Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Vascular Plants

Plants of Wisconsin

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Natural Communities
Keyword: Sedge Meadow


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Calcareous fen
An open wetland found in southern Wisconsin, often underlain by a calcareous substrate, through which carbonate-rich groundwater percolates. The flora is typically diverse, with many calciphiles. Common species are several sedges (Carex sterilis and C. lanuginosa), marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris), shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa), shrubby St. John's-wort (Hypericum kalmianum), Ohio goldenrod (Solidago ohioensis), grass-of-parnassus (Parnassia glauca), twig-rush (Cladium mariscoides), brook lobelia (Lobelia kalmii), boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), swamp thistle (Cirsium muticum), and asters (Aster spp.). Some fens have significant prairie or sedge meadow components, and intergrade with those communities.

Coastal plain marsh
Sandy to peaty-mucky lakeshores, pondshores, depressions, and ditches in and around the bed of extinct glacial Lake Wisconsin may harbor assemblages of wetland species including some which are significantly disjunct from their main ranges on the Atlantic Coastal Plain. There is often a well-developed concentric zonation of vegetation. Frequent members of this community are sedges in the genera Cyperus, Eleocharis, Fimbristylis, Hemicarpha, Rhynchospora and Scirpus; rushes (Juncus spp.); milkworts (Polygala cruciata and P. sanguinea), toothcup (Rotala ramosior), meadow-beauty (Rhexia virginica), grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia), hardhack (Spiraea tomentosa), lance-leaved violet (Viola lanceolata), and yellow-eyed grass (Xyris torta).

Northern sedge meadow
This open wetland community is dominated by sedges and grasses. There are several common subtypes: Tussock meadows, dominated by tussock sedge (Carex stricta) and Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis); Broad-leaved sedge meadows, dominated by the robust sedges (Carex lacustris and/or C. utriculata); and Wire-leaved sedge meadows, dominated by such species as woolly sedge (Carex lasiocarpa) and few-seeded sedge (C. oligosperma). Frequent associates include marsh bluegrass (Poa palustris), manna grasses (Glyceria spp.), panicled aster (Aster lanceolatus), joy-pye-weed (Eupatorium maculatum), and the bulrushes (Scirpus atrovirens and S. cyperinus).

Sand meadow
A seasonally dry, seasonally wet to inundated, open, grass-, sedge-, moss-, and forb-dominated community that develops on level sandy-peaty soils of old glacial lake beds and outwash plains. The root zone remains moist, owing to a perched water table caused by impermeable silts or clay beneath the surface sands. The community usually occurs as small patches in gaps, or on the margins of, more extensive jack pine and/or Hill’s oak-dominated communities, or along game trails through Central Sedge Poor Fens. In pre-settlement times, this community might have been maintained by periodic catastrophic fires, or perhaps by the trails and wallows associated with the pre-settlement megafauna (e.g. elk, bison). Most extant EOs occur where anthropogenic disturbances such as trail, road, and railroad maintenance activities, or maintenance of mossing “platforms”, maintain small seral openings with vegetation scraped down to bare soil. The pioneering flora is composed almost entirely of native species, including a significant subset that are rare, uncommon, or otherwise noteworthy.

Southern sedge meadow
Widespread in southern Wisconsin, this open wetland community is most typically dominated by tussock sedge (Carex stricta) and Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis). Common associates are water-horehound (Lycopus uniflorus), panicled aster (Aster simplex), blue flag (Iris virginica), Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), spotted joe-pye-weed (Eupatorium maculatum), broad-leaved cat-tail (Typha latifolia), and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) may be dominant in grazed and/or ditched stands. Ditched stands can succeed quickly to Shrub-Carr.


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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