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Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: North

Course Code: EH0501CB19

This course is eligible for continuing education credits toward the Society of Wetland Scientists’
Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) Certificate Program.

Wetland Vegetation Identification Training

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Date & Time

Last Held: May 23-24, 2019
8:30am - 5:00pm (Check-in time on Day 1: 8:00am)

Click here to see upcoming Vegetation Identification courses.


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 distinguish between upland and wetland plant species is an essential step in the wetland delineation process.

In this two-day course, you will learn how to identify plant species frequently encountered by wetland delineators in northern and central New Jersey and neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. By the end of the course, you will be able to use two common field guides to quickly and confidently identify wetland plant species that are important in determining if an area meets the hydrophytic vegetation criterion for wetland delineation.

Students can expect to see over 100 different plant species, including trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, while learning how to use two basic field guides for identifying wetland and upland plants. Guided by instructor and wetlands expert Ralph Tiner, students will have the opportunity to explore vegetation in freshwater wetland habitats typical of the region.

This is a field-based course, so please dress accordingly for the outdoors!

NOTE: If you are planning to achieve the Wetland Delineation Certificate, we require that you complete this course and Hydric Soils prior to attending the Methodology for Delineating Wetlands course.

Click on the tabs below for more details about this wetland vegetation identification course.

Featured Topics Covered in this Vegetation Identification Course:

  • Introduction to Plant Identification and Wetland Plant Indicator Statuses
  • Use of Plant Identification Keys in the Field
  • Plant Names, Plant Groups, General Plant Morphology
  • Basic Botanical Terminology
  • Woody Plant Morphology
  • Grass Morphology
  • Sedge/Rush Morphology

Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: North - Day 1 (Somerset County Environmental Education Center)

8:00am - 8:30am: Reception, Coffee/Refreshments, Registration
8:30am - 9:00am: Introductions, Introduction to the Course, Overview of References
9:00am - 9:30am: Review of Diagnostic Plant Characteristics
9:30am - 9:45am: Break
9:45am - 11:00am: Introduction to the Use of Field Guides for Plant Identification (Newcomb's Wildflower Guide and Field Guide to Nontidal Wetland
11:00am - 12:00pm: Use Field Guides to Identify Plants in and around Wetlands - Somerset County Environmental Center (SCEC)
12:00pm - 12:30pm: Lunch
12:30pm - 4:00pm:

Use Field Guides to Identify Plants in and around Wetlands - SCEC and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

4:00pm - 4:30pm: Return to classroom and wrap-up

Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: North - Day 2 (Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge)

8:30am - 9:00am: Coffee/Refreshments
9:00am - 10:30am: Lecture on plants characteristic of freshwater wetlands in northern New Jersey and New England
10:30am - 11:15am: Break and bus to High Point State Park
11:15am - 12:00pm Use Field Guides to Identify Plants in and around Wetlands - High Point State Park
12:00pm - 12:30pm: Lunch at High Point State Park
12:30pm - 4:30pm: Use Field Guides to Identify Plants in and around Wetlands - High Point State Park and Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge (if time permits)
4:30pm - 5:00pm: Return to classroom and wrap-up

* Note that field sites are subject to change due to site availability.

Required Textbooks

This wetland vegetation identification course is designed for anyone who wants to gain experience identifying wetland plants, including:

  • Arborists and Forestry Technicians
  • Biologists
  • Ecologists
  • Engineers
  • Environmental Scientists, Environmental Consultants, and Environmental Planners
  • Geologists and Hydrogeologists
  • GIS Specialists
  • Landscape Architects and Landscape Designers
  • Land Surveyors
  • Wetland Delineators and Wetland Scientists

Comments from Past Students about this Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation course:

"It was very hands on. Definitely helped me improve my skills with keying out different species. Was able to become more familiarized with some trees."
- Jen Reed, Ecologist

"It gives you a good, general education about local wetland vegetation which can be built upon."

"The site walks were very hands-on and very helpful."

"I found many more species that I can use to make my identification of wetlands more complete."

"Great introduction to plant species found in our area."

"Found everything to be useful and informative."

raplph tiner, wetlands instructorRalph 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."

Jump-Start Your Career with a Rutgers Wetland Certificate!

Promote your education and experience in wetland plant identification and delineation -- earn the nationally recognized Rutgers Wetland Delineation Certificate!

This certificate program consists of 7 days of training: 2-day Vegetation Identification course (North or South ONLY), 2-day Hydric Soils class, and 3-day Methodology of Delineating Wetlands course.

Participants must also complete the online exam with a score of 70% or better in order to earn the certificate.

NOTE: If you are planning to earn the Wetland Delineation Certificate, we require that you complete Vegetation Identification and Hydric Soils prior to attending the Methodology of Delineating Wetlands class.

Vegetation Identification Course - North: Photo Slideshow

Recertification Credits

The May 23-24, 2019 offering of this course was 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:

Certified Public Works Managers - 5 Technical, 5 Management

Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) Credits - 16 hours

NJ Landscape Architects - 12 hours

NJ Professional Engineers - 12 Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) credits

NY Landscape Architects - 4 hours CL; 10 hours EA

NY Professional Engineers/Land Surveyors - 12 hours

Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program (SWSPCP) - Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: North 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 education program will be awarded 13.0 NJ Public Health Continuing Education Contact Hours (CEs).

Society of American Foresters Credits - Category 1: 13.00; Category 2: 0.0

The Wildlife Society - 12 hours

Required Textbooks

There are 2 Required Textbooks for this Course:

1. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide [ISBN 0316604429] by Lawrence Newcomb - $25.00 (You may purchase this book on your own or through our office with your registration.)

2. Field Guide to Nontidal Wetland Identification by R.W. Tiner - $50.00 (This book is only available through our office.)


Early Registration Fee



Multi-Course Registration Fee



Registration Fee



Cancellation Fee



Substitutions are permitted. View cancellation policy.


Continental breakfast and deli buffet lunch will be provided to you at no additional cost.

NOTE: If you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies, please alert us at least one (1) week in advance of the course start date so that we can make reasonable accommodations. We cannot guarantee accommodations for special requests made after that time.


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.


Sorry, registration is not currently available for this course.

Would you like to be notified when the next offering is scheduled? 
Here are 3 convenient ways to be added to our mailing list:
1. Click here to join our mailing list (please reference "Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: North" or Course Code EH0501) 
2. Call us at 848-932-9271, select option 3
3. E-mail us at ocpe@njaes.rutgers.edu

Program Questions? Contact Us!

Program Coordinator: Suzanne Hills, 848-932-7234
Administrative Assistant: Arleth Mendoza, 848-932-7764

Attention U.S. Veterans

This course is approved by the New Jersey State Approving Agency for Veterans Training for educational benefits through the GI Bill®. For more information about the GI Bill, click here.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.