Red Maple Seepage Swamp Forest (Southern New England-Northern Piedmont)

Red Maple Seepage Swamp grows in shallow basins saturated with water during spring and summer, from southern New England to the Piedmont of Virginia. By mid-spring, it’s impossible to miss the carpet of skunk-cabbage in the shade beneath red maple, ashes, and other trees.

The Red Maple Seepage Swamp is found in groundwater-fed swamps from southern New England south to the Piedmont of Virginia.

The range map shows the states in which this natural community has been documented.

More About This Natural Community

In spring and early summer, the Red Maple Seepage Swamp is carpeted with skunk-cabbage. At other times of year, it can be quite sparse, with widely scattered ferns. This fairly uncommon natural community occurs in swampy areas fed by groundwater. Look for it in saturated situations on slightly sloping hillsides, along small streams, or in depressions. In general, these swamps are not particularly species-rich. The canopy is dominated by red maple, and you’ll often also see green ash and white ash. Other trees might include tuliptree and swamp white oak. In the shrub layer, you may see common winterberry, northern spicebush, and sweet pepperbush (summersweet). In the field layer (low plants) look for skunk-cabbage in spring and summer, and cinnamon fern from spring to fall.

Soils are mucky and the topography may be hummocky. For a more in-depth look at this community, click on a link under “Where to Explore It.”

Look for It in These National Parks

  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Central Appalachians)
  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Lower New England)
  • Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
  • Gateway National Recreation Area
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Minute Man National Historical Park
  • Morristown National Historical Park
  • Prince William Forest Park
  • Rock Creek Park
  • Saratoga National Historical Park
  • Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River
  • Weir Farm National Historic Site
  • Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

Conservation Status

How vulnerable is a natural community? Is it at risk of elimination? Learn about conservation status.

Global Conservation Status: 
G4G5 – Apparently Secure to Secure


Official names reduce confusion by providing a common language for talking about natural communities. Why so many names?

Common Name: 
Red Maple Seepage Swamp Forest (Southern New England-Northern Piedmont)
Scientific Name Translated: 
Red Maple - (Green Ash, White Ash) / Northern Spicebush / Skunk-Cabbage Swamp Forest
Classification Code: