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Three photos of swamps

Swamps are the most common wetland type in Rhode Island. They are dominated by trees or shrubs and can be located along rivers or streams, along pond shorelines, in isolated settings, or on hillside slopes. Swamps are not always obviously wet and are therefore not always easy to identify. Some swamps have surface water during the spring months and are dry by summer. Many swamps never flood, but have water near or just below the ground surface. The soil can be saturated and mucky if the swamp is wet enough, but it will not necessarily be so in a swamp that never has surface water.

The most common tree in Rhode Island's swamps is red maple (Acer rubrum). We also have swamps dominated by Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) trees. Common swamp shrubs include blueberry (Vaccinium corybosum), sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), and spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Common herbaceous plants, that grow in the understory of swamps include cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), and sphagnum (Sphagnum sp.) moss.

Images Anne Jett, NEIWPCC