Mixed Forb – Graminoid Wet Meadow
PA Ecological Group(s): Basin wetland
State Rank: S5
This is an open, commonly occurring plant community dominated by herbaceous vegetation. They are typically saturated or inundated early in the growing season, but may be dry by mid- to late-summer. The substrate is typically mineral soil with or without a layer of muck at the surface. Although flooded or saturated soils may help to keep these systems open, most are also grazed or mowed.
This plant composition of this association is diverse, though some sites may be dominated by one or two species. Representative species include a combination of graminoid and forb species. Species include goldenrods (Solidago spp.), rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), wool-grass (Scirpus cyperinus), bugleweed (Lycopus uniflorus), smartweeds (Persicaria spp.), sedges (Carex stipata var. stipata, C. canescens, C. lurida, C. cristatella, C. tribuloides, C. vesicaria, C. stricta), soft rush (Juncus effusus), Joe-Pye-weed (Eutrochium spp.), boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), Canadian St. John's-wort (Hypericum canadense), bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis var. canadensis), New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), beggar-ticks (Bidens spp.), dwarf St. John's-wort (Hypericum mutilum), bulrush (Scirpus spp.), marsh St. John's-wort (Triadenum virginicum), rattlesnake mannagrass (Glyceria canadensis), and spike-rushes (Eleocharis spp.). Scattered shrubs may be present, representative species include steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa), silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa), red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), and arrow-wood (Viburnum recognitum). Exotic species such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and a variety of non-native grasses, such as reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea), are frequently found in these meadows.
Common, widespread, and abundant in the jurisdiction.
- Wet alluvial bottomlands, beaver ponds, as well as wet portions of old fields and open grasslands
- Soils are poorly drained, acidic clay loams
- Dominated by grasses and forbs, with scattered trees and shrubs
- Rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides)
- Wool-grass (Scirpus cyperinus)
- Bugleweed (Lycopus uniflorus)
- Pale meadowgrass (Torreyochloa pallida)
- Smartweeds (Persicaria spp.)
- Three-way sedge (Dulichium arundinaceum var. arundinaceum)
- Marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris)
- Sedge (Carex stipata)
- Sedge (Carex canescens)
- Sedge (Carex lurida)
- Sedge (Carex cristatella)
- Sedge (Carex tribuloides)
- Sedge (Carex vesicaria)
- Tussock sedge (Carex stricta)
- Soft rush (Juncus effusus)
- Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica)
- Beggar-ticks (Bidens spp.)
- Dwarf St. John's-wort (Hypericum mutilum)
- Joe-pye-weed (Eutrochium spp.)
- Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
- Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
- Royal fern (Osmunda regalis)
- Canadian St. John's-wort (Hypericum canadense)
- Canada bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis var. canadensis)
- New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
- Marsh St. John's-wort (Triadenum virginicum)
- Goldenrods (Solidago spp.)
- Rattlesnake mannagrass (Glyceria canadensis)
- Black bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens)
- Bulrush (Scirpus pendulus)
- Spike-rushes (Eleocharis spp.)
*Vascular plant nomenclature follows Rhoads and Block (2007). Bryophyte nomenclature follows Crum and Anderson (1981).
International Vegetation Classification Associations:
Central Appalachian Cutgrass Marsh (CEGL006461)
NatureServe Ecological Systems:
Origin of Concept
Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Harrisburg, PA. 86 pp.
Pennsylvania Community Code*
*(DCNR 1999, Stone 2006)
Similar Ecological Communities
Mixed Forb - Graminoid Wet Meadow represents a community that has a mixture of forbs and graminoids and can be distinguished from other types by the diverse mixture of species and lack of a clear dominant. Although reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis var. canadensis) may occur in this community type, they are not dominant. If one of these species or a combination of the two dominates the community, the community may be better represented by Bluejoint – Reed Canary-grass Marsh. If tussock sedge (Carex stricta) strongly dominates the community, then the community would better be represented by Tussock Sedge Marsh. If the community is a seasonally flooded basin that collects water during the winter and spring, then the community is better represented by the Rice Cutgrass – Bulrush Vernal Pool or Wool-grass – Mannagrass – Mixed Shrub Vernal Pool. This community may also be similar is species composition with the Floodplain Meadow. It differs from the floodplain type in landscape position, as it is usually located outside of the active floodplain, and the presence of riparian plant species.
This community serves as habitat for small mammals and may serve as a foraging area for raptor species. This community also serves as a buffer for sediment and pollution runoff from adjacent developed lands by slowing the flow of surficial water causing sediment to settle within this wetland.
Alteration to the hydrological regime and development are the major threats to this community and can lead to habitat destruction and/or shifts in community function and dynamics. Clearing and development of adjacent land can lead to an accumulation of agricultural run-off and pollution, sedimentation, and insolation/thermal pollution. Invasive plant species such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and common reed (Phragmites australis) can occur in this community.
A natural buffer around the wetland should be maintained in order to minimize nutrient runoff, pollution, and sedimentation. The potential for soil erosion based on soil texture, condition of the adjacent vegetation (mature forests vs. clearcuts), and the topography of the surrounding area (i.e., degree of slope) should be considered when establishing buffers. The buffer size should be increased if soils are erodible, adjacent vegetation has been logged, and the topography is steep as such factors could contribute to increased sedimentation and nutrient pollution. Direct impacts and habitat alteration should be avoided (e.g., roads, trails, filling of wetlands) and low impact alternatives (e.g., elevated footpaths, boardwalks, bridges) should be utilized in situations where accessing the wetland can not be avoided. Care should also be taken to control and prevent the spread of invasive species within the wetland.
There is a need to characterize variations of this community to refine the description and classification of this type.
These wetlands were probably more common but declined due to wetland draining/filling and clearing of the adjacent lands leading to increased sedimentation. Wetland protection has most likely stabilized the decline of these communities. The relative trend for this community is likely stable or may be declining slightly due to hydrological alterations.
New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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Eichelberger, B. 2011. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. Mixed Forb – Graminoid Wet Meadow Factsheet. Available from: http://naturalheritage.state.pa.us/Community.aspx?=16016 Date Accessed: January 17, 2022