Evaluate Your Fen (Plant Facts)

Working in fenThese plants are indicators to help you determine whether you have prairie fen, and to help you assess the progress of your prairie fen restoration. The species included here are those that you are most likely to find at different stages in restoration in the sedge meadow sub-community of prairie fens. They are in three broad groups: plants found in degraded areas, plants you are likely to find in recently restored or disturbed areas, and plants characteristic of high-quality fen.

These species were chosen as representatives for several reasons: they are primarily wildflowers that are straightforward to identify when flowering, and they are quite common in many fens. There are many more plant species than those listed here, especially sedges and grass species. In addition, remember to look for other signs that you have a prairie fen, including peat and marl soils, and water seeps. The best time of year to assess your fen based on plants is in late August and early September, when many of the larger flowering species are in bloom.  

Click for a list of plant species sorted by:

Habitat quality

Low includes species that are invasive or would be found in shaded areas with invasive species. Medium includes species that become more common in the several years following restoration activities. High includes species that would be found in intact prairie fens, that is, areas that have few invasive species and are not densely shrubbed in. Species may be found in more than one of those situations, so some are included in more than one of these categories.

Low quality

Medium quality

High quality

Back to top of page

Common name

Back to top of page

Scientific name

Back to top of page










No flowers/flowers not readily obvious

Back to top of page

Flower type

When plants are in bloom, they may be identified by the number and arrangement of flower parts. A detailed description of each classification can be found on the third page of each fact sheet.

No flowers

Flowers not readily obvious

Parts indistinguishable


Five regular parts

Six regular parts

Seven or more regular parts


Fewer than five regular parts

Back to top of page

Plant type

Plant species are sorted by their growth habit here, based on how long they live, how they grow, and whether they grow woody stems that persist into the next growing season.

Flowering annual

Flowering perennial

Flowering biennial







Back to top of page