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Shrub swamp

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Title: Shrub swamp  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Wetlands, Swamps, Flooded grasslands and savannas, Várzea forest, Wet meadow
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Shrub swamp

The Blackwater River passes through shrub swamp in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, USA.

Shrub swamps — also called scrub swamps or buttonbush swamps — are a type of freshwater wetland ecosystem occurring in areas too wet to become swamps (“true” or freshwater swamp forest), but too dry or too shallow to become marshes. They are often considered transitional (“mid-successional”) between wet meadows or fens and conifer or hardwood swamps.

By some classifications, shrub swamps must have at least 50% shrub cover and less than 20% tree cover. Other definitions specify large shrubs with small trees less than 35 feet in height. Creation of shrub swamps often follows a catastrophic event in a forested swamp (flood, cutting, fire, or windstorm). Another route of development is via drained meadows and fens which progress to shrub swamps as a transitional state to forested swamps.


As a wet meadow matures it begins to fill in with vegetation and as this decomposes the soil thickens creating high spots (muck and shallow peat soils. Common plants found in the shrub swamps of North America include alders, willows, elderberry and highbush blueberry.


  • Palustrine Scrub Shrub
  • Circumneutral Shrub Swamp

Notable shrub swamps


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