Peat-land fen wetlands are non-tidal and occur in areas of deep, organic peat that is very acidic and nutrient-poor. They are also very rare and unique in the Delaware landscape. Peat-land fens usually develop at the bottom of moderate slopes, where groundwater is forced up by impermeable clay soils. These wetlands have shallow standing water throughout the year. The vegetation is usually a mosaic of trees, shrubs, grasses, sedges, and rushes. Peat-land fens can occur within stream corridors associated with Atlantic white cedar, and also at the edge of salt marshes adjacent to sandy slopes where there is acidic groundwater seepage.
The photos below show how different the same fen can look throughout the year, using Cherry Walk Creek as an example.
These areas are typically small and off-the-beaten path, offering unique and essential habitats to some of Delaware's rarest and most threatened species.
Like all Delaware wetlands, fens are sensitive and easily disturbed by adjacent land use activities.
Page reviewed 5/14/19