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Wetland Evaluation and Delineation Program

Wetland Communities - Depression Marsh

Depression marsh, south Florida - are often rounded, often inundated for a portion of their hydroperiod and are dominated by herbaceous perennial plant species. They are typically found in landscapes with sandy soils, very little relief, especially in pine flatwoods and hammocks. The groundcover usually forms concentric rings from the landward edge to the frequently flooded center. A common pattern is a ring of hummocked grasses and sedges, a zone of St. Johns wort, maidencane, pickeralweed, buttonbush, coastal plain willow, fire flag or scattered swamp tupelo in the center. Fluctuating water levels may make it difficult for plants to colonize the ecotone between the upland and marsh, this may appear as a band of white sand around concentric bands of vegetation. Look for adventitious roots on woody vegetation, especially the St. Johnís wort and buttonbush. The ecotone between the pine flatwoods and depression marsh is often demarcated by a ring of saw palmetto, sometimes the saw palmetto will form a short "trunk" in the ecotone. The vegetation of depression marshes is related to that of savannas, the Everglades, freshwater lakes and ponds. Often you will see similar species composition in depression marshes, ditches, swales, freshwater lakes and ponds.

Depression Marsh

View of depression marsh in a pine flatwoods, Martin County, Florida. Note the concentric ring of fireflag and pickeral weed in the center with a zone of maidencane and St. Johns wort around this, finally the zone of hummocked wiregrass that grades into the pine flatwoods.

The following is a list of the major plants associated with depression marshes in south Florida.


Botanical Latin Common Name Wetland Status
Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora swamp tupelo OBL
Salix caroliniana coastal plain willow OBL



Botanical Latin Common Name Wetland Status
Aristida affinis long-leaf three-awn grass OBL
Aristida spiciformis three-awn bottlebrush FAC
Aristida stricta wiregrass; pineland three-awn grass FAC
Cephalanthus occidentalis buttonbush OBL
Cladium jamaicense sawgrass OBL
Dichromena latifolia sandswamp whitetop OBL
Eleocharis sp. spikerush OBL
Hypericum fasciculatum marsh St. John's-wort OBL
Myrica cerifera southern bayberry FAC
Panicum hemitomon maidencane OBL
Panicum rigidulum red-top panicum FACW
Panicum virgatum switchgrass FACW
Pontederia cordata pickerelweed OBL
Rhynchospora inundata horned beakrush OBL
Rhynchospora microcarpa southern beakrush OBL
Rhynchospora tracyi Tracy's beakrush OBL
Sagittaria lancifolia bulltongue arrowhead OBL
Stillingia aquatica corkwood OBL
Thalia geniculata thalia; fire flag OBL
Woodwardia virginica chainfern FACW

Last updated: June 30, 2015

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