No, it is not a car with bushes growing on it; it’s a carr—from a Scandinavian word for understory. Shrub Carr is a Native Wisconsin Wetland Community.
• Considered a wetland because soils are waterlogged and seasonally flooded
•Dominant vegetative type is tall deciduous shrubs like Red Osier Dogwood (Cornussericea), Willow (Salix spp.), and Nannyberry (Viburnumlentago)
•Grassy understory. There is rich diversity if relatively undisturbed ecosystem.
•High value habitat for many birds such as American Goldfinch (Carduelistristis) and American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), and is particularly important winter habitat for cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagusfloridanus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileusvirginianus).
At the turn of the century there was little Shrub-Carr habitat in Wisconsin. Wetlands were being drained and marsh hay was regularly mowed for animal bedding and ice storage. Now, however, this community type is expanding its range is because these activities have decreased dramatically.
Another important reason this community is expanding is that wildfire is controlled. This habitat is an intermediate stage between marsh or sedge meadow and upland forest. Without fire, shrub species can become established. In some parts of Wisconsin, Shrub-Carr covers extensive areas and is sometimes targeted for elimination.
How to Manage
Water flow needs to be maintained and invasive plants need to be controlled.
Help! The Aliens are Invading!
Take a look at this plant community. Does it look like it is all one species? Invasive plants are a problem here, especially Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus) frangula) and Common Buckthorn (Rhamnuscathartica). Both of these out-compete native species for space and nutrients. If that isn’t bad enough, another non-native, Reed Canary Grass (Phalarisarundinacea), invades the understory. When the buckthorn increases the canopy cover, the understory diversity greatly decreases.
MOLS is trying to correct this problem by control of these invasive plants through mechanical, chemical and biological means. You can make a difference by volunteering your time to help with this effort. Check the MOLS Webpage on the School District Website. You will find names, phone numbers, and planned activities.