Aquatic plants serve an important purpose in an aquatic environment. They play a key component in maintaining and enhancing the ecological balance in ponds, lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams. Beneficial aquatic plants have many values including filtering nutrients and toxic chemicals, stabilizing shorelines and providing important fish and wildlife habitat. Wisconsin Lake & Pond Resource sells and installs a number of aquatic plant species.
Provided is a list of beneficial aquatic plants offered. Ecological values and a description are included for a majority of the plant species.
|Emergent Plants||Submersed Plants||Wet Edge Plants|
(Plants that tend to grow near-shore with their leaves out of the water.)
|Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) also known as duck potato is a perennial herb that is a very common shoreline plant. As its name implies, leaves are shaped like an arrowhead. The leaves vary greatly in size and shape. Common arrowhead produces small white flowers made up of three rounded petals. Ecologically, duck potato is considered one of the highest valued aquatic plants for wildlife. The high-energy tubers and seeds are relished by a variety of wildlife, including several species of waterfowl. Arrowhead stands provide rearing habitat for fish and help aid in shoreline stabilization.|
|Blue Flag Water Iris (Iris versicolor) and Yellow Water Iris (Iris pseudacorus) are ornamental perennials that grow along shorelines. The sword-like leaves arise in late March to early April and grow 1-2 feet tall. Blue flag iris offers showy violet flowers that bloom during May to July. Yellow iris produces showy yellow flowers that bloom in July. Water iris is supported by a robust root network that provides excellent shoreline stabilization. Iris also offers important shoreline habitat for an array of wildlife.
|Softstem Bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani), Hardstem Bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus), Three-square Bulrush (Schoenoplectus pungens), and River Bulrush (Bolboschoenus fluviatilis) are common perennial pond and lake colonizers that can grow in water up to 5 feet. Softstem and hardstem bulrush support long cylindrical leaves that grow 3-8 feet high. Three-square has triangular leaves that grow 2-5 feet. Bulrushes provide important spawning, nursery, and foraging habitat for fish and waterfowl. Bulrush species are also very effective at taking up nutrients and stabilizing shorelines.|
|Pickerel Plant (Pontederia cordata) is an ornamental perennial that can grow in water up to 3 feet deep. Pickerel plant is made up of glossy, heart shaped leaves and a showy violet blue flower spike. The colorful flower stalk serves as a nectar source and home for many beneficial insects. Pickerel plant also offers exceptional habitat for both adult and juvenile fish. The robust leaves and rhizomes play a key role in shoreline stabilization and help buffer wave action.|
|White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata) emerges from a buried rhizome. Durable round stalks grow up from the rhizome. This perennial herb supports large round leaves (4-10 inches) wide that float at the water's
surface. By mid-summer showy white flowers float at the water's surface. Lilies serve as important fish cover, especially for largemouth bass. White water lily seeds, rhizomes, flowers, and leaves are consumed by many wildlife species. White water lilies also prevent shoreline erosion by slowing wave action.
|Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar variegata) also known as spatterdock is a perennial herb that produces yellow, rounded flowers. Large (4-10 inches) long, heart-shaped leaves float at the waters surface.
Spatterdock prefers soft sediment and can grow in water up to 6 feet deep. With large buried rhizomes, spatterdock helps stabilize bottom sediment. The large leaves also help buffer the impact of wave action on
the shoreline. Spatterdock offers excellent fish habitat. Seeds are eaten by waterfowl; leaves, rhizomes, and flowers are relished by beaver, moose, and deer.
|Water Arum (Calla palustris) is an ornamental perennial that supports heart shaped leaves that grow to 1 foot high. A showy white floral leaf surrounds a unique golden spadix. Water arum is a popular pond plant that usually prefers to grow in water less than 1 foot deep. Ecologically, arum provides habitat for fish and aquatic invertebrates. Berries of water arum are consumed by a variety of wildlife.|
|Water Plantain (Alisma subcordatum) is a common shoreline colonizer that grows well on exposed mud flats in water less than 1 foot deep. Water plantain is a perennial herb that supports broad, flat leaves that grow
1-2 feet high. Tiny white flowers are spread out on a highly branched flower stalk. Like arrowhead, water plantain has many ecological values. The sturdy flower stalk offers a popular perch for songbirds
and insects. A variety of waterfowl consume both tubers and nutlets. Water plantain also provides juvenile fish rearing habitat and shoreline buffering.
|Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) is a perennial herb that resembles cattails at first glance. Unlike cattails though, sweet flag does not grow to nuisance levels. The tall sword-like leaves produce an appealing spicy fragrance. A cigar looking spadix (seed-head) is a unique characteristic of sweet flag. This aquatic plant will grow in water up to 3 feet deep. Ecologically, sweet flag provides spawning habitat for fish and serves as an important stabilizer against erosion.|
|Common Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum) is a perennial herb that tends to grow in shallow waters. This emergent has sword-like leaves that resemble a compressed triangle in cross section and grow 2-4 feet.
Bur-reed produces a large seed crop that is consumed by a variety of waterfowl. Like bulrush, bur-reed provides excellent habitat for nesting birds and important habitat for fish. Common bur-reed also
anchors bottom sediment and offers nutrient filtering capabilities.
|Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) is an early growing perennial that establishes along shorelines in shallow water less than 1 foot deep. Each plant supports dense clusters of smooth cylindrical stems. The
leafless stems grow 1-3 feet. Soft rush is a popular pond plant because it is short enough to fish over and helps prevent the encroachment of cattails. Anchored by an impressive root network, soft rush offers
excellent shoreline stabilization. Soft rush also provides cover and seeds for a variety of birds.
|Bottlebrush Sedge (Carex comosa) and Porcupine Sedge (Carex hystericina) are perennial herbs that appear grass-like and have triangular solid stems. Sedges colonize on shorelines, wet meadows, and marshes. Most prefer to grow in water less than 1 foot deep. Sedges provide important nesting cover and food for a wide variety of songbirds, upland game birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Amphibians, including frogs and
salamanders utilize Carex for feeding, shade, and protection. Sedges also serve as important buffer species against nutrient loading and shoreline erosion.
|Wild Rice (Zizania aquatica) is an annual emergent grass that grows from seed each year. Flower stalks rise up to 9 feet tall. Wild Rice can grow in waters up to 3 feet deep. Rice establishes best in clear, shallow moving waters that have a mucky substrate. Ecologically, wild rice is prized by an array of wildlife. A variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds relish the large seeds. Muskrats use the robust stems for lodge building and as a food source. Wild rice beds also provide spawning habitat for fish and help stabilize bottom sediment.|
(Plants that tend to grow with their leaves under water.)
|Sago Pondweed (Stuckenia pectinata) is a perennial herb that emerges from a slender rhizome that contains many starchy tubers. Leaves are sharp, thin, and resemble a pine needle. Reddish nutlets (seeds) that resemble beads on a string rise to the water surface in mid-summer. Sago pondweed produces a large crop of seeds and tubers that are valued by waterfowl. Juvenile fish and invertebrates utilize sago pondweed for cover.|
|Water Celery (Vallisneria americana) also known as eel-grass has long ribbon-like leaves that emerge in clusters. Leaves have a prominent central stripe and leave tips tend to float gracefully at the water's surface. In the fall, a vegetative portion of the rhizome will break free and float to other locations. Water Celery is considered one of the best all natural waterfowl foods. The entire plant is relished by waterfowl, especially canvasbacks. Eel-grass beds serve as an important food source for sea ducks, marsh birds, and shore birds. Fish utilize water celery for cover.|
|Muskgrass (Chara spp.) is a complex algae that resembles a higher plant. It's identified by its pungent, odor and whorls of toothed branched leaves. Ecologically, muskgrass provides shelter for juvenile fish and is associated with black crappie spawning sites. Waterfowl love to feast on Chara when the plant bears its seed-like oogonia. Muskgrass serves an important role in stabilizing bottom sediment, tying up nutrients in the water column, and aiding with water clarity.|
(Plant species that tend to grow above the water's edge.). These species provide wildlife habitat and foraging opportunities as well as bank stabilization and nutrient filtration.
|Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)|
|Wool Grass (Scirpus cyperinus)|
|Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)|
|Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)|
|Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)|
|Green Bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens)|
|Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)|