Invalid Unit Specified
Group Detail Report: G111
Rhynchospora spp. - Eleocharis spp. - Xyris spp. Pondshore & Wet Prairie Group

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
These eastern coastal plain depression wetlands occur within poorly drained flats, or in limesinks in areas influenced by karst. The vegetation is dominated by graminoid herbs such as Rhynchospora spp., Eleocharis spp., and Xyris spp. with other graminoid herbs such as species of Andropogon, Aristida, Carex, Eriocaulon, and Panicum.
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Translated Name:Beaksedge species - Spikerush species - Yellow-eyed-grass species Pondshore & Wet Prairie Group
Colloquial Name:Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Pondshore & Wet Prairie
This group occurs in depressions or poorly drained wet flats. The vegetation in depressions usually ranges from open water or floating-leaved aquatics in the center of the deepest basins, to emergent marsh zones in semipermanent water, to drawdown zones with diverse small graminoid and forb vegetation, to dense shrub or woodland edges. Wet prairie vegetation is found on extensive wet flats and consists of primarily herbaceous wetland vegetation with relatively thick cover of grasses and sedge species. Examples occupy low, flat plains on poorly drained soils, often saturated for 50-100 days per year. Occasional to frequent fires, including growing-season burns, are essential for maintenance of this vegetation. Some examples have a sparse tree component of Pinus elliottii or Pinus palustris and scattered shrubs, such as Morella cerifera from Virginia south and Pinus rigida and Morella pensylvanica to the north. Common taxa include Rhynchospora spp., Eleocharis spp., and Xyris spp. These often occur with other graminoids such as species of Andropogon, Aristida, Carex, Eriocaulon, and Panicum. This group is found from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to the Delmarva Peninsula to the Outer Coastal Plain of Virginia, to Florida.
These are herbaceous wetlands, often mixed with low shrubs. They occur in depressions or on wet flats on the coastal plain of the southeastern United States, including some areas as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Common taxa include species of Rhynchospora, Eleocharis, Aristida, and Xyris.
This group occurs in depressions and on poorly drained wet flats. Floristically, it may overlap with Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Seep Group (G187), which occurs on seepage wetlands, and generally has some slope. These two groups are separated based on hydrogeomorphic factors, and a better understanding of the floristic similarities and differences is needed. Dune swales are covered in Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Interdunal Marsh & Prairie Group (G777) so they are omitted from this group (G111). Plus some dune swales are subject to salt spray, saltwater overwash, and heavy rainfall from storms, which may affect these dune swales and limit vegetation to species that are somewhat salt-tolerant. For coastal uplands, North Atlantic Coastal Dune & Grassland Group (G493) covers New England, New York, and Great Lakes dune swales; South Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Dune & Grassland Group (G494) captures the dune and coastal grasslands and shrublands of the mid or south Atlantic Coast. Dune associations CEGL003790 and CEGL004117 have been moved to Fimbristylis castanea - Schoenoplectus pungens Coastal Marsh Alliance (A1372) in G777. CEGL004137 and CEGL004138 (Typha associations) have been moved to Typha domingensis Coastal Marsh Alliance (A3399) also in G777. CEGL004639 is Crataegus-dominated and has been moved to Crataegus aestivalis - Crataegus opaca - Crataegus rufula Swamp Forest Alliance (A0320) in Coastal Plain Hardwood Basin Swamp Group (G038). CEGL007733, also a Crataegus forests has been dropped. CEGL006177 is a tidal association; it has been moved to Peltandra virginica - Pontederia cordata - Sagittaria spp. Oligohaline Tidal Marsh Alliance (A4017) in Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Fresh-Oligohaline Tidal Marsh Group (G110). CEGL006350 is maritime and should be reviewed. CEGL007790 has been moved to Spartina spartinae - Schizachyrium scoparium - Liatris bracteata Saline Coastal Prairie Alliance (A4061) in South Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Dune & Grassland Group (G494). If dune swales are included (now placed in G777), then Federal lands (of G777) should be updated to include Assateague, Cape Cod, Chincoteague, Fire Island, Plum Island, and maybe others.
Synonomy: >< Clastic Upland Lake (FNAI 1990)
>< Coastal Interdunal Swale (FNAI 1990)
>< Depression Marsh (FNAI 1990)
>< Flatwoods/Prairie/Marsh Lake (FNAI 1990)
>< Limesink (Wharton 1978)
> Open Water Lake (Bennett and Nelson 1991)
? Sandhill Upland Lake (FNAI 1990)
>< Sinkhole Lake (FNAI 1990)
>< Wet Prairie (FNAI 1990)
>< grass-sedge savannah (Clewell 1981)

