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Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: North


Course Code: EH0501WA21

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

Online Class Sessions: May 17-18, 2021, 8:30am – 12:30pm EDT (Log in time on Day 1: 8:15am EDT)

*Field Trip #1 to Somerset County Environmental Center: May 25, 2021; 8:00am - 12:30pm EDT or 1:00pm - 5:30pm EDT

*Field Trip #2 to High Point State Park: May 26, 2021; 8:00am - 12:30pm EDT or 1:00pm - 5:30pm EDT

All students are required to attend both half-day online sessions, a half-day field trip to Somerset County Environmental Center, and a half-day field trip to High Point State Park to complete the course.

*Federal, state, and university regulations permitting

View other 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 hybrid course made up of four half-day sessions, you will learn how to identify plant species frequently encountered by wetland delineators in Northern and Central New Jersey, as well as neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. By the end of the course, you will be able to quickly and confidently identify the wetland plant species that are important in determining if an area meets the hydrophytic vegetation criterion for wetland delineation.

During the field trips, 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. Please dress for the outdoors on field trip days!

NOTE: If you are planning to achieve the Wetland Delineation Certificate, we require that you complete this course 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

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 our Vegetation Identification course (North or South sessions ONLY; Winter and Tidal Plants are NOT part of the certificate series) and our 4-day Methodology of Delineating Wetlands course.

Participants must also complete the take-home 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 prior to attending the Methodology of Delineating Wetlands class.

Vegetation Identification Course - North: Photo Slideshow

Recertification Credits

In addition to 1.6 Rutgers CEUs, this wetland training course is approved for the following credits:

NJ Certified Public Works Managers (CPWM): 5 Technical, 5 Management

Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) Credits: Pending

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: 12 hours

NY Land Surveyors: Pending

Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program (SWSPCP): Pending

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: Pending

The Wildlife Society: Pending

Required Textbooks

There are two 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.)


Wetland Series Rate


Save when you register now for this course and Methodology for Delineating Wetlands!

Early Registration Fee


Register on or before May 3, 2020 and save!

Registration Fee


After May 3, 2020

Cancellation Fee



Substitutions are permitted. View cancellation policy.


No meals will be provided at this course.


Online Session (May 17-18, 2021):

This online portion of this course will be delivered via the Rutgers Canvas learning management system. Registrants will receive an email with a link to access the course and a document with tips on how to use Canvas prior to the course start date. Please log into Canvas at 8:15am EDT on May 17, 2021 for a brief overview of the online format. The class will start promptly at 8:30am EDT.

Equipment you will need to access this training:

  • A computer (desktop or laptop)
  • A webcam and microphone are necessary as this course is very interactive


  • If this is your first time registering with us, please provide your own unique email address when registering; do not provide an email address that you share with co-workers.

  • If you have previously taken classes with us and have used an email address that you share with your co-workers or supervisor, you must update your account with a unique email address. Click the Register Online button below and sign into your account. On the left side toolbar, click My Account. On the drop-down menu, click Edit Profile/Password. Scroll down to the Email Address field (not the secondary email address field!) and enter your own, individual (not shared!) email address here. Click the Submit button at the bottom to save. If you need assistance updating your account, please email or call (848-932-9271, option 2) our Registration Department.

Field Trip #1 (May 25, 2021):

Somerset County Environmental Education Center - Lord Stirling Park
190 Lord Stirling Road, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Directions and Map

Field Trip #2 (May 26, 2021):

High Point State Park
Sussex, NJ
Visit park website for more information.

Note: Pre-registration is required. Location is subject to change; registrants will be notified in the event of a change.


Registration will close on May 10, 2021.

To Pay By Credit Card:

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To Pay By Check, Money Order, or Purchase Order:

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For Registration Assistance:

Please call 848-932-9271, option 2.

Program Questions? Contact Us!

Program Coordinator: Suzanne Hills, 848-932-7234
Administrative Assistant: Sarah McCarthy, 848-932-7703