In autumn, when the rains come,
the rivers and the ponds
overflow their banks.
As it flows along the fields
and the floor of the forest,
the water gathers up
the fallen leaves.
The silver maples are
still a pale gray-green
tinting toward yellow,
but the red maples are
already scarlet and crimson,
a fire floating underwater.
Box elder and buttonbush blaze
in shades of orange, dropping
their lozenges into the flow.
The big rippled leaves of
sycamore and cottonwood
float by like brown and gold plates.
A few strays of oak and elm
and hickory drift in from higher ground.
The yellow slivers of willow are everywhere,
dotted with burgundy and purple dogwood.
Overhead the vines of riverbank grape
bind the canopy together, dropping
their rusty leaves in the water.
This flood is shallow and
not particularly swift, unlike
the spring runoff raging with life.
It ambles its way toward winter,
carrying spindles and spatulas
of unexpected color, gathering in
eddies of river and pool and pond.
In some places it runs clear,
but in others it turns murky.
When at last the water recedes,
the leaves are left lilting in puddles
like stained-glass windows,
leaded by mud, lit by sun.
By the time even the mud has dried,
the leaves have turned brown,
becoming one with the earth again.
* * *
Wetlands may be forested (primarily covered by trees), scrub (primarily covered by bushes), or otherwise. Riverbottom land can be either, or a mix of both; it's dry much of the time, but floods frequently.
These are are some trees and shrubs that can tolerate standing water:
Acer negundo – Box Elder
Acer rubrum – Red/Swamp Maple
Cephalanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush
Populus deltoides – Dogtooth Cottonwood
Quercus macrocarpa -- Burr Oak
Salix Babylonica – Babylon/Weeping Willow
Salix exigua – Sandbar Willow
Salix nigra – Black Willow
Vitis riparia – Riverbank Grape
Read more about wetland plants.
Maples tolerate water well and their seeds are easily washed downstream to new places.
Most oaks are upland trees, but some species such as swamp white oak and bur oak thrive in wetter areas.
One ubiquitous wetland plant is willow, and elm also appears. Willows may be found in many types.
Among wetland shrubs are dogwood and buttonbush.
Riverbank grape is a common vine.