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Scientific Name: Eastern Great Plains Wet Meadow, Prairie and Marsh
Unique Identifier: CES205.687
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate
Image 21971
© Don Faber-Langendoen
Summary: This system is found along creeks and streams from Nebraska and Iowa to Illinois, and from Minnesota to Texas. It is also found in depressions and along lake borders, especially in the northern extension of its range into Minnesota. It is often adjacent to a floodplain system but is devoid of trees and riparian vegetation. It is also distinguished from upland prairie systems by having more hydrology, especially associated with silty, dense clay soils that are often hydric, classified as Vertic Haplaquolls. The landform is usually floodplain or poorly drained, relatively level land. The vegetation is dominated by Spartina pectinata, Tripsacum dactyloides, numerous large sedges, such as Carex frankii and Carex hyalinolepis, and in wetter areas, Eleocharis spp. Other emergent marsh species such as Typha spp. can be associated with this system. Forbs can include Helianthus grosseserratus, Vernonia fasciculata, and Physostegia virginiana. Some parts of this system may be saline and have species such as Distichlis spicata and Bolboschoenus maritimus (= Schoenoplectus maritimus). Fire has been the primary influence in keeping these wet areas free of trees. Other dynamic processes include grazing and flooding (often in late spring). Many areas have been converted to agricultural, but this usually requires some sort of drainage.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL002026 Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani - Typha spp. - (Sparganium spp., Juncus spp.) Marsh
CEGL002027 Spartina pectinata - Calamagrostis stricta - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002032 Typha (angustifolia, domingensis, latifolia) - Schoenoplectus americanus Marsh
CEGL002043 Distichlis spicata - Bolboschoenus maritimus - Salicornia rubra Wet Meadow
CEGL002186 Cornus sericea - Salix spp. - (Rosa palustris) Shrub Swamp
CEGL002187 Cornus sericea - Salix (bebbiana, discolor, petiolaris) / Calamagrostis stricta Shrub Swamp
CEGL002220 Carex atherodes Wet Meadow
CEGL002221 Bolboschoenus fluviatilis - Schoenoplectus spp. Marsh
CEGL002223 Spartina pectinata - Eleocharis spp. - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002224 Spartina pectinata - Carex spp. - Calamagrostis canadensis - Lythrum alatum - (Oxypolis rigidior) Wet Meadow
CEGL002225 Schoenoplectus acutus - (Bolboschoenus fluviatilis) Freshwater Marsh
CEGL002229 Typha spp. - Schoenoplectus acutus - Mixed Herbs Midwest Marsh
CEGL002233 Typha spp. Midwest Marsh
CEGL002254 Carex pellita - Calamagrostis stricta Wet Meadow
CEGL002255 Calamagrostis stricta - Carex sartwellii - Carex praegracilis - Plantago eriopoda Saline Wet Meadow
CEGL002256 Carex lacustris Midwest Wet Meadow
CEGL002257 Carex utriculata - Carex lacustris - (Carex vesicaria, Carex stricta) Wet Meadow
CEGL002258 Carex stricta - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002262 Carex aquatilis - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002282 Potamogeton spp. - Ceratophyllum spp. Midwest Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002386 Nuphar advena - Nymphaea odorata Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002387 Impatiens pallida - Cystopteris bulbifera - Adoxa moschatellina Algific Talus Rock Vegetation
CEGL002430 Polygonum spp. - Mixed Forbs Shoreline Wet Meadow
CEGL004525 Sagittaria cuneata - Sagittaria longiloba Marsh
CEGL004526 Typha latifolia - Thalia dealbata Marsh
CEGL004528 Ceratophyllum demersum - Stuckenia pectinata Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL004529 Potamogeton nodosus Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL004699 Polygonum amphibium - (Polygonum hydropiperoides) Shoreline Wet Meadow
CEGL005069 Spiraea tomentosa - Salix humilis / Andropogon gerardii - Panicum virgatum Wet Shrubland
CEGL005111 Bolboschoenus maritimus - Atriplex patula - Eleocharis parvula Saline Marsh
CEGL005178 Spartina pectinata - Carex spp. - Calamagrostis canadensis Sand Wet Meadow
CEGL005240 Sagittaria latifolia - Leersia oryzoides Marsh
CEGL005448 Calamagrostis canadensis - Carex spp. Laurentian & Northeast Wet Meadow
CEGL005449 Calamagrostis canadensis North-Central Wet Meadow


Land Cover Class: Herbaceous Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Small patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: No
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: Partially Isolated

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Isolated Wetland Partially Isolated

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Calephelis muticum
  (Swamp Metalmark)
Platanthera leucophaea
  (Eastern Prairie White-fringed Orchid)
G2G3 LT: Listed threatened
Schoenoplectus hallii
  (Hall's Bulrush)

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Calamagrostis canadensis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Calamagrostis stricta ssp. inexpansa T5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Carex frankii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
Carex hyalinolepis G4 Graminoid Herb (field)  
Carex pellita G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Spartina pectinata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Tripsacum dactyloides G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    

Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
Calephelis muticum
  (Swamp Metalmark)
Nerodia sipedon
  (Northern Watersnake)
Reithrodontomys megalotis
  (Western Harvest Mouse)
Thamnophis radix
  (Plains Gartersnake)
Thamnophis sirtalis
  (Common Gartersnake)

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: IA, IL, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, OK, SD, TXpotentially occurs
Global Range: This system is found throughout the northeastern Great Plains ranging from eastern Kansas to western Illinois and north into Minnesota.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
205-Eastern Great Plains C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
35 Northern Tallgrass Prairie Confident or certain
36 Central Tallgrass Prairie Confident or certain
45 North Central Tillplain Predicted or probable
46 Prairie-Forest Border Predicted or probable

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
31 Sandhills Predicted or probable
38 Eastern Great Plains Confident or certain
39 Prairie Coteau Lands Confident or certain
40 Northern Great Plains Confident or certain
41 Northern Lake Country Predicted or probable
42 Western Till Plains Confident or certain
43 Till Plains Confident or certain
44 Ozark Highlands Never was there
49 Central Till Plains Confident or certain
50 Central Great Lakes Uplands Confident or certain
51 Great Lakes Plains Predicted or probable
52 Eastern Till Plains Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9213
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1488
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2488

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Element Description Edition Date: 10Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): S. Menard and K. Kindscher

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

  • Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, K. Snow, J. Teague, and R. White. 2003-present. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

  • Kost, M. A., D. A. Albert, J. G. Cohen, B. S. Slaughter, R. K. Schillo, C. R. Weber, and K. A. Chapman. 2007. Natural communities of Michigan: Classification and description. Report No. 2007-21, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing. 314 pp. []

  • Lauver, C. L., K. Kindscher, D. Faber-Langendoen, and R. Schneider. 1999. A classification of the natural vegetation of Kansas. The Southwestern Naturalist 44:421-443.

  • Nelson, P. 2010. The terrestrial natural communities of Missouri. Revised edition. Missouri Natural Areas Committee, Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Conservation, Jefferson City.

  • Rolfsmeier, S. B., and G. Steinauer. 2010. Terrestrial ecological systems and natural communities of Nebraska (Version IV - March 9, 2010). Nebraska Natural Heritage Program, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Lincoln, NE. 228 pp.

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Version 7.1 (2 February 2009)
Data last updated: March 2019