New York Natural Heritage Program
Red Maple-Sweetgum Swamp

General Description [-]
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is often the dominant tree or may be codominant with red maple (Acer rubrum).

The shrub layer is usually fairly well-developed. Characteristic shrubs are sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum var. lucidum), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) and possibly fetterbush (Leucothoe racemosa).

The herbaceous layer is often dominated by ferns, including netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis). Characteristic herbs include lizard's-tail (Saururus cernuus), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
Red maple-sweetgum swamps occur on somewhat poorly drained seasonally wet flats, usually on somewhat acidic gleyed to mottled clay loam or sandy loam. Red maple-sweetgum swamps often occur as a mosaic with upland forest communities. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is often the dominant tree or may be codominant with red maple (Acer rubrum).

Elevation Range [-]
Known examples of this community have been found at elevations between 8 feet and 190 feet.
Red Maple-Sweetgum Swamp Images
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The Best Time to See
The community vegetation is at its peak during midsummer; at this time ferns, sedges, and herbs can be readily observed and identified. Striking seasonal leaf color can be enjoyed in the fall.