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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


Shrub-carrs are plant communities composed of tall, deciduous shrubs growing on saturated to seasonally flooded soils. They are usually dominated by willows and/or red-osier dogwood, and sometimes silky dogwood. The groundlayer typically includes some of the ferns, sedges, grasses and forbs of sedge meadow and fresh (wet) meadow communities. The diversity of species composing the groundlayer is dependent on degree of shrub canopy cover, degree of disturbance, and water source. For example, disturbed shrub-carrs may have a groundlayer dominated by a single species -- reed canary grass. Relatively undisturbed shrub-carrs, such as the example shown by the photograph, may have a groundlayer that includes a rich diversity of species.

Shrub-carrs are common both north and south of the vegetation tension zone. Artificial drainage and suppression of fire are two factors that promote expansion of shrub-carr communities into inland fresh meadows.

A shrub-carr

VEGETATION: This shrub-carr is dominated by slender willow (Salix gracilis) and pussy willow (Salix discolor) with a groundlayer dominated by hummock sedge (Carex stricta), lake sedge (Carex lacustris) and Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis). Other species present include beaked willow (Salix bebbiana), sandbar willow (Salix exigua), red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), joe-pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), swamp aster (Aster lucidulus), redstem aster (Aster puniceus), fowl bluegrass (Poa palustris), marsh milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), American vetch (Vicia americana), marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris) and purple-fringed orchis (Platanthera psycodes).

SOILS: Rifle muck (Typic Borohemists), a very poorly-drained soil with an upper organic layer greater than 51 inches in depth. Landscape position is a depression within gently rolling terrain.

HYDROLOGY: Primarily groundwater and, to a much lesser extent, overland runoff. Rifle muck is typically saturated to the surface and may have as much as 6 inches of standing water after spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events.

LOCATION: Morrison County, Minnesota.


Pussy Willow (Salix discolor Muhl.)
Beaked Willow (Salix bebbiana Sarg.)
Sandbar Willow (Salix exigua Nutt.)
Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera Michaux)
Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum Miller)
Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis L.)
Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.)
Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula L.)
Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba DuRoi)
Stalk-grain Sedge (Carex stipata Muhl.)

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