Earth Partnership for Schools


WOODLAND PLANT COMMUNITY - NORTHERN WET MESIC WOODLAND

 

White Cedar/Balsam Fir Conifer Swamp or Black Ash/Yellow Birch/Hemlock Hardwood Swamps

Physical Environment: The water table is usually below the surface except in the springtime; pools of water may remain in low spots.

Topography: Lowland areas including flood plains, bogs, areas along sluggish streams and lake margins, glacial kettles, potholes, and basins in areas of ground moraines.

Microclimate: Light intensities are low under the conifer canopy. Temperatures are cool, and humidity is high. The ground is wet and spongy under foot.

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

Dominant Trees: White cedar, balsam fir.

Common Trees: Hemlock, yellow birch, and black ash. American elm was once common. Today, Dutch elm disease wipes out most trees larger than saplings.

Typical Shrubs: Bog laurel, bog rosemary, and Labrador tea.

Prevalent Groundlayer: Wild sarsaparilla, Canada mayflower, woodfern, sweet-scented bedstraw, and sedge.

Structure: Dense clumps of white cedar create a dark, shady environment limiting the growth of other species to openings in the canopy. Trees and shrubs are scattered among the dense cedar clumps. The shallow rooted white cedar easily tumbles in the wind; the downed logs create a tangled forest. Branches on the logs continue growing, and the trunk sprouts new roots resulting in straight rows of even-aged cedars. Large numbers (20,000 per acre) of small seedlings grow in this forest. Frequently, red oak acorns brought in by birds or mammals germinate and flourish for one to two years on food reserves of the acorn, then expire. Non-flowering plants, such as mosses, liverworts, ferns, and lichens carpet the ground and trunks of trees. This textured carpet resembles miniature fairyland landscapes.

Stability: Very stable. Succeeded by northern mesic forest.

Soil: Peat and moist mineral soils.

Major Soil Series: Greenwood, Dawson.

 

Summary of Soil Analysis:

W.R.C.

495%

p H

5.5

Ca

3780 p.p.m.

K

84 p.p.m.

P

9 p.p.m.

NH4

18 p.p.m.

Typical Number of Species: Not available from Vegetation of Wisconsin
Species Density: 48
Guild SE ES LS SV WA WG DI MY EV
Average Proportion 0% 38% 32% 22% 0% 0% 1% 0% 7%
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: Cedar waxwing, brown creeper, northern saw-whet owl, alder flycatcher, hermit thrush, northern waterthrush, Canada warbler, black-throated green warbler. Cedar swamps are favorite wintering grounds for white-tailed deer. Deer gather in tight social groups in areas called deer yards.
Typical Examples: Trout Lake Cedar Swamp S.A., Point Beach State Park.
Geographical Distribution: Glaciated regions of NE North America, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, New York, New England, and Quebec.