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Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum Wet Shrubland
Translated Name: Undergreen Willow / Mountain Sedge Wet Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CEGL001189
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is restricted to high elevations along the crest of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington (mainly on the east side), the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, and headwaters of tributary streams to the Middle Fork Salmon River in west-central Idaho. It possibly also occurs in California and British Columbia. Elevations range from about 1524 to 2377 m (5000-7800 feet) in the upper reaches of small streams or near lakeshores. Sites supporting this association vary from narrow to broad valleys with low to moderate gradients. Soils are poorly to very poorly drained (saturated for most of the growing season) and cold, with the water table at or near the surface all year. This association often forms small patches of shrub-carr in sloped, flow-through peatlands affiliated with seeps and springs emanating from lateral moraines or mountain slopes. Such sites are often at the margins of small intermediate to rich fens characterized by hummocks, undulations, and numerous rivulets. Soils at these sites are organic loam or peat (over 35 cm thick) with poorly decomposed large woody debris incorporated. Occasionally, stands form on floodplains or streambanks with fine-textured mineral loamy soils. Salix commutata is the dominant shrub, forming an open stand of scattered individuals to a dense overstory (15-95% cover) only 0.20 m to 1.1 m tall on average. Salix planifolia ssp. planifolia and Lonicera caerulea are occasionally abundant shrubs, but their constancy is not high. Carex scopulorum is typically the most abundant and highly constant understory species, often with high cover. Calamagrostis canadensis has high constancy in this association, with cover averaging about 10%. Other mesic graminoids are often present, and occasionally locally abundant, such as Carex cusickii, Carex nigricans, Carex spectabilis (in Washington stands), Carex utriculata, and Eleocharis quinqueflora. Numerous forbs are also usually present and occasionally locally abundant. The most characteristic include Caltha leptosepala ssp. howellii, Dodecatheon jeffreyi, Equisetum arvense, Pedicularis groenlandica, Polemonium occidentale, Potentilla flabellifolia, Saxifraga spp., Packera streptanthifolia, and Viola spp. Moss cover can be very high, with mats sometimes covering nearly all of the soil surface. Sphagnum spp. are occasional.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: Hitchcock and Cronquist (1973) did not include Salix eastwoodiae in their flora of the Pacific Northwest. Specimens of Salix eastwoodiae key to Salix commutata in that flora. Although Salix commutata is a distinct species, readily identified in the field, some specimens of Salix eastwoodiae approach Salix commutata in the nature of pubescence; they may represent hybrids with intergrading characteristics (Brunsfeld and Johnson 1985). Moreover, some Salix eastwoodiae / Carex scopulorum stands develop on very similar sloped wetlands with organic soils as Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum stands (although most Salix eastwoodiae stands occur on mineral soils in central Idaho, while Salix commutata mostly occurs on organic soils) (Mutz and Queiroz 1983). It is possible that some stands of Salix eastwoodiae may be confused with Salix commutata, thus the actual number of Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum stands may be overestimated (possible in Tuhy and Jensen 1982). The potential confusion caused by willow identification may be the reason why Crowe et al. (2004) included Salix eastwoodiae in the name of Salix commutata - Salix eastwoodiae / Carex scopulorum even though only one of their plots had Salix eastwoodiae. Most known Idaho stands with Carex scopulorum understories are dominated by either Salix commutata or Salix eastwoodiae; these willows rarely form mixed stands (Mutz and Queiroz 1983). Christy's (2004) Salix commutata association from west of the Cascade crest in northwestern Oregon includes one stand with moderately high cover (25%) of Carex scopulorum but differs in species composition and in having higher cover of Carex nigricans.

