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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


Coniferous swamps are forested wetlands dominated by lowland conifers, primarily northern white cedar and tamarack, growing on soils that are saturated during much of the growing season, and that may be temporarily inundated by as much as a foot of standing water. Balsam fir may be a component in some stands. Soils are usually organic (peat/muck) and can vary from nutrient-poor and acid, to fertile and alkaline or neutral. Tamarack typically dominates on the former soils, and northern white cedar on the latter. A continuous sphagnum moss mat is not present. Coniferous swamps occur primarily in and north of the vegetation tension zone. However, several large tamarack swamps occur south of the tension zone.

A coniferous swamp

VEGETATION: This coniferous swamp is dominated by northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) with a groundlayer dominated by cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) and marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris). Other species include yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), black ash (Fraxinus nigra), speckled alder (Alnus incana ssp. rugosa), poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), fowl manna grass (Glyceria striata), a sedge (Carex pedunculata), a sedge (Carex gracillima), northern violet (Viola macloskeyi), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) and jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). Several rare orchids occur in this habitat including the Ram's head lady-slipper (Cypripedium arietinum), a species listed as threatened by the State of Minnesota.

SOILS: Lupton muck (Typic Borosaprists), a very poorly-drained soil with an organic layer greater than 51 inches in depth (and can be many feet in depth). Landscape position is an ancient lakebed in the nearly level, sandy outwash of the Anoka Sandplain.

HYDROLOGY: Lupton muck is typically saturated to the surface. During September through May, the seasonal high water table can vary from 12 inches of standing water to a water table 12 inches below the surface.

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


Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.)
Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea L.)

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