List of Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants include more than just aesthetic value to bodies of water; they all play a vital role in creating a balanced ecosystem. Aquatic plants help keep the water cool and function as a food source for wildlife. Aquatic plants may typically be split into classes based on their specific feature: submersible, emergent and floating.

Submersible Plants

The plants which grow entirely under the water are known as submersible plants. Their leaves generally float through the water but might develop long leaf that goes to the surface. A few examples of submersible crops are Canadian waterweed (Elodea canadensis) and hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum) both growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 10. Canadian waterweed creates dropping lanced shaped foliage that acts as a cover for insect larvae, fish and other aquatic wildlife. Hornwort has feather-like leaf and also is often used as a aquarium plant for its oxygenating properties.

Emergent Plants

Emergent plants are rooted in the bottom of bodies of water but grow well over the water. Many of these aquatic plants grow in several inches of standing water with soggy soil such as the conditions located at the edge of ponds, lakes and streams. These aquatic plants help prevent erosion and stabilize banks while providing food and cover for aquatic wildlife, beneficial insects and amphibians. Cattails (Typha spp.) , rushes (Juncus spp.) and sedges (Carex spp.) Are a couple of plants that are emergent. Depending on the species, these grass-like aquatic plants grow in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 10.

Floating Acids

Floating aquatic plants have foliage that floats on the surface of the water. All these vital plants supply food, shelter and cover to amphibians, turtles and aquatic life. Among the most popular aquatic plants is waterlilles (Nymphaea spp.) , which grow in USDA zones 3 through 11. They create large lily pad foliage that floats on the water surface and magnificent flowers. Floating hearts (Nymphoides spp.) — located in USDA zones 5 through 11 — appear like a smaller version of the waterlily and create blooms which are not as impressive. Water shield (Brasenia schreberi) creates broad foliage which has a shield-like shape and delicate purple blooms sitting just above the water surface. This floating aquatic plant grows in USDA zones 6 through 9.

Undesirable Plants

Not all aquatic plants have been desired; a few species are thought to be unwanted due to their aggressive nature. Among the most popular undesirable aquatic plants is algae, which grows rapidly and produces the water appear dirty. Algae are really not a plant but also a plant-like organism which covers the surface of the water. Algae can grow in such abundance that it kills desirable aquatic plants and also threatens the life of aquatic wildlife such as fish. Duckweed (Lemna minor) has both positive and negative facets. This small free-floating aquatic plant acts as a food source for ducks but multiplies quickly and can protect the entire surface of slopes. It grows in USDA zones 4 through 10 and can be found in ponds, mud puddles and slow-moving streams.

See related