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.Nb - Western North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Western North American Montane Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Group Western Montane-Subalpine Riparian & Seep Shrubland
Alliance Cascadian Undergreen Willow Wet Shrubland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL001194 Salix eastwoodiae Wet Shrubland



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
Idaho Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum Shrubland Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Oregon Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Salix commutata - Salix eastwoodiae / Carex scopulorum Association
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crowe, E. A., B. L. Kovalchik, and M. J. Kerr. 2004. Riparian and wetland vegetation of central and eastern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Institute for Natural Resources, Oregon State University, Portland. 473 pp. [http://oregonstate.edu/ornhic/ publications.html]
Related Concept Name: Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum var. bracteosa - Carex spectabilis Association
Relationship: I - Intersecting
Reference: Kovalchik, B. L. 2001. Classification and management of aquatic, riparian and wetland sites on the national forests of eastern Washington. Part 1: The series descriptions. 429 pp. plus appendix. [http://www.reo.gov/col/wetland_classification/wetland_classification.pdf]
Related Concept Name: Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.
Related Concept Name: Salix commutata / Carex scopulorum Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Tuhy, J. S., and S. Jensen. 1982. Riparian classification for the Upper Salmon and Middle Fork Salmon River drainages, Idaho. Unpublished report prepared for the USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region by White Horse Associates, Smithfield, UT. 183 pp.
Related Concept Name: Salix commutata
Relationship: I - Intersecting
Reference: McCain, C., and J. A. Christy. 2005. Field guide to riparian plant communities in northwestern Oregon. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-01-05. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland. 357 pp.
Related Concept Name: Salix commutata Association
Relationship: I - Intersecting
Reference: Christy, J. A. 2004. Native freshwater wetland plant associations of northwestern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University, Portland, OR.
Related Concept Name: Salix eastwoodiae / Carex scopulorum Community Type
Relationship: I - Intersecting
Reference: Mutz, K. M., and J. Queiroz. 1983. Riparian community classification for the Centennial Mountains and South Fork Salmon River, Idaho. Unpublished report prepared for USDA Forest Service Intermountain Region under contract 53-84M8-2-0048 by Meiiji Resource Consultants, Layton, UT. 168 pp.
Related Concept Name: Eastwood willow - undergreen willow / Holm's sedge association
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Kovalchik, B. L. 1987. Riparian zone associations - Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema national forests. Technical Paper 279-87. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 171 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES204.866 North Pacific Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
CES306.832 Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (01Feb1996)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This association is known from 22 sampled stands throughout its range from the crest of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington, across the Blue Mountains, to west-central Idaho. An estimated total of 75-80 stands may occur throughout its range. This association is restricted to cold saturated sites at high elevations. It very frequently occurs on sloped, flow-through peatlands or wetlands affiliated with seeps and springs (although it is not restricted to these habitats). Such sites are often at the margins of small intermediate to rich fens and have organic loam or peat soils. This association is stable and self-perpetuating due to saturated soil conditions that inhibit forest encroachment and promote development of peat. However, if the hydrologic regime changes due to disturbance, soil mineralization will occur and succession toward other associations expected. Due to relatively high environmental specificity and vulnerability to disturbance, combined with low numbers of known sites, a G3 rank is warranted. If occurrences are better documented in California or elsewhere, then re-evaluation of the G3 rank might be required.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CA, ID, NM, OR, WA
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: This association is restricted to high elevations along the crest of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington, the Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon, and headwaters of tributary streams to the Middle Fork Salmon River in west-central Idaho. It possibly also occurs in California and at Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon. Both Salix commutata and Carex scopulorum are widespread in western Montana, but stands dominated by Salix commutata are not documented from there.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Marine Regime Mountains
Province Name: Cascade Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M242 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Western Cascades Section
Section Code: M242B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Eastern Cascades Section
Section Code: M242C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Steppe Regime Mountains
Province Name: Middle Rocky Mountain Steppe - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M332 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Idaho Batholith Section
Section Code: M332A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Challis Volcanics Section
Section Code: M332F Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Salix commutata is the dominant shrub, forming an open stand of scattered individuals to a dense overstory (15-95% cover) only 0.20 m to 1.1 m tall on average. Salix planifolia ssp. planifolia (= Salix planifolia var. monica) and Lonicera caerulea are occasionally abundant shrubs, but their constancy is not high. Carex scopulorum is typically the most abundant and highly constant understory species, often with high cover. Calamagrostis canadensis has high constancy in this association, with cover averaging about 10%. Other mesic graminoids are often present, and occasionally locally abundant, such as Carex cusickii, Carex nigricans, Carex spectabilis (in Washington stands), Carex utriculata, and Eleocharis quinqueflora. Numerous forbs are also usually present and occasionally locally abundant. The most characteristic include Caltha leptosepala ssp. howellii (= Caltha biflora), Dodecatheon jeffreyi, Equisetum arvense, Pedicularis groenlandica, Polemonium occidentale, Potentilla flabellifolia, Saxifraga spp., Packera streptanthifolia (= Senecio cymbalarioides), and Viola spp. Moss cover can be very high, with mats sometimes covering nearly all of the soil surface. Sphagnum spp. are occasional.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Salix commutata G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Carex scopulorum G3 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: Elevations range from about 1524 to 2377 m (5000-7800 feet) in the upper reaches of small streams or near lakeshores. Sites supporting this association vary from narrow to broad valleys with low to moderate gradients. Soils are poorly to very poorly drained (saturated for most of the growing season) and cold, with the water table at or near the surface all year. This association often forms small patches of shrub-carr in sloped, flow-through peatlands affiliated with seeps and springs emanating from lateral moraines or mountain slopes. Such sites are often at the margins of small intermediate to rich fens characterized by hummocks, undulations, and numerous rivulets. Soils at these sites are organic loam or peat (over 35 cm thick) with poorly decomposed large woody debris incorporated. Occasionally, stands form on floodplains or streambanks with fine-textured mineral loamy soils.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Western Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 28Sep2004
Element Description Author(s): C. Murphy and G. Kittel
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Sep2004
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): C. Murphy, mod. G. Kittel

