Sweetgale Livid sedge
Myrica gale Carex livida  
n = 16
II.C.2.j.  Sweetgale Graminoid Bog
Ecosystem: Relict Lakebed / Drainageway

This community is commonly described for Alaska.  Livid sedge (Carex livida), however, is not frequently mentioned specifically; only once in the Vegetation of Alaska (Viereck, et. al., 1992), and not at all in the Chugach Forest (DeVelice, et. al., 1999) or Copper River (Boggs, 2000) classifications.  At the mouth of the Kenai river, Rosenberg (1986) describes a broader community to include buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), or creates a narrower type with tall cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium).

Sweetgale (Myrica gale) - livid sedge occurs widely on the Kenai Lowlands, but always near the coast.  Low, open sweetgale cover on topographical micro-highs is interspersed with livid sedge on the lower spots, usually with open water.  

These two plants occupy distinct zones at the edges of pools, or sometimes in the center of drainageways, with livid sedge occurring emergent from the pool, and sweetgale occupying higher positions.  The landscape is often heterogeneous enough, however, to cause them to intermingle as a community.  Bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) and dwarf birch (Betula nana) are common associates.  

The peat layer is often deeper than our 1.5 meter measurement limit.  Standing water is often present, and the average depth of the water table is 14 cm.  Soils are moderately to strongly acid, (average pH = 5.5).  These plots all qualify as 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 6 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
Myrica gale1,2 1.0 30.0 OBL OBL
Betula nana 0.8 2.4 FAC FAC, OBL
Dwarf Shrub
Andromeda polifolia 1.0 2.7 OBL OBL
Carex livida   1.0 23.5 OBL OBL
Menyanthes trifoliata1 0.6 1.6 OBL OBL
Moss 0.7 53.9
Open water 0.8 10.8
1 Plant with known morphological adaptation for occurrence in wetlands (USACE, 1987)
Plant 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 09:50