Wetland plants, also known as hydrophytes or hydrophytic vegetation, have adaptations that enable them to grow and reproduce with their roots in water or saturated soil for at least part of the year. In contrast, plants that cannot survive in saturated conditions are commonly referred to as upland plants.
Along with hydric soils and hydrology, the presence of wetland plants is one of the primary factors involved in the identification of wetland areas and the delineation of wetland boundaries. Therefore, the ability to identify wetland plants and and distinguish between upland and wetland plant species is an essential step in the wetland delineation process.
This 2-day course gives you the opportunity to increase your wetland expertise by learning to identify vegetation during the winter months! Through a combination of classroom and field training, nationally recognized wetland expert Ralph Tiner will give you the tools to gain a competitive edge in the field of wetland delineation all year long.
By examining criteria such as bark, twigs, and other leafless characteristics, you'll learn how to positively identify wetland plants even when winter conditions eliminate leaves as a distinguishing feature.
This is a field-based course, so please dress accordingly for the outdoors!
NOTE: This course is NOT part of the Wetland Delineation Certificate Series. If you wish to earn the certificate, you must take Vegetation Identification North or South.
Click on the tabs below for more details about this wetland vegetation identification course.
Featured Plant Communities Covered in this Winter Vegetation Identification Course:
- Freshwater Marsh
- Scrub Shrub Swamp
- Red Maple Swamp
- Floodplain Forest
- Upland Meadow
- Wet Meadow
Day 1: Explore Northern Wetland Vegetation in Basking Ridge, NJ
|800am - 8:30am:
||Registration and Continental Breakfast
|8:30am - 8:50am:
||Introduction of Instructor, Introductions of Students, Introduction to the Course, Overview of References
|8:50am - 10:20am:
||Woody Plant Identification: Bark, Twigs, Leaves, General Woody Plant Morphology
Woody Plant Terminology, Use of Winter Botany Keys
|10:20am - 10:30am:
|10:30am - 12:00pm:
||Use of keys to identify woody plants in classroom
|12:00pm - 12:45pm:
|12:45pm - 4:00pm:
||Field exercises – using keys to ID plants at Great Swamp
|4:00pm - 4:30pm:
||Review and Q & A
Day 2: Explore Southern Wetland Vegetation in New Brunswick, NJ*
|800am - 8:30am:
|8:30am - 10:30am:
||Indoor and Outdoor Specimen Review
|10:30am - 10:50am:
|10:50am - 12:00pm:
|12:00pm - 12:45pm:
|12:45pm - 4:00pm:
|4:00pm - 4:30pm:
*Field site locations for Day 2 may change.
This wetland vegetation identification course is designed for anyone who wants to gain experience identifying wetland plants during the winter months, including:
- Ecologists and Biologists
- Environmental Scientists, Environmental Consultants, and Environmental Planners
- GIS Analysts
- Horticulturists and Arborists
- Landscape Architects, Landscape Designers, and Landscape Contractors
- Land Surveyors
- Natural Resources Specialists
- Naturalists and Conservationists
- Wetlands Specialists and Wetland Scientists
Comments from Past Students about the Winter Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation course:
"Covers a variety of plant species, and a lot of time spent in the field. Good tools and resources provided... [I'm] excited to attend the next course!"
-Lindsay Kromel, Environmental Engineer
"Good introduction to winter botany, covers terms and ID needed to get started. [Now I will] rely more on keys, different sources to help narrow down ID."
- Robert Bird, Environmental Specialist
"[The most useful aspect of the program was] learning what to look for in identifying [plants] and what resources to use. I thought it would be like looking at slides and memorizing, but it was actually very hands-on and informative."
"Very informative…good 'tricks' for identifying plants during winter."
"This training will be used on a daily basis by those of us performing winter field work requiring plant knowledge."
"Good discussion of bark types that will certainly improve winter time ID."
"This class makes me want to go out and identify species for fun!"
Ralph Tiner, M.S., M.P.A., SWS Fellow has over 40 years of practical experience in wetland delineation and is a nationally recognized authority in the field. He recently retired from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service where he directed wetland mapping in the Northeast United States as part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's National Wetlands Inventory (NWI). He is a nationally recognized expert on wetland delineation and has been actively involved in improving wetland delineation techniques for decades. In addition, he was compiler and principal author of the Federal Interagency Wetland Delineation Manual, which was published in 1989 and is the standard for identifying and delineating wetlands in New Jersey.
Ralph has written extensively on the subject of wetlands and is the author of several field guides including: Field Guide to Non-tidal Wetland Identification, Maine Wetlands and Their Boundaries, A Field Guide to Coastal Wetland Plants of the Northeastern United States, and In Search of Swampland, as well as an update of the Wetland Indicators book entitled Wetland Indicators: A Guide to Wetland Formation, Identification, Delineation, Classification, and Mapping. His most recent books are: Tidal Wetlands Primer: An Introduction to Their Ecology, Natural History, Status, and Conservation and Remote Sensing of Wetlands: Applications and Advances (for which he is senior editor and authored several chapters).
In addition to writing about wetlands, he has been teaching wetland identification and delineation courses through the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education Office since the mid-1980s.
Comments from Past Students about Ralph Tiner:
- "Ralph is the dude! Entertaining and excellent teacher. Ralph has a deep knowledge of wetlands and much more, is a joy to listen to."
-Thomas D'Angelo, Environmental Consultant
- "Very knowledgeable about plants and wetlands in general, entertaining teaching style."
- "Patient, great at guiding field exercises."
- "Great expertise and hands on experience."
- "Mr. Tiner is very knowledgeable and friendly in his teaching methods."
The December 16-17, 2019 offering of this course has been approved for the following credits. We will reapply for similar credits the next time the course runs, but we cannot guarantee credit approval for future offerings.
In addition to 1.6 Rutgers CEUs, this wetland training course is approved for the following credits:
NJ Certified Public Works Managers - 5 Technical, 5 Management
Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) Credits - 15 hours
NY Landscape Architects - 14 hr EA
NJ Landscape Architects - 14 hours
NY Land Surveyors - 12 hours
NY Professional Engineers - 12 PDHs
NJ Professional Engineers - 12 CPC credits
Society of American Foresters (SAF) - Category 1: 16.5
Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program (SWSPCP) - Identification of Wetland Plants in Winter has been pre-approved for 0.8 equivalent semester hours by the SWSPCP as meeting standards for content and instruction toward SWSPCP Professional Certification or SWSPCP Professional Certification Renewal. Approval per course is calculated based upon 15 hours of contact time per credit. Click here for more information about the Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program (SWSPCP).
ATTENTION HEALTH OFFICERS AND REGISTERED ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALISTS: Rutgers University, NJAES, Office of Continuing Professional Education has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Health as a provider of NJ Public Health Continuing Education Contact Hours (CEs). Participants who complete this course wil be awarded 13.0 CEs.
The Wildlife Society - 9 CEUs in Category 1
We strongly recommend that you use the directions we provide.
Somerset County Environmental Education Center - Lord Stirling Park
190 Lord Stirling Road, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Directions and Map
(Day 2 is held at a separate location. Further information will be provided in your registration packet.)
Note: Pre-registration is required. We're sorry, but we cannot guarantee a seat, materials or meals for walk-in registrants. Location is subject to change; registrants will be notified in the event of a change.