Lutz spruce / Barclay's willow / Field horsetail
Picea X lutzii / Salix barclayi / Equisetum arvense
n = 9
I.2.A.  Open Needleleaf Forest
Ecosystem: Discharge Slope, Riparian


This is a previously undescribed plant community.  Lutz spruce (Picea X lutzii) types are poorly documented in Alaska.  Previously described Sitka and white spruce (Picea sitchensis and P. glauca) types can be similar, however, Barclay's willow (Salix barclayi) forested types are not described in the literature.  DeVelice et. al. (1999) working on Chugach National Forest, adjacent to the Kenai lowlands, have listed one “undersampled” Lutz spruce - Barclay's willow type.  Additionally, they describe a Lutz spruce / bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis) type that has significant, but low abundance components of Barclay's willow and field horsetail (Equisetum arvense).

This community is widespread, and common on the Kenai Peninsula lowlands.  It is found primarily on footslopes, usually along drainage margins, but also at the edges of poor fens at high elevation (above 350 m (1100 feet)).  On these slopes groundwater discharge, or a dense till supports a water table near the surface. 

An open to woodland, medium to tall-stature spruce forest, now largely killed by spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis), tops a moderately open Barclay's willow shrub layer.  Field horsetail, or occasionally woodland horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum), dominates an interrupted and diverse herb layer.  Dwarf birch (Betula nana) and the ericaceous shrubs crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) are present in low abundance, as are the forbs Canadian burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis) and fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium).  Bluejoint grass is sometimes abundant.  

Organic layers are always less than 20 cm thick, and the water table, or evidence of it, is usually less than 30 cm below the surface.  This type does not always indicate a wetland; although six of the nine sample plots meet jurisdictional wetland criteria.

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

SPENARD     2 2B3
STARICHKOF 1 1, 2B2, 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
tall Picea X lutzii   0.7 27.5 np
medium Picea X lutzii   0.6 8.0 np
regeneration Picea X lutzii   0.8 1.0 np
Salix1 barclayi   1.0 27.8 FAC FAC, FACW
Spiraea stevenii   0.8 5.0 FAC FAC
Low Shrubs
Empetrum nigrum 0.9 3.3 FAC FACU, FACW
Vaccinium vitis-idaea 0.9 0.7 FAC FAC
Betula nana 0.7 8.4 FAC FAC, OBL
Chamerion angustifolium   1.0 0.9 FACU FACU, FAC
Sanguisorba canadensis 0.9 7.7 FACW FACW,
Equisetum arvense 0.8 33.0 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Calamagrostis canadensis   0.8 24.1 FAC FAC, OBL
Trientalis europaea 0.8 0.3 FAC FAC*, FAC
Equisetum sylvaticum 0.7 10.2 FACU FACU, FACW
Rubus arcticus 0.7 3.2 FAC FAC
Linnaea borealis 0.7 2.1 FACU FACU-, FAC
Cornus suecica 0.7 1.1 FAC FAC
Rubus pedatus   0.6 18.4 FAC* FACU*, FAC*
Polemonium acutiflorum   0.6 0.3 FAC FAC
Rubus chamaemorus 0.6 0.3 FACW FACW
Moss 1.0 73.9
Lichen 0.9 0.3
np- not present on the wetland indicator status list
1 Plant with known morphological 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 09:52