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


References
  • Bourgeron, P. S., and L. D. Engelking, editors. 1994. A preliminary vegetation classification of the western United States. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Western Heritage Task Force, Boulder, CO. 175 pp. plus appendix.

  • Brunsfeld, S. J., and F. D. Johnson. 1985. Field guide to the willows of east-central Idaho. Bulletin No. 39. Forest, Wildlife & Range Experimental Station, University of Idaho, Moscow. 95 pp.

  • Christy, J. A. 2004. Native freshwater wetland plant associations of northwestern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University, Portland, OR.

  • Crowe, E. A., B. L. Kovalchik, and M. J. Kerr. 2004. Riparian and wetland vegetation of central and eastern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Institute for Natural Resources, Oregon State University, Portland. 473 pp. [http://oregonstate.edu/ornhic/ publications.html]

  • Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.

  • Hitchcock, L. C. and A. Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, Seattle. 730 pp.

  • IDCDC [Idaho Conservation Data Center]. 2005. Wetland and riparian plant associations in Idaho. Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise. [http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/tech/CDC/ecology/wetland_riparian_assoc.cfm] (accessed 14 June 2005).

  • Jankovsky-Jones, M. 1999. Conservation strategy for wetlands in east-central Idaho. Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID. 26 pp. plus appendices.

  • Kagan, J. S., J. A. Christy, M. P. Murray, and J. A. Titus. 2004. Classification of native vegetation of Oregon. January 2004. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Portland. 52 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 1987. Riparian zone associations - Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema national forests. Technical Paper 279-87. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 171 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 2001. Classification and management of aquatic, riparian and wetland sites on the national forests of eastern Washington. Part 1: The series descriptions. 429 pp. plus appendix. [http://www.reo.gov/col/wetland_classification/wetland_classification.pdf]

  • McCain, C., and J. A. Christy. 2005. Field guide to riparian plant communities in northwestern Oregon. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-01-05. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland. 357 pp.

  • Mutz, K. M., and J. Queiroz. 1983. Riparian community classification for the Centennial Mountains and South Fork Salmon River, Idaho. Unpublished report prepared for USDA Forest Service Intermountain Region under contract 53-84M8-2-0048 by Meiiji Resource Consultants, Layton, UT. 168 pp.

  • Seyer, S. C. 1981. Survey of vegetation of 18 lakes in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon. USDA Forest Service, Forest Sciences Laboratory, Corvallis, OR. 47 pp.

  • Seyer, S. C. 1983. Ecological analysis, Multorpor Fen Preserve, Oregon. The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Field Office, Portland. 28 pp.

  • Tuhy, J. S., and S. Jensen. 1982. Riparian classification for the Upper Salmon and Middle Fork Salmon River drainages, Idaho. Unpublished report prepared for the USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region by White Horse Associates, Smithfield, UT. 183 pp.

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2018. Unpublished data files. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

  • Western Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boulder, CO.


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