Humbug Marsh Plants

Old Growth Humbug Plants Profile Pic

Old Growth Oak-Hickory Forest 


Most of the mainland adjacent to Humbug Marsh was cleared for logging or development in recent history, as was the majority of forested area in southeast Michigan. However, wooded portions of Humbug Island and a small section of the mainland were not accessible to logging equipment and, thus, continued to persist as high quality old-growth forest. Tree species in this oak-hickory relic are very diverse and include Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak), Q. macrocarpa (bur oak), Q. rubra (red oak), Q. alba (white oak), and Q. shumardii (shumard oak), which is considered a Special Concern species in Michigan. Hickory species include Carya ovata (shagbark hickory), C. cordiformis (bitternut hickory), and C. glabra (pignut hickory). The understory is also diverse for this urbanized area and includes Ribes americanum (wild black currant), Claytonia virginica (spring beauty), Erythronium albidum (white trout lily), Floerkea proserpinacoides (false mermaid), and Heuchera americana (alum root), all of which have coefficients of conservativism equal to 6 or greater (Reznicek et al. 2005). These forests are climax communities that provide valuable wildlife habitat and are the last remnants of the environments French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac would have seen when he canoed the Detroit River in the summer of 1701 (Appel 2002). 
Swamp Rose Mallow 
Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rose mallow): This species is becoming rare in Michigan and is known to occur in Humbug Marsh (Reznicek et al. 2005). Because it only occurs in nine counties in the state, it is considered a Special Concern species in Michigan. 
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass): This invasive, non-native grass is a substantial problem in southeast Michigan, where it has taken over large tracts of wetland. Several locations within Humbug Marsh have significant populations of Phragmites. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been treating Phragmites with a selective herbicide for two years. 


Bibliographical references:

Appel, L.M., J.A. Craves, M. Kehoe Smith, B. Weir and J. Zawiskie. 2002. Explore our Natural World: A
Biodiversity Atlas of the Lake Huron to Lake Erie Corridor.

Reznicek, A., M. Penskar, B. Walters and S. Campbell. 2005. Floristic Quality Assessment for the
Humbug Marsh Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. Michigan Natural Features

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