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by Jon M. Stucky, Alexander Krings, Alexander L. Belskis, Jennifer M. Cianchetta, E. Scott Niven, and Alice B. Russell*


This site seeks to facilitate the identification of common wetland plants of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of the Carolinas.  The presented keys and descriptions were primarily developed by Jon Stucky and are based on years of wetland field work.  The keys facilitate year-round identification by primarily emphasizing vegetative characters.  To further aid identification, species descriptions and a partially illustrated glossary are also provided.  The site continues to be a work in progress as we intend to add photographs of each species as they become available.


The provided species descriptions include more characters than the keys.  These descriptions emphasize vegetative features because most specimens encountered in the field will be vegetative rather than reproductive.  The character states in bold are those which, in combination, distinguish the species from all/most others that are described. Character states in parentheses are uncommon. One needs to use a magnifying handlens to clearly observe many of the characters in the descriptions. 


The descriptions are based mainly on observations of living and herbarium specimens and are supplemented with information from:

*         Godfrey, R.K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Univ. Ga. Press. Athens.

*         Godfrey, R.K. and J.W. Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of southeastern United States. Dicotyledons. Univ. Ga. Press. Athens.

*         Grimm, W.C. 1993. The illustrated book of wildflowers and shrubs. Stackpole Books. Harrisburg, PA.

*         Preston, R.J. and V.G. Wright. 1988. Identification of southeastern trees in winter. NC Agr. Ext. Serv. Publ. AG-42.

*         Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. NC Press. Chapel Hill.


Scientific names are from

*         Kartesz, J.T.  1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Vol. 2-Thesaurus. Timber Press, Portland.


Synonyms that are still frequently used are noted in the descriptions as = Synonym.


Wetland indicators for the southeastern United States and common names are from

*         Reed, P.B. 1988. National list of plant species that occur in wetlands: Southeast (Region 2). USDI/USFWS Biol. Rept. 88 (26.2).


Indicators for taxa not included in Reed (1988) are from the 1996 internet version of the National List. Common names for these taxa are from Godfrey (1988) and Godfrey and Wooten (1981).  These taxa are indicated by asterisks preceding their scientific names.

Geographic distributions and months of flowering are for NC unless otherwise indicated and are taken from Radford et al. (1968).


Months of seed shedding are indicated for gymnosperms. 


Indications of commonness (common, infrequent, etc.) and comments about species’ distinctness or possible confusion with other species are based on field experience.  In this regard, “Distinct” means that the described species is easily distinguished from other common woody wetland species.


Wildlife food value is summarized from

*         Martin, A.C., H.S. Zim, and A.L. Nelson. 1951. American wildlife and plants. McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc. New York.


Numerical ratios give a general quantitative index of the aggregate food value of the species or genus to all wildlife reported to use it; the larger the numerator, the more important the aggregate value. The denominator is the number of animal species reported to use the species/genus as food. Ratios in bold are for the individual species; ratios not in bold are for the genus to which the species  belongs.  Ratios in parentheses reflect usage throughout the species/genus’ geographic range; ratios not in parentheses indicate usage in the southeastern US.  Food value information for some species or genera was not found in the literature.


*Suggested  citation:

Stucky, J.M., A. Krings, A.L. Belskis, J.M. Cianchetta, E.S. Niven, and A.B. Russell.  2001.  Common,Woody, Piedmont and Coastal Plain, Wetland Plants of the Carolinas. [].  NC State University, Raleigh, NC.


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