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Western Wetland Flora

Field Office Guide to Plant Species

speckled alder

USDA - Soil Conservation Service
West National Technical Center
Portland, Oregon

The swampbuster provision of the Food Security Act of 1985 requires the Soil Conservation Service to make wetland/converted wetland determinations based on the presence of hydric soils and hydrophytic vegetation. This is necessary to assist the United States Department of Agriculture program agencies in determining producer eligibility for USDA program benefits. The material contained in this illustrated wetland guide will enable persons, regardless of their botanical background, to identify the plants included in this guide.

Three hundred species of vascular plants were chosen for inclusion in this guide by the Planning Staff of the Soil Conservation Service West National Technical Center in Portland, Oregon, after consultation with each Soil Conservation Service state biologist in the western region.

This resource is based on the following source:

U.S. Department of Agriculture.  No date.  Western wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species.  U.S.D.A. Soil Conservation Service, West National Technical Center, Portland, Oregon.  Unpaginated.

This resource should be cited as:

U.S. Department of Agriculture.  No date.  Western wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species.  U.S.D.A. Soil Conservation Service, West National Technical Center, Portland, Oregon.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. (Version 16JUL1997).

Organization and Use of this Guide

The 300 plant species in this guide are arranged by groups. Within each group they are further arranged alphabetically by genus, and then alphabetically by species within each genus. The top of each page gives the common and scientific names of the plant, following the National List of Plant Species that Occur in Wetlands: Regions 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 0, and A, prepared by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 1988. The scientific name consists of two Latin names. The first is called the genus name, the second is the species. After these two Latin names is one or more abbreviation(s) that stand for the name (or names) of the botanist(s) who first gave the plant its correct name. These abbreviated names are referred to as the authority.

Also found on each page is one or more colored photograph(s) of the species and a map showing the distribution of the species in the United States. The distribution map was compiled after consultation of all existing floras of the United States. The map gives only a general range of the species. A state which is completely covered by the pattern does not necessarily mean that the plant occurs in every county, although it might be expected in every county.

The next section of each page is devoted to a description of the plant, including the months of the year that the flower is in bloom, characteristics of the habitat in which it is found, the growth form, stems. leaves, flowers (sepals, petals, stamens, pistils), fruits, and seeds. Useful or other features of the plant are included under Notes. Under the category entitled Field Marks is the combination of characters that distinguishes the species from any others. The remainder of the each page has a black-and-white illustration of the entire plant and, as needed, a close-up illustration of one of the parts of the plant.

To use the guide, one identifies the plant to group. either with the key or from experience and prior knowledge, and then refers to the plant description. If the plant is not encountered in the descriptions, it is obviously not covered by this guide, and the investigator must consult other references.

Illustrated Glossary of Floral Terms

Species List and Identification Key


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