Swamps are lowland areas supporting woody plants, plants adapted to highly organic soils that are nearly saturated with water. There may be pockets of standing water. Locally, there are two types of swampland, wooded and shrub, which frequently merge with rather indistinct boundaries.
These areas are usually dominated by red maple, black willow, sour gum, sweetbay magnolia and occasionally, pitch pine.
Their spreading root mats create a stable surface over much of the swamp, and shrub growth is scattered and varied. Cinnamon fern and netvein chainfern occur, and familiar herbaceous plants include jewelweed, bur-reed, rattlebox and on the richest sites, skunk cabbage.
These are characterized by conditions which do not permit the growth of red maple of other large trees. Such sites usually exist between wooded swamps and tidal marshes, or at the head of freshwater ponds and lowland basins. Acidity is most likely a factor determining plant diversity. Sweetbay magnolia is the tallest species on acidic sites surrounded by silty soils. The dense shrub layer of these swamps contains many attractive species, including smooth winterberry, smooth alder, swamp rose, blackberry, highbush blueberry, swamp azalea, buttonbush and arrowwood.
Numerous species of birds find abundant food, shelter and nesting sites amid the thick vegetation of the swamp. Migrating birds, especially warblers abound here. Amphibians are numerous, the familiar sound of spring peepers marking the end of winter.