Prairies, Marshes, Sloughs, and Ponds

Habitat - Prairie Promo

These communities are dominated by herbaceous vegetation that grow along a hydroperiod gradient from rarely to almost permanently flooded.  Both the wet and dry prairies have a relatively short mixed grass-sedge flora.  Dryer prairies have low, scrubby saw palmettos and clumps of wire grass, (Aristida spp.).  Common grasses include broomsedge (Andropogon spp.), lopsided Indian grass (Sorghastrum secundum), foxtail grass (Setaria gracilis), and chalky bluestem (Andropogon capilipes).  Common herbaceous plants include white marsh pink (Sabatia brevifolia), milkworts (Polygala spp.), button snakeroot (Eryngium aromaticum), liatris (Liatris spp.), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), and rabbit tobacco (Pterocaulon pycnostachytum).  Wax myrtle and gallberry are common pioneering species into prairie habitats.  In wet prairies, which are more numerous on the refuge than dry prairies, the dominant species are maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), sand cordgrass (Spartina bakeri), beak rush (Rhynchospora spp.), muhly grass (Muhlenbergia filipes), love grass (Eragrostis spp.), and other grasses, sedges and rushes.  Wetter prairies that are underlain by marl or rock frequently grow sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), and spikerush, St. John's wort (Hypericim spp.), yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.), marsh pink (Sabatia stellaris), gerardia (Agalinis spp.), coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.), and terrestrial orchids.  Bladderworts (Uticularia spp.), and floating heart (Nymphoides aquatica), are frequent components of the wet season flora.  Marsh vegetation is extremely varied, but a given site is usually dominated by one or two species.  Among the most common are pickerel weed (Pontederia spp.), arrowhead (Saggitaria spp.), sawgrass, fire flagg (Thalia geniculata), cattail (Typha spp.), and bulrush (Scirpus spp.).  Other grasses, sedges, and rushes are often abundant.  Common species found in ponds include bladderwort, white water lily (Nymphaea. odorata), and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) (Duever et al., 1986). Long (1974) reported a total of 110 species from marshlands, 172 from wet prairie communities, and 69 species from dry prairies.  Many small (1-20 acre) lakes are scattered throughout the refuge. The lakes or ponds are shallow (1-4 feet deep), except for Colding and Pistol ponds which have depths of 20-25 feet. These two ponds were excavated as borrow pits for SR 29 road base material. Some common vegetation includes pickerel weed, alligator flag, floating lemna and wolffiella, and submergent bladderwort and naiad. A few have emergent stands of giant cutgrass.