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Abrahamson et al. 1984
  • Bennett and Nelson 1991
  • Bridges 1988
  • Bridges and Orzell 1989a
  • Clewell 1981
  • Collins et al. 2001
  • EPA 2004
  • Faber-Langendoen et al. 2017a
  • FNAI 1990
  • Kindell et al. 1997
  • Peet and Allard 1993
  • Sneddon et al. 1999
  • Wharton 1978
  • Wieland pers. comm.
States/Provinces:AL, DE, FL, GA, LA?, MA, MD, ME, MS, NC, NJ, NY, SC, TX?, VA
Nations:CA, US
Range:This group is found from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to the Delmarva Peninsula to the Outer Coastal Plain of Virginia, to Florida. Review is needed to determine if the type extends to southeastern Texas and Louisiana.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
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These wetlands are generally dominated by herbaceous graminoid vegetation. There often are some woody plants, such as low shrubs and/or scattered tall shrubs or trees present. The tall shrubs have more cover on sites that have not been recently burned.
Common taxa include Rhynchospora spp., Eleocharis spp., and Xyris spp. Herbaceous plants include Aristida beyrichiana, Aristida palustris, Bartonia verna, Carex striata, Centella erecta, Ctenium aromaticum, Cyperus haspan, Cyperus virens, Dichanthelium erectifolium, Dichanthelium wrightianum, Eleocharis elongata, Eleocharis equisetoides, Eleocharis microcarpa, Eleocharis quadrangulata, Fuirena scirpoidea, Fuirena squarrosa, Juncus abortivus, Juncus effusus, Juncus repens, Lachnanthes caroliana, Lachnocaulon minus, Leersia hexandra, Ludwigia glandulosa, Ludwigia linearis, Ludwigia spp., Panicum hemitomon, Panicum rigidulum, Panicum verrucosum, Panicum virgatum, Proserpinaca spp., Rhexia alifanus, Rhexia cubensis, Rhexia spp., Rhynchospora chapmanii, Rhynchospora corniculata, Rhynchospora filifolia, Rhynchospora harperi, Rhynchospora inundata, Rhynchospora tracyi, Sabatia angularis, Saccharum spp., Sagittaria longiloba, Sagittaria papillosa, Steinchisma hians, Symphyotrichum subulatum, and Xyris jupicai. Some examples have a sparse tree component of Pinus elliottii, Pinus palustris, or Pinus rigida and scattered shrubs, such as Clethra alnifolia, Morella cerifera, Morella pensylvanica, or Vaccinium corymbosum. Other woody plants include Acer rubrum, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Hypericum chapmanii, Hypericum fasciculatum, Hypericum reductum, Ilex myrtifolia, Magnolia virginiana, Nyssa biflora, Nyssa sylvatica, and Taxodium ascendens. Other characteristic and often dominant species for the northern part of the range (Massachusetts to New York or New Jersey) include Cyperus dentatus, Dichanthelium meridionale, Eleocharis acicularis, Eleocharis robbinsii, Eriocaulon aquaticum (= Eriocaulon septangulare), Euthamia caroliniana (= Euthamia tenuifolia), Gratiola aurea, Juncus militaris, Juncus pelocarpus, Lobelia dortmanna, and Xyris difformis.
Climate: South of Virginia, the climate is humid, warm temperate. From eastern Virginia to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the climate is humid, cool temperate. Soil/substrate/hydrology: This vegetation occupies low, flat plains on poorly drained Ultisols. Other soil orders may include Spodosols, Inceptisols, and Entisols (Collins et al. 2001); some of these soils have an argillic horizon which impedes drainage and contributes to high water tables. On Eglin Air Force Base, this group is found on the Rutledge series (Kindell et al. 1997). The low areas where this vegetation occurs on barrier islands and similar immediate coastal areas are dune swales or other basins. The ponds have standing water well into the growing season, and most are permanently saturated. The vegetation also occurs in small basins, primarily in sandy terrain of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, from southeastern Virginia to Florida, including the Lake Wales Ridge area of central Florida. Most southeast basins are formed by subsidence of surface sediments caused by solution in underlying limestone, but origins may be different from Delaware northward.
Water table fluctuations are probably the most important factor affecting examples of this vegetation (Bridges and Orzell 1989a). In depressions, hydroperiod can vary substantially from year to year, and vegetation can similarly vary significantly in aspect and dominants. Fire is also an important natural dynamic process, especially when sites are saturated, without standing water at the surface. On barrier islands, ponds usually occur in stable portions of the islands, where they may last for decades.
34:C, 34a:C, 35:C, 35f:C, 63:C, 63b:C, 63c:C, 63e:C, 63f:C, 63h:C, 65:C, 65f:C, 65g:C, 65h:C, 65l:C, 65m:C, 65o:C, 75:C, 75a:C, 75b:C, 75c:C, 75d:C, 75e:C, 75f:C, 75g:C, 75h:C, 75j:C
C.W. Nordman, D. Faber-Langendoen and J. Lundgren      Version Date: 13May2015

