Fewflower sedge – Tufted hairgrass
Carex pauciflora – Deschampsia caespitosa  
n = 4
III.A.3.f/j. Subarctic Lowland Sedge Wet Meadow/Bog Meadow
 Ecosystem: Relict Lakebed

Fewflower sedge - tufted hairgrass is not described for Alaska.  The closest type is a manyflower sedge (Carex pluriflora) - Bering’s tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia beringensis) type in a saltmarsh near Valdez (Crow, 1977).  DeVelice et. al. (1999) describe both a fewflower sedge (Carex pauciflora), and a tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa) type, but neither has plants in common with this one; their tufted hairgrass community is a dry grass type.  Fewflower sedge - tufted hairgrass supports high dwarf birch (Betula nana) cover, so fits into a proposed new Vegetation of Alaska (Viereck et al 1992) class: II.C.2.x: “Open Low Shrub Birch- Graminoid Fen”.

On the Kenai Lowlands, fewflower sedge – tufted hairgrass occurs on higher elevation fens, generally above 350 meters (1200’).  

It is similar to the fewflower sedge-dwarf birch type, but has a significant hairgrass component, and higher species diversity.  In addition to the associated plants listed for the former type, field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), Alaska bog willow (Salix fuscescens), stunted Lutz spruce (Picea X lutzii) and Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium acutiflorum) are common.  

The organic horizon is a little thinner, not exceeding 85 centimeters, but the water table is usually at the surface, and open water pools were found at all sites visited.  All four plots measured 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 2 1, 2B3, 3
TRUULI1 1   
1Proposed series, definitely hydric.

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 tree
stunted Picea X lutzii   0.8 1.8 np
Betula nana 1.0 25.0 FAC FAC, OBL
Vaccinium uliginosum 1.0 2.8 FAC FACU+, FACW
Salix1 fuscescens   0.8 2.0 FACW FACW
Dwarf shrubs
Andromeda polifolia 1.0 1.3 OBL OBL
Carex pauciflora   1.0 37.5 OBL OBL
Deschampsia caespitosa2   1.0 16.3 FAC FAC, FACW+
Equisetum arvense 0.8 7.0 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Polemonium acutiflorum   0.8 0.5 FAC FAC
Moss 1.0 58.8
Open water 1.0 4.0
np- not present on the wetland indicator status list
1 Plant with known morphological adaptation for occurrence in wetlands (USACE, 1987)
2Plant with known physiological adaptation for occurrence in wetlands (USACE, 1987)


 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