevalent Groundlayer: Cotton grass, three-leaved Solomon's seal, snowberry, and thin-leaved bilberry. Most groundlayer species have small, inconspicuous flowers. Sphagnum moss is abundant. The well-known insectivorous plants, pitcher plant and sundew, are members of the northern wet forest.

Structure: Young forests may contain pure stands of black spruce on peat beds or pure stands of tamarack surrounding open water. Often dense patches of canopy trees are interspersed with open spaces filled with low-growing evergreen shrubs such as bog rosemary, Labrador tea, leatherleaf, and wintergreen.

Soil: Peat soils. Fine clay to coarse sand. Moderately poor to very poor drainage.

Major Soil Series: Greenwood, Dawson

Summary of Soil Analysis:

W.R.C.

670%

p H

4.7

Ca

755 p.p.m.

K

109 p.p.m.

P

14 p.p.m.

NH4

23 p.p.m.

Stability: Very stable. May be succeeded by northern wet-mesic or boreal forest under some circumstances.
Typical Number of Species: Trees 15, Shrubs 43, Herbs 150, Total 208
Species Density: 34
Guild SE ES LS SV WA WG DI MY EV
Average Proportion 0% 35% 34% 26% 0% 0% 1% 0% 5%
Guild Key: SE = Spring Ephemeral; ES = Early Summer; LS = Late Summer;
SV = Shrub/Vine; WA = Winter Annual; WG = Wintergreen; DI = Dimorphic; MY = Mycotrophic; EV = Evergreen
Wildlife: Olive-sided flycatcher, yellow-bellied flycatcher, spruce grouse, three-toed northern woodpecker, golden-crowned kinglet, goshawk, gray jay, and black bear.
Typical Examples: Cedarburg Swamp S.A., many examples in Northern Highlands State Forest.
Geographical Distribution: Glaciated regions of NE North America, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, New York, New England, and Quebec.