What are aquatic plants?

The aquatic plants are those that, unlike the terrestrial, are adapted to the media with high humidity. There are some that even live in water, such as in lakes or rivers. They are very interesting to have in a garden pond, as it gives them a new, very elegant appearance.

These are plants that we often see in nurseries and homes, as they are very easy to care for and maintain . Let’s see what aquatic plants are.

What is the definition of aquatic plants?

The mangrove is an aquatic tree

Our protagonists, also known as hydrophytes or hygrophytes, are plants that are adapted to live in humid or aquatic environments . They can be algae, or vascular plants, pteridophytes and angiosperms (the latter with showy flowers). Normally they are strongly rooted in the silt that is found at the bottom of the waters, but there are others that remain floating on the surface.

They generally  live in freshwater environments , such as lakes, rivers or ponds, but we can also find them in saltwater environments , where mangroves grow, which are trees whose roots resist the high concentration of salts in the nearby intertidal zone. at the mouth of fresh water courses in tropical regions.

How are they classified?

Depending on where they are found, three classes of aquatic plants are distinguished:

  • Floating plants : are those that, as their name suggests, float on the surface. Its roots may or may not anchor to the bottom. Examples: Salvinia natans, Nymphaea or Phyllantus fluitans .
  • Submerged plants : are those that live under water, either anchoring to the bottom or not. Examples: Cabomba australis (aquatic nettle), Egeria densa or Vallisneria spiralis .
  • Emerging plants : these are the ones that take root at the bottom, keeping leaves, flowers and stems in the open air. Examples: Cyperus papyrus (papyrus), Juncus (rush), or Oryza sativa (rice).

Types of aquatic plants

There are many types of aquatic plants . In fact, there are so many that it would be impossible to discuss all of them in one article. So what we will do is talk to you about the ones that are most important, whether in a garden, in a pond and / or in the kitchen.


The aldrovanda is an aquatic plant

Image – Wikimedia / Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz

The Aldrovanda is a floating aquatic carnivore, with stems up to 20 centimeters long from which leaves sprout so fine that they look like “hairs” . It is perennial, and has tiny little traps that trap very small insects, such as mosquito larvae, so it is highly recommended to grow it in areas where these animals proliferate, as is the case in the Mediterranean region. Of course, keep it in distilled water and protect it from frost.

Rice ( Oryza sativa )

Rice is an emerging aquatic plant

Image – Wikimedia / Krzysztof Golik

The rice is an aquatic plant emerging from the grass family. It lives for several months, and in that time it develops stems that are five feet tall, as well as clustered flowers which sprout from one stem. The seeds is the rice itself, and as you know it is the main ingredient in many, many recipes : paella, Cuban rice, three delights rice, and so on.

Junco (Juncus)

The reed is a fast growing aquatic

Image – Flickr / Amadej Trnkoczy

The rush is a herbaceous perennial that reaches a maximum of 90 centimeters in height. It develops elongated, more or less straight and green leaves, and blooms producing brown compound flowers . It may not be very interesting as an ornamental plant, but it is widely used to make baskets for example. In addition, it tolerates the soil and the sea wind very well, making it an option to grow in gardens near the sea. Resists up to -7ºC.

Lentibularia ( Utricularia vulgaris )

Image – Flickr / Len WorthingtonImage – Flickr / Kirill Ignatyev

The lentibularia is a floating or submerged aquatic that has stems of about 1 meter long, with bilobed leaves that sprout from its base and that have tiny sacs called utricles that trap their prey . A flower stalk emerges from its center, at the end of which yellow flowers sprout. In cultivation it has to be put in a pond with rain or distilled water. Resists up to -10ºC.

Lotus ( Nelumbo nucifera )

The Nelumbo nucifera is a floating aquatic

Image – Wikimedia / TANAKA Juuyoh (田中 十 洋)

The lotus or Nile rose is a floating aquatic whose leaves can measure up to 1 meter in diameter, and flowers between 15 and 25 centimeters in diameter . These are pink or white, and give off a very pleasant aroma. It is a perfect plant for large freshwater ponds, as it also withstands moderate frosts.

Water lily (Nymphaea)

Nymphaea is an ideal aquatic plant for ponds

The water lily is a very popular floating plant for beautifying ponds. Its roots are held at the bottom, hence when they are cultivated it is advisable to plant them in special pots for aquatic plants, and then bury these in the ground. The leaves are round and can be about 30 centimeters in diameter, and its flowers are approximately 10 centimeters wide and pink in color . It lives in fresh water, and unfortunately it cannot stand freezing temperatures.

Papyrus ( Cyperus papyrus )

Papyrus is an emergent aquatic

Image – Flickr / barloventomagico

The papyrus is an emergent aquatic plant. It lives on the banks of rivers, keeping its roots submerged and stems and leaves outside. These stems can be up to 5 meters long , and linear green leaves sprout from their ends. In Ancient Egypt it was highly appreciated, since the famous “paper” (papyrus) was made with it; today it is used more as an ornamental plant. Withstands mild frosts down to -2ºC.

As you can see, aquatic plants are unique plants. Do you have some in your garden?

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