Fewflower sedge Crowberry
Carex pauciflora Empetrum nigrum   
 n = 8
II.C.2.e. Open Low Scrub Ericaceous Shrub Bog
Ecosystem:  Relict Lakebed

Fewflower sedge (Carex pauciflora) - crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) is a variation of the many crowberry types that are well described for Alaska.  A fewflower sedge - crowberry type has not been described specifically; a manyflower sedge (Carex pluriflora) - crowberry is the most similar (Batten et. al., 1978; Dachowski-Stokes, 1941; Heusser, 1960; and Schierl and Meyer, 1977; DeVelice et.al., 1999; Boggs, 2000).  Although manyflower sedge is common on the Kenai, and dominates two communities, fewflower sedge also fill the role that manyflower sedge occupies elsewhere.  

Typically, fewflower sedge crowberry is a mossy, shrubby, hummocky type with fewflower sedge occupying the microtopographic-lows, sometimes with tall cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium).  Ericaceous shrubs (crowberry, dwarf birch (Betula nana), bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) and often, Labrador tea (Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens)) occupy microtopographic highs, with the herbs, field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) and Labrador lousewort (Pedicularis labradorica).  Often, stunted lutz spruce (Picea X lutzii) are present.  

An organic horizon is usually well developed, averaging over 1 meter thick.  The water table can be deep, but is usually encountered within 40 centimeters of the surface.  At the two plots measured pH was very strongly acid (4.6).  All plots sampled 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 3 1, 2B2, 3
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



 Average Cover

  Alaska National
Shrubs/Stunted tree
stunted Picea X lutzii   0.6 5.7 np
Empetrum nigrum 1.0 26.4 FAC FACU, FACW
Betula nana 1.0 23.6 FAC FAC, OBL
Vaccinium uliginosum 1.0 13.6 FAC FACU+, FACW
Vaccinium oxycoccos 1.0 0.6 OBL OBL
Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens   0.8 6.5 FACW FACW
Carex pauciflora   1.0 39.6 OBL OBL
Rubus chamaemorus 1.0 2.6 FACW    FACW
Equisetum arvense 0.8 5.0 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Pedicularis labradorica   0.8 0.4 FACW FACW
Eriophorum angustifolium   0.6 4.4 OBL OBL
Andromeda polifolia 0.6 2.1 OBL OBL
Moss 0.9 85.0
Lichen 0.6 0.3
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