Feltleaf willow / Bluejoint
Salix alaxensis / Calamagrostis canadensis
n = 3
II.B.(2)a. Open Tall Scrub - Willow
Ecosystem:  Discharge Slope

Feltleaf willow / bluejoint grass is an unusual community of limited extent on the lowlands.  The Alaska Vegetation Classification (Viereck, et. al., 1992) lists seven feltleaf willow (Salix alaxensis) communities, none with bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis) as a co-dominant.  DeVelice et. al. (1999) describe a feltleaf willow type with some bluejoint representation, but with several other co-dominants not found on the Kenai Lowlands.  

Two of the three feltleaf willow / bluejoint sites visited are located in the active floodplain of Sheep Creek near a Bradley Lake power project road, the third is on the small bench created by a huge post-glacial bluff failure event (about 8000 years ago) along the bluff three miles west of Homer.

These three plots share similar landscape features, chronic disturbance levels, and the two co-dominants, but have an otherwise variable plant species composition.  On has high Sitka alder (Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata) cover, another is flooded, probably due to road impeded drainage, while the third, on the small bench, is primarily a feltleaf willow woodland in a bluejoint - marsh horsetail (Equisetum palustre) meadow.  Feltleaf willow is an opportunistic disturbance-loving plant, often found along roadsides and gravel bars.  The plots measured are early successional, and would change species composition if disturbance was eliminated.

Thin organic horizons were encountered at all three sites (maximum = 4 cm).  The water table varies from at the surface to 8 cm deep.   

Table 1. Frequency of soil series occurrence and hydric status at NRCS holes.  Bold type indicates soils on the NRCS Alaska hydric soils list.

  Soil Series n

Hydric Criteria Number



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
regeneration Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa 0.7 8.0 FACU FACU, FACW
Salix1 alaxensis   1.0 40.0 FAC FAC
Calamagrostis canadensis   1.0 29.0 FAC FAC, OBL
Equisetum palustre 0.7 46.5 FACW FACW
Equisetum arvense 0.7 18.0 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Moss 0.7 15.0
Bare soil 1.0 13.8
Open water 0.7 52.5
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 10:00