Swamps, bogs, marshes and fens

Checking out the various wetland trails in the area got me confused. What is the difference between swamps, bogs, marshes and fens? I went online with the question and found the answer on the International Carniverous Plant Society website http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq4120.html . All are wetlands but here is what they say about the various types:

Bog, peat: Characterized by vegetation which is not decaying rapidly, so the undecayed material accumulates as peat. Sphagnum moss is a common inhabitant of bogs. Contrary to popular belief, bogs are not necessarily smelly places—none of the carnivorous plant bogs I have visited are dens of putrefaction. Certainly, an occasionally mucky spot will release a choice cloud of gas when trod upon, but on the whole bogs are very fresh and clean.

Fens: Similar to bogs, but where the nutrient levels are higher because they are fed and drained with streamwater. Sphagnum may be present, but is absent in rich fens.

Marsh: These are wetlands are populated with emergents—plants like cattails or a saw grass, which grow in the mud underwater but which stick out above the water level. Many marshes are brackish or saltwater wetlands (carnivorous plants only grow in freshwater).

Swamp: Flooded forests. In the USA, typical trees in swamps are cypress and tupelo. Floodplain forests (only seasonally flooded) are not swamps. Nor are forests that have been inundated by beaver action—the trees in this case are probably doomed because they are not adapted to such high water tables.

They have a longer list but my confusion centered on these 4 types.


About Jill-O

a girl who likes lakes, trees and critters; making an attempt at living the artistic life.
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