Tufted bulrush Sweetgale
Trichophorum caespitosum - Myrica gale
n = 31
II.C.2.j.  Sweetgale Graminoid Bog
Ecosystem: Relict Lakebed / Drainageway, Kettle

On the Copper River Delta some sweetgale (Myrica gale) types are documented, but tufted bulrush (Trichophorum caespitosum) is absent (Boggs, 2000).  On Chugach National Forest a tufted bulrush type is described (TRICAE) that has sweetgale in only one of twelve plots (DeVelice, et. al., 1999).  On the Yakutat forelands, about half the tufted bulrush communities visited contained a sweetgale component (Shephard, 1995).  A sweetgale - tufted bulrush type has been documented by Hogan and Tande (1983) and Tande (1983) working around the Anchorage area.  Viereck (1970) describes a similarly named type for the Wood River Lakes.  Unlike at those locales, where sweetgale is dominant and robust, many tufted bulrush sweetgale communities on the Kenai Lowlands have a dominant bulrush component and scattered, low-stature sweetgale.

Tufted bulrush sweetgale is very common on relict glacial lakebeds and drainageways on the Kenai lowlands.  It occupies an intermediate zone between the wettest pools (or on flarks) and the higher, low relief peat ridges between them (strangs).  Tufted bulrush prefers the wetter areas, and sweetgale a little drier, so this type represents a transitional zone; but one that is common.  

At a typical site occupied by this community, bulrush dominates, with scattered low-stature sweetgale.  Dwarf birch (Betula nana) and open water pools are present.  Bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia), tall cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium) and bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) are usually present.  

Organic layers are thick, usually over one meter (40), and often greater than 1.5 meters (60).  The water table is at or very close to the surface.  pH ranged from strongly to moderately acid (5.3-6.0) at the three sites where it was measured.  All sites examined qualified as 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  14 1, 2B2, 3

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
Myrica gale1,2 1.0 16.9 OBL OBL
Betula nana 1.0 7.4 FAC FAC, OBL
Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens   0.5 2.1 FACW FACW
Dasiphora floribunda   0.7 9.3 FAC FAC-, FACW
Empetrum nigrum 0.7 3.5 FAC FACU, FACW
Dwarf shrubs
Andromeda polifolia 0.9 0.9 OBL OBL
Vaccinium oxycoccos 0.9 0.4 OBL OBL
Trichophorum caespitosum   1.0 46.3 OBL OBL
Eriophorum angustifolium   0.9 4.9 OBL OBL
Drosera rotundifolia 0.7 1.0 OBL OBL
Equisetum fluviatile 0.5 2.5 OBL OBL
Swertia perennis 0.5 0.4 FACW FAC+, FACW+
Moss 0.9 85.9
Open water 0.9 3.6
1,2 Plant with known morphological and physiological 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 10:04