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What Makes a Freshwater Wetland?

Drawing showing wetland cross-section

1. Water source = hydrology

2. Water-loving plants = hydrophytes

3. Presence of wet or hydric soils

Hydric Soils

Wetland or "hydric" soils exhibit different characteristics than upland soils because they are waterlogged for such long periods. Some hydric soils are organic rich because wetland plant material cannot breakdown in the wet environment. Other hydric soils have gray or mottled colors because of long term wetness. Scientists use soils to help identify the limits of wetlands.

Common Wetland Plants
(Click on thumbnails for larger images)

  • Photo of Blue Flag Iris

    Blue Flag Iris

  • Photo of Cardinal Flower

    Cardinal Flower

  • Photo of Cattails


  • Photo of Jack in the Pulpit

    Jack in the Pulpit

  • Photo of Pitcher Plant

    Pitcher Plant

  • Photo of Skunk Cabbage

    Skunk Cabbage

  • Photo of Trillium


  • Photo of White Water Lily

    White Water Lily

  • Photo of Woolgrass


  • Photo of Boneset