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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


Open bogs are composed of a carpet of living sphagnum moss growing over a layer of acid peat. Herbs and/or the low shrubs of the heath family (Ericaceae) colonize the sphagnum moss mat. Scattered, usually immature or stunted (dbh less than 6 inches) trees of black spruce and/or tamarack may be present. Lack of forest is probably due to: conditions too wet for the tree species; sphagnum moss mat too thin to support trees; recurrent fires; summer frosts; and/or lack of a seed source for the tree species.

A floating bog mat

VEGETATION: This floating bog mat supports a carpet of sphagnum mosses (Sphagnum magellanicum and Sphagnum spp.), bog sedge (Carex oligosperma), tawny cottongrass (Eriophorum virginicum), three-way sedge (Dulichium arundinaceum), steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), bog rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), large cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), bog buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), broad-leaved cattail (Typha latifolia) and scattered tamarack (Larix laricina).

SOILS: Fibric peat (Histosols), acid. Along the perimeter of the lake basin, the peat mat is thick enough to support tree-size tamarack and black spruce. The mat becomes progressively thinner moving out towards the center of the lake basin until it only consists of a thin mat of sedge roots/rhizomes and layer of sphagnum moss.

HYDROLOGY: A floating mat covering part of Beckman Lake. Peaty soils are saturated to the surface.

LOCATION: Beckman Lake Bog, Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Isanti County, Minnesota.


Sphagnum Moss (Sphagnum magellanicum Brid.)
Wiregrass Sedge (Carex lasiocarpa Ehrh.)
Bog Sedge (Carex oligosperma Michx.)
Tussock Cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum L.)
Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench)
Labrador-tea (Ledum groenlandicum Oeder)
Bog Rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla Link)
Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos L.)
Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea L.)
Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia L.)
Water Arum (Calla palustris L.)
Showy Lady-slipper (Cypripedium reginae Walter)

Previous Section -- IV. Bogs
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Next Section -- Sphagnum Moss (Sphagnum magellanicum Brid.)

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