Sweetgale Shrubby cinquefoil
Myrica gale Dasiphora floribunda  
n = 27
II.C.2.d. Open Low Shrub Birch - Ericaceous Shrub Bog.
Ecosystem: Relict Lakebed


This type has been described on the Kenai lowlands (Rosenberg, 1986) and elsewhere in Alaska, although shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora floribunda) is uncommon as a co-dominant. It is not present on the Chugach National Forest (DeVelice, et. al., 1999) or Copper River (Boggs, 2000) species lists.

Sweetgale (Myrica gale) - shrubby cinquefoil is a widespread and common plant community, especially on slightly elevated strangs on relict glacial lakebeds.  Strangs are linear ridges 1-2 m high oriented perpendicular to groundwater flow.  For more information on patterned fens, see the relict glacial lakebed ecosystem description.   

Sweetgale dominates a low shrubby community, with lower amounts of shrubby cinquefoil and dwarf birch (Betula nana).  Bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) is frequently present, along with trace amounts of bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia).  Tall cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium) can be common.  Where strangs are absent this community can be present as a broad, homogeneous stand with open water in micro-topographic low-spots. 

Peat is usually over a meter deep, and the water table is typically within 20 cm of the surface, although at two sites it was encountered at almost a meter deep.  At the three sites where it was measured, pH is moderately acid (5.8).  All the plots visited 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 10 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 2.7 np
Myrica gale1,2 1.0 27.2 OBL OBL
Dasiphora floribunda   1.0 19.4 FAC FAC-, FACW
Betula nana 1.0 13.1 FAC FAC, OBL
Vaccinium uliginosum 0.7 2.2 FAC FACU+, FACW
Empetrum nigrum 0.6 5.2 FAC FACU, FACW
Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens   0.6 3.7 FACW FACW
Dwarf Shrubs
Andromeda polifolia 0.7 0.6 OBL OBL
Vaccinium oxycoccos 0.6 0.3 OBL OBL
Eriophorum angustifolium   0.7 3.0 OBL OBL
Equisetum fluviatile 0.6 3.9 OBL OBL
Swertia perennis 0.6 0.6 FACW FAC+, FACW+
Equisetum arvense 0.6 6.4 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Rubus chamaemorus 0.6 5.7 FACW FACW
Moss 0.9 86.1
Open water 0.7 5.9
np- not present on the wetland indicator status list
1,2 Plant with known morphological and 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