Identification of Emergent Plants
The Emergent group of plants are most of your shoreline plants and
basically any plant that grows distinctly above the water line.
Cattails, Iris and Golden Canas are some well know plants that fit into
the Emergent plant category. Because these plants are always exposed
they are vulnerable to topical treatments and therefore most are easily
Though easily treated some of this vegetation may bring more benefits
than disadvantages. Thick stands of Emergent plants provide a natural
buffer for erosion control, habitat for fish, reptiles and other pond
dwellers. Some even produce attractive blooms and flowers throughout
parts of the year. Nutrient absorption and run-off filtration is another
added benefit of desirable shoreline vegetation.
Yellow Iris (pictured left) is a desirable emergent plant. In many
cases such plants are brought in and planted to add structure,
protection and aesthetics to man-made ponds. Spillways, areas of
high water movement and critical embankments and shorelines prone to
erosion are prime candidates for shoreline plantings.
Common Emergent Plants
Cattails are probably the most well know and wide spread of all the
emergent plants. Aside from cattails the rushes, Water primrose and
Alligator weed are some of the more common shoreline plants to be
concerned with. There are hundreds of species of rushes and sedges that
are closely related but most of these are controlled with the same
techniques so they are clumped into the rushes heading for the time
Rushes are erect cylindrical plants that often have tassel like seeds at
or near the top. Spike rush and Bullrushes are the most common.
Water Primrose commonly covers shorelines and will even send shoots or
runners out into the water. The leaves are small green and almost always
alternate with very visable veins. Flowers are Yellow and abunant when
Aligator Weed is a Non-Native Invasive species. Commonly found along
shorelines and even forming floating stands in larger water bodies. The
leaves of Aligator Weed are small lush green and in an opposite pattern,
more fleshy than that of Primrose and have a lack of noticable veins.
The flowers are small white and resemble that of white clover flowers.
Alligator weed is often confused with Primrose, there are certain
similarities between the two but the main differences are the leaf
pattern and flowers.
Control of emergent plants
Treatment options are similar to that of Submerged plants. You again
have Contact Herbicides, Systemic Herbicides and Mechanical and
Biological Control. Systemic Herbicides are again going to be the most
economical choice for long term control. Contact products offer quick
results but are often short lived, especially with rhizomatic plants.
Many emergent plants thrive and spread by Rhizomes, this is basically an
extreme set of roots capable of producing new shoots. Fast acting
herbicides often kill the extremeties of the plant before they have a
change to transfer the product down to the root system. This basically
kills the tops of the plants but leaves the roots and rhizomes to
produce new vegetation in its place.
Mechanical control is more practical with shoreline grasses as in many
ponds these areas can simply be cut or mowed. Due to the locaiton of these
plants there are very limited choices for Biological control.
Aquatic Plants Factsheets