Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Vascular Plants

Plants of Wisconsin

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Natural Communities
Keyword: Sand Dunes


Click on community name for photo gallery.

Great Lakes beach
This beach community usually occurs in association with active dune systems. The beaches of the Great Lakes are extremely dynamic features, strongly influenced by water level changes and storm events. They support a suite of very specialized organisms, although unprotected shorelines may be entirely unvegetated. The plant species found in this community include (along Lake Michigan) seaside spurge (Euphorbia polygonifolia) and American sea-rocket (Cakile edentula).

Inland beach
The beaches of inland lakes that experience enough water level fluctuation to prevent the development of a stable shoreline forest or other community may, instead support a specialized biota adapted to sandy or gravelly littoral habitats. The shorelines of such lakes (usually seepage lakes) may be subject to fluctuations of as much as several meters over a few years or decades. The alternation of high and low periods maintains populations of the beach specialists over time, including some rare species of unusual geographic affinity such as the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the eastern United States.

Interdunal wetland
Wind-created hollows that intersect the water table within active dune fields along the Great Lakes. These maybe colonized by wetland plants, including habitat specialists that are of high conservation significance. Common members of this wetland community on Lake Superior are twig-rush (Cladium mariscoides), species of rushes (especially Juncus balticus), pipewort (Eriocaulon septangulare), the sedge (Carex viridula), ladies-tress orchids (Spiranthes sp.) and bladderworts (Utricularia cornuta and U. resupinata).


Offsite resources:
Virginia Kline's collection of the Vegetation of Wisconsin
Michigan Natural Features Inventory Community descriptions

Vascular Plants

Plants of Wisconsin

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