Tealeaf willow / Crowberry  
Salix pulchra / Empetrum nigrum  
n = 7
II.C.2.g. Open Low Scrub Willow
Ecosystem: Discharge Slope

This uncommon Kenai Lowlands community is not documented in Alaska.  Several authors have described tealeaf willow (Salix pulchra) types, and two mention ericaceous shrub associates (Stiegers, et. al., 1983 and Brock and Burke, 1980, in Viereck, 1992).  Neither of these is similar to tealeaf willow / crowberry (Empetrum nigrum).

The sites visited are all located on foot-slopes above 300 meters (1200') elevation around the head of Kachemak Bay, mostly around Caribou Lake.  

A patchy, open willow stand covers open, patchy crowberry and birch (Betula nana)Field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) may be common, and scattered bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensistussocks are usually present.  

Most sites have at least a histic epipedon (20 cm of organic material).  Frequently the organic horizon is thick enough to qualify as a histosol (40 cm).  The water table is near the surface.  All sites visited are jurisdictional wetlands.   

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

STARICHKOF 1 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


f  Average Cover   Alaska National
Shrubs/Stunted tree
stunted Picea X lutzii   0.6 7.1 np
Salix1 pulchra 1.0 27.4 np
Low shrubs
Empetrum nigrum 1.0 40.1 FAC FACU, FACW
Betula nana 1.0 28.0 FAC FAC, OBL
Vaccinium uliginosum 0.6 9.4 FAC FACU+, FACW
Vaccinium vitis-idaea 0.7 0.4 FAC FAC
Salix1 fuscescens   0.6 6.8 FACW FACW
Dwarf shrub
Vaccinium oxycoccos 0.7 0.4 OBL OBL
Equisetum arvense 0.9 14.7 FAC* FAC*, FACW-
Calamagrostis canadensis   0.9 3.1 FAC FAC, OBL
Sanguisorba canadensis 0.7 6.7 FACW FACW
Rubus chamaemorus 0.7 5.6 FACW FACW
Chamerion angustifolium   0.6 1.5 FACU FACU, FAC
Polemonium acutiflorum   0.6 0.6 FAC FAC
Moss 1.0 69.3
Lichen 0.7 4.3
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 10:01