Lutz spruce / Barclay's willow / Ericaceous shrub
Picea X lutzii / Salix barclayi / Ericaceae 
n = 18
I.A.3. Needleleaf woodland
Ecosystem: Discharge Slope


This common Kenai 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 the only investigators to document Lutz spruce (Picea X lutzii) communities in Alaska.  Two communities they name are similar.  Their Lutz spruce / bluejoin(Calamagrostis canadensis) type has a low abundance Barclay's willow component, and infrequent ericaceous shrub representation.  Their only Lutz spruce type with any significant ericaceous component is an upland lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) community (PICLUT / VACVIT), which has little willow cover. 

Lutz spruce / Barclay willow - ericaeous shrub is similar to Lutz spruce / Barclay's willow / field horsetail / crowberry, but lacks field horsetail (Equisetum arvense).  This type is found widely on Kenai Peninsula Lowland foot and toeslopes, mainly south of Ninilchick.  About half of the sites visited cluster on the lower slopes of kames at higher elevation (above 400 meters) near Caribou Lake, and the other half were found near the coast on modified terraces, as far north as the Kenai River.   At this landscape position groundwater discharge, or dense till supports a water table near the surface.

Patchy willow thickets support a spruce woodland with thick ericaceous ground cover.  Forbs are typically sparse; bluejoint grass is occasionally common.  

The organic horizon is generally less than 10 cm thick, though at one site it measured over one meter thick.  Redoximorphic features are frequently found near the surface, and sometimes the water table is encountered at less than 30 cm (one foot).  At the two sites where it was measured, pH was moderately to strongly acid (5.5). This vegetation does not always indicate that wetland criteria are met.  Fifteen of the 21 plots examined met jurisdictional 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
SLIKOK 1 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
tall Picea X lutzii   0.7 11.3 np
medium Picea X lutzii   0.6 14.2 np
regeneration Picea X lutzii   0.8 1.6 np
Salix1 barclayi   0.9 37.0 FAC FAC, FACW
Spiraea stevenii   0.9 6.7 FAC FAC
Low shrubs
Empetrum nigrum 1.0 67.7 FAC FACU, FACW
Betula nana 1.0 26.8 FAC FAC, OBL
Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens   0.6 11.9 FACW FACW
Vaccinium uliginosum 0.6 6.6 FAC FACU+, FACW
Vaccinium vitis-idaea 0.9 8.3 FAC FAC
Calamagrostis canadensis   0.8 7.0 FAC FAC, OBL
Chamerion angustifolium   0.8 1.5 FACU FACU, FAC
Rubus arcticus 0.7 3.3 FAC FAC
Orthilia secunda   0.6 0.6 FACU* UPL, FAC+
Equisetum arvense 0.5 9.0 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Moss 1.0 79.0
Lichen 0.9 1.9
np- not on 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