Native Aquatic Plants
Tech Talk 73
Aquatic plants (macrophytes) are a desirable component of most aquatic ecosystems. They provide food and habitat for fish and other animals. On a smaller scale, aquatic plants provide habitat and food for tiny attached plants and animals, which are then used as food by larger animals. Aquatic plants also provide erosion control, thus increasing water clarity. Aquatic plants native to your area are most desirable because native insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians and birds are adapted to them.
Aquatic plants include rooted vascular plants with floating leaves, submerged weeds, free-floating plants and emergent weeds and grasses, including sedges and rushes.
Common ones are:
- American waterweed (Elodea canadensis): Waterweed is an important food for waterfowl, muskrat and beaver. Fish, amphibians and insects also use waterweed for habitat.
- Bladderworts (Utricularia species): Bladderworts benefit ponds by trapping mosquito larvae on underwater bladder-traps.
- Bulrushes (Scirpus species): Bulrushes provide food for wild birds.
- Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum): Coontail provides habitat for young fish and other small aquatic animals. • Giant duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza): Giant duckweed provides habitat for invertebrates and food for waterfowl.
- Maidencane (Panicum hemitomon): Maidencane provides food, protective cover and nesting materials for water birds and other wildlife.
- Pondweeds (Potamogeton species): Pondweeds are very important as food for wildlife, especially waterfowl. They also provide habitat for insects and young fish.
- Rushes (Juncus species): Rushes provide food, protective cover and nesting materials for water birds and other wildlife.
- Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense): Sawgrasses provide habitat and food for water birds and other wildlife.
- Tape grass (Vallisneria americana): Tape grass (or eel grass) is an important food for waterfowl and aquatic mammals. It is also good cover for young fish and spawning habitat for some fish species.
- Water lily (Nymphaea species): Water lilies are an important food source for waterfowl and many mammal species. They also provide protective cover for fish.
Note: Whether or not a certain plant is native or invasive will depend upon where you live.
Ask locally to make sure your aquatic plants are noninvasive species.
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