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Acorus calamus Tidal Marsh
Translated Name: European Sweetflag Tidal Marsh
Common Name: Sweetflag Tidal Marsh
Unique Identifier: CEGL006833
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This is an association of tidal freshwater marsh dominated by Acorus calamus that occurs in fresh to oligohaline reaches of tidal rivers along the Atlantic Coast from Massachusetts to Virginia. This association is best developed in higher, irregularly flooded elevations within freshwater tidal marshes but can occur in areas with a wide tidal range. Substrate is generally fine-particled, but varies from silts and silty mucks to peats and sands. The setting within the tidal marsh tends to be poorly drained; tidal flooding is ponded and of longer duration than adjacent areas. Acorus calamus is dominant, generally comprising at least 50% cover, over extensive patches within the interior of high marshes. Peltandra virginica is a frequent associate. Other associated species are variable and can include Schoenoplectus fluviatilis, Sagittaria latifolia, Polygonum punctatum, and Impatiens capensis. Species that can occasionally occur include Pontederia cordata, Zizania aquatica, Leersia oryzoides, Typha latifolia, Polygonum arifolium, Bidens coronata, Hibiscus moscheutos, and other Schoenoplectus spp. Murdannia keisak has been noted in the southern portion of the range. Acorus calamus is conspicuously dominant in spring and early summer. Later in the season, culms tend to lodge and form mats and be overtopped by other species.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: This vegetation is considered a modified type by the Delaware Natural Heritage Program. Although the native status of Acorus calamus has been debated, North American specimens are apparently sterile triploids introduced from Europe (Coulling 2002).

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Ne - Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Fresh-Oligohaline Tidal Marsh
Group Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Fresh-Oligohaline Tidal Marsh
Alliance Mixed Forb Oligohaline Tidal Marsh

This is the revised vegetation hierarchy. For more information see Classification Sources and usnvc.org.



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Related Subnational Community Units
These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.
In the U.S., contact the state Heritage Program for the most complete and up-to-date information at: http://www.natureserve.org/natureserve-network.
Information from programs in other jurisdictions will be posted when they are made available.
Subnation Concept Name Relationship to Standard Confidence Reference
Connecticut Sweetflag (Acorus calamus) tidally-flooded grasslands Equivalent Certain Metzler and Barrett 2006
Delaware Sweet Flag Marsh Equivalent Certain Coxe 2009
Maryland Acorus calamus Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011
Massachusetts Freshwater Tidal Marsh Broader   Swain and Kearsley 2001


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acorus calamus Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.
Related Concept Name: Acorus calamus tidally-flooded grasslands
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Metzler, K. J., and J. P. Barrett. 2001. Vegetation classification for Connecticut. Draft 5/21/2001. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources Center, Natural Diversity Database, Hartford.
Related Concept Name: Tidal Freshwater Marsh
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.516 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Fresh and Oligohaline Tidal Marsh


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: GNR (10May2002)
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CT, DCpotentially occurs, DE, MA, MD, NJ, VA
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: Currently described from Massachusetts to Virginia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lower New England Section
Section Code: 221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 232 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain Section
Section Code: 232A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This is a tall tidally flooded grassland dominated by Acorus calamus, which can form dense colonies over extensive patches within the interior of high marshes. Associated species are variable and can include Schoenoplectus fluviatilis, Peltandra virginica, Sagittaria latifolia, Polygonum punctatum, and Impatiens capensis. Species that can occasionally occur include Pontederia cordata, Zizania aquatica, Leersia oryzoides, Typha latifolia, Polygonum arifolium, Bidens coronata, Hibiscus moscheutos, and other Schoenoplectus spp. Murdannia keisak has been noted in the southern portion of the range Acorus calamus is conspicuously dominant in spring and early summer. Later in the season, culms tend to lodge and form mats and be overtopped by other species.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acorus calamus GNR Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Murdannia keisak GNR Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: The association is best developed at higher, irregularly flooded elevations within fresh and oligohaline tidal marshes but can occur in areas with a wide tidal range. Substrate is generally fine-particled, but varies from silts and silty mucks to peats and sands. The setting within the tidal marsh tends to be poorly drained; tidal flooding is ponded and of longer duration than other areas. Acorus calamus can occur in low mid-tidal areas, but extensive colonies do not tend to develop in these situations.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Freshwater tidal marshes are naturally dynamic systems that are best developed where there is a major input of freshwater, a daily tidal range of at least 0.5 m, and a geomorphology that tends to constrict and magnify tidal influence in the upper reaches of the estuary (Odum et al. 1984). They are subject to diurnal flooding by tides and seasonal and episodic flooding from river discharge. Plant composition of freshwater tidal marshes generally occurs as a mosaic of patches dominated by a few or a single species. Species composition is determined by species life history characteristics, especially lifeform, phenology and mode of regeneration in response to microhabitat conditions and the frequency and duration of flooding. Plant composition has seasonal variation.

