Monday, February 18, 2013

Mid-Michigan Habitats - Floodplain Forests

A Floodplain Forest is a type of forest that occurs in the areas of river valleys that flood during periods of high water.  Trees that live in Floodplain Forests must be able to survive having their roots periodically immersed in saturated soils or under water.  They also must be able to survive the enormous power of flood waters and the damage caused objects in the flood.  Species of plants that thrive in floodplains either grow quickly and develop vigorous root systems or have the ability to regrow if they are uprooted.

Many species of plants cannot survive in floodplains because they "drown" if their roots are under water for too long - too much water means that the roots cannot get enough oxygen and the tree dies. Many of the trees that live in floodplains cannot survive in drier climates.

The floodplain forests of Mid-Michigan are home to a diverse collection of trees and shrubs. Mid-Michigan sits right on a boundary between biomes, with Eastern Broadleaf Forest to the south and Laurentian Mixed Forest to the north. We are situated right on the northern edge of ranges for many species and on the southern edge of ranges for other species.  Therefore we have a diversity of plants in different micro-habitats throughout our river valleys.  All of the trees and shrubs below can be found in the Chippewa River floodplain near Mt. Pleasant.

Canopy Trees

American Elm (Ulmus Americana)

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Boxelder (Acer negundo)

Crack Willow (Salix fragilis) - a non-native tree

Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Eastern/American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)

Understory Trees & Shrubs

Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)

Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

American Elder (Sambucus canadensis)

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