Fewflower sedge - Dwarf birch
Carex pauciflora – Betula nana
n = 14

I.C.2.d./A.3.f/j Shrub Birch Ericaceous Shrub Bog / Subarctic Lowland Sedge Wet Meadow / Bog Meadow

Ecosystem: Relict LakebedKettleRelict Drainageway, Depression


Fewflower sedge (Carex pauciflora) types are not documented in Alaska, although they are common on the Kenai Lowlands.  A new category for the Alaska Vegetation Classification is needed: II.C.2.x. Open Low-Shrub Birch Graminoid Fen.  DeVelice et. al. (1999) describe a "under-represented" fewflower sedge type on Chugach National Forest that has no dwarf birch (Betula nana).  Fewflower sedge is dominant or co-dominant in 5 types represented by 46 plots on the Kenai lowlands.

The fewflower sedge – dwarf birch type occupies a poor fen with nearly complete moss cover.  It is characterized by an open stand of fewflower sedge with uniformly scattered, low-growing dwarf birch.  Three other shrubs are often present in low abundance: bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) and lowbush cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos).  Sometimes, both crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) and Labrador tea (Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens) are also present.  

The soil organic mat averages greater than 1 meter thick.  The water table is typically near the surface, averaging 21 centimeters deep.  At the one plot it was measured, pH was strongly acid (5.4), and is probably typical of these poor fens (bogs have pH’s of either less than 5 (very strongly acid) or 4.5 (extremely acid), depending on the scientist).  This type is often found at higher elevations, often over 300 m (1000’) in the lowlands.  All plots visited are jurisdictional wetlands.   

Table 1. Frequency of occurrence and hydric status of soil series named at NRCS holes.  Bold type indicates soils on the NRCS Alaska hydric soils list. 

   Soil Series n

Hydric Criteria Number

STARICHKOF 13 1, 2B2, 3

Table 2.  Summary of plant frequency and average cover for plants occurring in more than 50% of plots.

        Wetland Indicator Status


f  Average Cover   Alaska National
Shrubs/Stunted trees  
stunted Picea X lutzii   0.6 0.8 np
Betula nana 1.0 10.8 FAC FAC, OBL
Vaccinium uliginosum 0.9 3.7 FAC FACU+, FACW
Vaccinium oxycoccos 0.9 0.3 OBL OBL
Empetrum nigrum 0.8 5.4 FAC FACU, FACW
Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens   0.6 6.3 FACW FACW
Dwarf Shrubs
Andromeda polifolia 0.9 0.5 OBL OBL
Carex pauciflora   1.0 39.3 OBL OBL
Eriophorum angustifolium   0.6 0.7 OBL OBL
Moss 1.0 94.3      
np- not present on the wetland indicator status list


 Introduction and Key to Plant Communities  

Introduction and Key to Ecosystems

    Kenai Hydric Soils    Map Unit Summary    Methods    Glossary

Contact: Mike Gracz
Kenai Watershed Forum 
PO Box 15301
Fritz Creek, AK  99603
The Alaska Natural Heritage Program
Environment and Natural Resource Institute
University of Alaska, Anchorage
707 A Street, Suite 101
Anchorage, Alaska  99501

04 May 2007 09:38