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Major Wetland and Riparian Types

The diverse wetland and riparian plant associations described below are based on a 2017 revision of these elements of Oregon's vegetation classification. They are sorted informally into 16 generalized habitats that most people will recognize. The habitats are broadly defined by water chemistry, water temperature, vegetation structure, hydroperiod, soils, and landscape position. They can be herbaceous, shrub-dominated, or forested. Some are well known, some are rarities on the landscape, and at certain times of the year some may not appear to be wetlands at all. For convenience, they are listed alphabetically.

Sandy River Preserve

Sandy River Preserve
(Rick McEwan, The Nature Conservancy)

The following tools will help users to identify plant associations and locate additional sources of information about each one:

  1. Preface to 2017 Wetland and Riparian Classification: outlines the scope and content of the 2017 revision, including information about the classification system used, content of descriptions of the plant associations, and global and state conservation ranks.
  2. Key to Major Wetland and Riparian Habitats: identifies the 16 generalized wetland and riparian habitats used on the Oregon Explorer, each of which has its own web page containing information about each of the plant associations assigned to it (see #4).
  3. Keys to Wetland and Riparian Plant Associations: identifies plant associations recognized in the 2017 classification. These are sorted under four U.S. National Vegetation Classification (USNVC) vegetation classes: Forest and Woodland, Shrubland, Herbaceous, and Nonvascular. In parentheses following the name of each plant association is the name of the Oregon Explorer habitat web page on which information about the association may be found (see #4).
  4. Web pages for Major Wetland and Riparian Habitats: Each association has a photograph, when available, and a link to a print or web-based source that provides a description of the association. If a photograph of the association is not available on the web page, printed source materials usually include a photograph. Also provided are the global and state conservation rank of the association, its distribution among Oregon's 8 ecoregions, and in parentheses one or more citations of print or web sources that include page numbers where applicable. Whenever possible, botanical nomenclature, names of plant associations, and their global conservation ranks conform to USNVC. When citing source materials, USNVC is abbreviated "NVC", and NatureServe Explorer is abbreviated "NS".
  5. References Cited in 2017 Wetland and Riparian Classification: provides full citations and links to source materials.
  6. Changes in Plant Nomenclature: shows changes to plant names made since 2012. Botanical nomenclature follows the Oregon Flora Project checklist of June 2017 (version 1-7).
Major wetland and riparian habitats: