Lutz spruce / Barclay's willow / Field horsetail / Crowberry
Picea X lutzii / Salix barclayi / Equisetum arvense / Empetrum nigrum
n = 44
I.A.3. Woodland Needleleaf Forest
Ecosystem: Discharge Slope


This common Kenai Peninsula Lowland type is little described elsewhere.  Only on Chugach National Forest, where DeVelice et. al. (1999) mention a Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) / Barclay's willow (Salix barclayi) “undersampled” type, is any needleleaf forest with Barclay's willow named.  They are also the only workers to document Lutz spruce communities.  Their Lutz spruce (Picea X lutzii) / bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis) type has some Barclay's willow and field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), but at low abundance, while their Lutz spruce / field horsetail type has virtually no Barclay's willow.  Their only Lutz spruce type with any significant crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) component is an upland lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) community (PICLUT / VACVIT).

The Lutz spruce / Barclay's willow / field horsetail / crowberry plant community is frequently found on toe-slopes at the edges of relict glacial lakebed fens south of Clam Gulch.  It is also found at higher elevations away from fen edges and sometimes on steeper stream valley walls.  

A woodland of tall or medium-stature spruce grows amongst an open to moderate willow shrubland with a moderate horsetail herb layer and abundant crowberry ground cover.  Dwarf birch (Betula nana) can be abundant, and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is usually present.  Scattered lower-stature bluejoint is present, as well as the dwarf herb, cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus).  Other shrubs are typically common, especially spiraea (Spiraea stevenii), bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), and Labrador tea (Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens). A diverse assemblage of forbs is scattered, often with one or two sedges (Carex spp.) present.  

Organic mat thickness varies; at about half the sites visited it is thick enough to qualify as an organic soil (greater than 40 cm).  The water table is usually less than 30 cm (one foot) and often less than 20 cm from the surface at least part of the year.  At the only site where it was measured, pH was moderately acid (5.9).  This plant community is not always a wetland indicator, but 36 of the 44 sites we examined met the soils criteria for 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 8 1, 2B2, 3
SLIKOK 7 2B3, 3
1Proposed series, definitely hydric
2Proposed series, hydric status unknown

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
medium Picea X lutzii   0.6 6.9 np
regeneration Picea X lutzii   0.6 1.5 np
Salix1 barclayi   1.0 40.8 FAC FAC, FACW
Spiraea stevenii   0.7 2.8 FAC FAC
Vaccinium uliginosum 0.6 10.8 FAC FACU+, FACW
Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens   0.6 7.3 FACW FACW
Low shrubs
Empetrum nigrum 1.0 35.8 FAC FACU, FACW
Betula nana 1.0 17.0 FAC FAC, OBL
Vaccinium vitis-idaea 0.9 2.1 FAC FAC
Dwarf shrub
Vaccinium oxycoccos 0.6 0.5 OBL OBL
Equisetum arvense 1.0 35.5 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Rubus chamaemorus 0.9 13.5 FACW FACW
Calamagrostis canadensis   0.9 8.6 FAC FAC, OBL
Sanguisorba canadensis 0.5 5.5 FACW FACW,
Carex disperma 0.5 6.8 FACW* FACW*, OBL
Moss 1.0 84.1
Lichen 0.7 0.6
Open water 0.6 1.4
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