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Identification of Wetland Plants in Winter

Course Code: EH0205CA22

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

Vegetation ID

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Date & Time

January 10 & 11, 2022
8:00am - 4:30pm (Check-in time on Day 1: 7:30am)


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: Break
10:30am - 12:00pm: Use of keys to identify woody plants in classroom
12:00pm - 12:45pm: Lunch
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: Continental Breakfast
8:30am - 10:30am: Indoor and Outdoor Specimen Review
10:30am - 10:50am: Break
10:50am - 12:00pm: Outdoor Session
12:00pm - 12:45pm: Lunch
12:45pm - 4:00pm: Outdoor Session
4:00pm - 4:30pm: Wrap-up

*Field site locations for Day 2 may change.

Required Textbooks

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
  • Engineers
  • 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!"

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."
Continuing Education 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

NY Landscape Architects: 14 hr EA

NJ Landscape Architects: Pending

NY Land Surveyors: 12 hours

NY Professional Engineers: 12 PDHs

NJ Professional Engineers: 12 CPC credits

Society of American Foresters (SAF): Pending

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 will be awarded 16.0 CEs.

The Wildlife Society: 7.5 CEUs

Required Textbooks

There are 2 Required Textbooks for this Course:

  1. Winter Guide to Woody Plants of Wetlands and Their Borders - R.W. Tiner - $18.00 (Waterproof edition available for $30.00)

    Both versions of this textbook are only available through our office. Please make your preferred selection with your registration at checkout.

  2. A Guide to Wildflowers in Winter - Carol Levine - $30.00

    You may purchase this textbook on your own or through our office with your registration at checkout.
Early Registration Fee $650.00 Register on or before December 20, 2021 and save!
Registration Fee $750.00 After December 20, 2021
Cancellation Fee $100.00  

Substitutions are permitted. View cancellation policy.


No breakfast or lunch will be provided at this course. Students must bring their own lunch.

COVID-19 Mask/Face Covering Policy

All students are required to wear masks or face coverings indoors in both the classroom and all public spaces (restrooms, hallways, elevators, stairwells, etc.). Masks are generally not required outdoors but may be required outdoors at the discretion of the instructor. Social distancing is recommended where possible. Masks may be removed when eating. Food is not permitted in classrooms.

If you are not feeling well or have any COVID symptoms, please protect yourself and others by staying home. Contact us to cancel you registration at 848-932-9271, option 2 or registration@njaes.rutgers.edu.


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.


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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: Arleth Mendoza, 848-932-7764