Emergent plants grow with their roots and lower stems in the water, but most of the plant is above the water’s surface. Cattails are a familiar example. The category also includes irises, pickerelweed, water lilies, and bulrushes.
Cattails.(pictured right) Cattails are tall, erect perennials that grow in shallow water. Their long narrow leaves have characteristic twists that make identification easy from a distance. Also, a brown lower head, the “cattail” is usually present.
Iris. (pictured left) Irises are perennials that resemble cattails because they have long leaves and grow near the edge of the pond. Unlike cattails, they usually grow in the soil at the edge of the water instead of in the water. Instead of being flat, their leaves have a shallow “V” shape. Irises also produce beautiful purple or yellow flowers, depending on the species.
Bulrush. (pictured right) Bulrushes are annuals that grow in shallow water. They have round stems that are dark green and reach three to five feet in height. A flower head is often found several inches from the top of the plant.
Spatterdock. (pictured left) Spatterdock is a perennial that grows in water ranging from several inches to several feet deep. It has erect, relatively heartshaped leaves that stand above the surface of the water on thick, stiff stems. These leaves have veins that are perpendicular to a stiff mid-rib. Spatterdock is often called yellow pond lily due to the yellow flowers it produces in the summer. Spatterdock has large, thick roots that can be up to several inches in diameter. New shoots grow up from these roots in the spring.
Pickerelweed. Pickerelweed is a perennial that grows in shallow water around the edges of the pond. Its heart-shaped leaves stand erect above the surface of the water on thick stiff stems like spatterdock. However, unlike spatterdock, pickerelweed leaves have veins that parallel the leaf edge instead of branching off of a rib. Pickerelweed produces beautiful blue flowers in the summer and new shoots grow up from thick roots.
Learn about aquatic vegetation control methods.