  • Abrahamson, W. G., A. F. Johnson, J. N. Layne, and P. A. Peroni. 1984. Vegetation of the Archbold Biological Station, Florida: An example of the southern Lake Wales Ridge. Florida Scientist 47:209-250.
  • Bennett, S. H., and J. B. Nelson. 1991. Distribution and status of Carolina bays in South Carolina. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Nongame and Heritage Trust Section, Columbia. 88 pp.
  • Bridges, E. L. 1988. A preliminary survey for potential natural areas in the Pine Flatwoods Region in southwestern Louisiana. Report to the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Baton Rouge. 31 pp.
  • Bridges, E. L., and S. L. Orzell. 1989a. Longleaf pine communities of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Natural Areas Journal 9:246-263.
  • Clewell, A. F. 1981. Natural setting and vegetation of the Florida Panhandle: An account of the environments and plant communities of northern Florida west of the Suwannee River. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mobile, AL. 773 pp.
  • Collins, M. E., R. Garren, and R. J. Kuehl. 2001. Ecological inventory of the Apalachicola National Forest. Summary report submitted to USDA Forest Service. Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida, Gainesville.
  • EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]. 2004. Level III and IV Ecoregions of EPA Region 4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Western Ecology Division, Corvallis, OR. Scale 1:2,000,000.
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., J. Drake, S. Gawler, M. Hall, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, L. Sneddon, K. Schulz, J. Teague, M. Russo, K. Snow, and P. Comer, editors. 2010-2017a. Divisions, Macrogroups and Groups for the Revised U.S. National Vegetation Classification. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. plus appendices. [in preparation]
  • FNAI [Florida Natural Areas Inventory]. 1990. Guide to the natural communities of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory and Florida Department of Natural Resources, Tallahassee. 111 pp.
  • Kindell, C. E., B. J. Herring, C. Nordman, J. Jensen, A. R. Schotz, and L. G. Chafin. 1997. Natural community survey of Eglin Air Force Base, 1993-1996: Final report. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee. 123 pp. plus appendix.
  • Peet, R. K., and D. J. Allard. 1993. Longleaf pine vegetation of the Southern Atlantic and Eastern Gulf Coast regions: A preliminary classification. Pages 45-81 in: S. M. Hermann, editor. The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem: Ecology, restoration and management. Proceedings of the eighteenth Tall Timbers fire ecology conference. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.
  • Sneddon, L. A., M. Anderson, and J. Lundgren. 1999. Classification of coastal plain pondshore communities of the Cape Cod National Seashore using the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Unpublished report to the Cape Cod National Seashore. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
  • Wharton, C. H. 1978. The natural environments of Georgia. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta. 227 pp.
  • Wieland, Ron G. Personal communication. Ecologist, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Mississippi Natural Heritage Program, Jackson.

USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

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Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Group level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
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  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
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Non U.S. Government
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Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. []

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber-
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (
J. Lundgren