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Emersed Plants

Arrowhead Lance LeafArrowhead Lance Leaf

Perenial with "lance" shaped leaves that can reach 3+ ft. Found in wetlands, lakes, ponds, ditches, and wet swales. Planting depth 3-12 inches. Sun-part sun and flood tolerance. Three petaled white flower on long stem. Helps pull phosphates and nitrates from water and improve water quality. Often planted with Pickerelweed.


Common perennial with long, green leaves that reach 3+ ft. Found near margins of various wetlands, lakes and ponds. Creates large colonies both vegetatively and by seed. Produces erect purple flowers. Planting depth 2-24 inches. Sun-part sun and flood tolerance. Wildfowl/life value. Often planted with Arrowhead and Spikerush. Helps pull phosphates and nitrates from water and improve water quality.

Duck PotatoDuck Potato

Perenial with "arrow head" shaped leaves that can reach 3+ ft. Found in wetlands, lakes, ponds, ditches, and wet swales. Planting depth 3-12 inches. Sun-part sun and flood tolerance. Three petaled white flower on long stem. Helps pull phosphates and nitrates from water and improve water quality. Often planted with Pickerelweed.


Salt tolerant coastal grass that reaches max 2.5 ft. Rhizomatous low mats used for coastal soil stabilization. Recognized by its spiked green grass blades and dense colonies. Habitats include: moist to wet coastal sites such as brackish to freshwater shorelines. Sun and salt tolerant. May adapt to upland coastal elevations with slower growth.

Cypress TreeCypress Tree

Baldcypress is a large tree which may reach heights of 100' to 150' and grows in slow and fast flowing-water wetlands.. The trunk is usually buttressed and fluted at the base in extremely wet areas. It has a pyramidal-shaped crown when it is young that gradually becomes flat-topped with age. When growing in water, it has shallow roots that often arise from the soil in the shape of cones called pneumatophores, or "knees."


Perennial that grows in dense colonies and can reach up to 4+ ft. Found in shallow wetlands but adapts to upland areas. Sun, wet-moist, and poor soil tolerance.


The two native species of canna are emersed plants. Cannas are showy and typically grow to 4 feet tall in small stands at the edges of marshes, ponds and lakes. Canna has been hybridized and may also be found in household gardens. Depending on the species, canna flowers are showy yellow or red. The flowers grow in clusters at the tops of long stalks. Canna leaves attached in a spiral along the stem. The leaf shape is oblong to elliptical, with tapering bases and pointed tips. The large leaves may be 6 inches wide and 2 feet long. The fruit is a large three-part capsule that is rough to the touch.

Rush FuirenaRush Fuirena

Rush fuirena is an emersed plant. It grows from may lakes and ponds into adjacent wet meadows. Rush fuirena stems grow to about 2 feet tall. The steams are jointed. There are sheaths at the joints. This plant has no leaf bladed, but dow have leaf sheaths encircling the stem. The inflorescence of rush ruirena is at the top of the stem and consists of 1 to 3 rather large (t 1/2 inch) spikelets. The spikelets are brown, blunt, ovoids.

American LotusAmerican Lotus

The grandiose American lotus is an emersed native. Its leaves may be emersed above the water or floating on the surface. The plant can be found in muddy, shallow waters such as lake margins, or in water as deep as 6 feet. This large plant is very easy to identify. It's flowers are extremely large, typically 6 inches wide. Flowers are luminescent yellow with many petals and stamens. American lotus leaves are circular, and do not have a "cut", as do water lily leaves. The lotus leaf is on a long, stiff stalk that is connected to the leaf at the very center of the leaf, umbrella-like. American lotus seedpods are sold as ornamental items.

Sand CordgrassSand Cordgrass

Sand cordgrass is an emersed plant that grows to form tall meadows. Like other Spartina species, it may be found in brackish- or salt marshes, but unlike other Spartina species, it also flourishes in freshwater areas. This cordgrass has erect stems that are typically 4 to 6 feet tall. The stems grow together into thick clumps. These grasses have narrow, ascending leaf blades that grow to 2 1/2 feet long. The leaf blades are often rolled and cylindrical-looking, as seen in cross-section. The leaves are pointed, they are tough, and they may feel sandpapery on top. The closed inflorescence is at the top of the stem.

Soft Stem BulrushSoft-Stem Bulrush

The soft-stem bulrush, like other Scirpus, is an emersed sedge. It can grow into large colonies in the mud or in water several feet deep in marshes, lakes and streams. Soft-stem bulrush grows to 10 feet tall. Its stems grow close together, and are much thicker at the bases that at the tops. Stems are about 3/4 inch in diameter at the base, gradually tapering to the top. The stems are spongy. The bulrush does not have obvious leaves, only sheaths at the base of the stem. The inflorescence has several drooping stalks that have irregularly clustered spikelets.

Blue FlagBlue Flag

Blue flag is an emersed plant. These elegant natives are medium size plants, growing to 4 feet tall. They grow from stout underground rhizomes, and occur in a variety of wetlands. Blue flag's large flowers make it almost unmistakable. They are pale blue to purple flowers and are the only large irises growing wild in Florida. Their leaves are narrow and swordlike, and are up to 2 1/2 feet long. The leaves are pointed and flattened. They arise fan-like from a single base.

Submersed Plants


Fanwort is a rooted submersed plant. It may have submersed and floating leaves of different shapes. Fanwort generally grows in three to ten feet of water, and is found in ponds, lakes and quiet streams. Fanwort stems are long and much-branched. Fanwort has fan-like underwater leaves, which are about 2 inches across. The submersed leaves are frequently divided, and are arranged oppositely or in whorls along the stem. The floating leaves are small, diamond-shaped, and are infrequent. Fanwort flowers are white to pink to purplish and are about 1/2 inch across. The flowers are on stalks which arise from the tips of the stems.

Tape GrassTape Grass

Tape grass is a submersed plant that spreads by runners and sometimes forms tall underwater meadows. Tape grass is common in still and fast-flowing waters. Tape grass leaves arise in clusters from their roots. They are about 1 inch wide and can be several feet long. The leaves have rounded tips and definite raised veins. Single white female flowers grow to the water surface on very long stalks. Tape grass fruit is a banana-shaped capsule having many time seeds. Tape grass may be confused with strap-leaf sagittaria, Sagittaria kurziana. Compare the leaf tips and leaf veins.

Illinois PondweedIllinois Pondweed

Illinois pondweed is a common submersed plant. There are about 80 species of pondweeds in the world. Illinois pondweed grows equally well in swift-flowing rivers or quiet lake margins. Illinois pondweed has 2 primary leaf shapes: the floating leaves are more-or-less elliptic in shape; typically to 8 inches long. The leaves are on long leaf stems or "petioles". The submersed leaves are about the same size, but are more lance-shaped. Submersed leaves have pointed tips and pointed bases. Illinois pondweed's greenish flowers are on spikes that are 1 to 3 inches long.


Coontail is a submersed plant. It has no roots, and so is free-floating. It grows in sluggish waters. Because its feathery leaves are arranged in whorls on the stem, this plant resembles a raccoon's tail. The fan-shaped leaves are best observed in the water. They look feathery because each leaf is divided into many narrow segments. Each leaf is divided into many narrow segments. Each leaf has several small teeth on the midribs. These tiny teeth give the plant a rough feel when pulled through the hand. Coontail's flowers are very small and rarely seen. Coontail may be confused with fanwort, Cabomba caroliniana.