Marshes have waterlogged soil the entire year and contain mostly emergent vegetations. An emergent plant is herbaceous (non-woody, having soft stems) and can tolerate having constantly wet roots and stems. Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is one of the emergents visible from this point. It is known for its rank smell, which draws pollinators such as flies. Please note, it is not a “cabbage” – the calcium oxalate crystals in its leaves will pierce the tongue like tiny needles! Other emergents found in the marsh include seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia) and monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens).
Overtime the stems of emergent plants trap sediment and organic debris. The resultant higher, drier soil is suitable for woody plants such as the black willow (Salix nigra). These large spreading trees in the distance are so called swamp willows: trees such as these are an early sign of succession from marsh to wetland forest.
View a map of the Nature Walk