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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


Bogs are a specialized wetland type found on saturated, acid peat soils that are low in nutrients. They support a unique assemblage of trees, low shrubs and herbs growing on a mat of sphagnum moss (Curtis 1971). In Minnesota and Wisconsin, most bogs are found north of the vegetation tension zone.

Bogs are one stage in succession from open water lake to climax mesic hardwood forest (Curtis 1971). The bog originates on a floating mat of sedges that becomes colonized by sphagnum mosses. As the mat gradually thickens and becomes more stable, it is invaded by the evergreen shrubs of the heath family (Ericaceae). Eventually, tamarack and black spruce can be supported by the mat. The final stage of succession is, theoretically, climax mesic hardwood forest. Note that succession is rarely without interruption. It is typically a series of advancements and setbacks, primarily due to fire and/or changes in water levels. These changes may be a cyclic, rather than a linear, type of vegetation development (Niering 1994). Also note that there are similar successional patterns for other wetland plant communities.

The values and uses of bogs include habitat for threatened/endangered species, harvesting of sphagnum moss, aesthetics, and conversion to commercial cranberry and wild rice production.

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