Acorus calamus forms large, clonal patches (Barrett 1989). Its rhizomes can locally raise the surface of the marsh, effectively ponding tidal waters and trapping debris and sediments in backmarsh areas (Caldwell 1990).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): S.L. Neid
Element Description Edition Date: 10May2002
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid and L.A. Sneddon

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Barrett, N. E. 1989. Vegetation of the tidal wetlands of the lower Connecticut River: Ecological relationships of plant community-types with respect to flooding and habitat. M.S. thesis, University of Connecticut, Storrs. 209 pp.

  • Barrett, N. E. 1994. Vegetation patch dynamics in freshwater tidal wetlands. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Connecticut. 277 pp.

  • Caldwell, F. A. 1990. A floristic and vegetation analysis of a freshwater-tidal marsh on the Merrimack River, West Newbury, Massachusetts. Master's thesis, University of New Hampshire. 96 pp.

  • Coulling, P. P. 2002. A preliminary classification of tidal marsh, shrub swamp, and hardwood swamp vegetation and assorted non-tidal, chiefly non-maritime, herbaceous wetland communities of the Virginia Coastal Plain. October 2002. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-18. 30 pp.

  • Coxe, R. 2009. Guide to Delaware vegetation communities. Spring 2009 edition. State of Delaware, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna.

  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2011a. Natural communities of Virginia: Ecological groups and community types. Natural Heritage Technical Report 11-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 34 pp.

  • Harrison, J. W. 2001. Herbaceous tidal wetland communities of Maryland's eastern shore: Identification, assessment and monitoring. Report submitted to the U.S. EPA (Clean Water Act 1998 State Wetlands Protection Development Grant Program). Biodiversity Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Division. 30 June 2001. [U.S. EPA Reference Wetland Natural communities of Maryland's Herbaceous Tidal Wetlands Grant #CD993724].

  • Harrison, J. W. 2011. The natural communities of Maryland: 2011 working list of ecological community groups and community types. Unpublished report. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Natural Heritage Program, Annapolis. 33 pp.

  • Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

  • McCormick, J., and T. Ashbaugh. 1972. Vegetation of a section of Oldmans Creek Tidal Marsh and related areas in Salem and Gloucester counties, New Jersey. Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Science 17:31-37.

  • Metzler, K. J., and J. P. Barrett. 2001. Vegetation classification for Connecticut. Draft 5/21/2001. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources Center, Natural Diversity Database, Hartford.

  • Metzler, K., and J. Barrett. 2006. The vegetation of Connecticut: A preliminary classification. State Geological and Natural History Survey, Report of Investigations No. 12. Connecticut Natural Diversity Database, Hartford.

  • Odum, W. E., T. J. Smith, III, J. K. Hoover, and C. C. McIvor. 1984. The ecology of tidal freshwater marshes of the United States east coast: A community profile. FWS/OBS-83/17. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Services, Washington, DC. 176 pp.

  • Swain, P. C., and J. B. Kearsley. 2001. Classification of natural communities of Massachusetts. September 2001 draft. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA.


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