Wild Wetlands: Plants

There is a vast range of different plant species that each prefers a different location in the river profile. Some prefer to be in the damp adjoining meadows, others like to have their roots just dipping in to the water while others like to be fully submerged at the bottom of the river, with a whole range in between.

Marsh and bank side plants: meadowsweet, salad burnet, ragged robin, meadow buttercup, hemp agrimony, marsh marigold, marsh woundwort, bugle, fritillary, horsetail.

Marginal plants (cope with water up to 15cm deep): yellow iris, water mint, water plantain, purple loosestrife, brooklime, water forget-me-not, lesser spearwort, bur-reed, marsh marigold.

Emergent plants (with erect leaves and stems that grow up out of the water): bog bean, greater spearwort, flowering rush, bogbean, burr reed, lesser reedmace.

Floating-leaved and bottom-rooted plants (where the plant has leaves or fronds that float on the surface of the water): white waterlily, yellow waterlily, fringed waterlily, broad-leaved pondweed, amphibious bistort, water crowfoot.

Submerged aquatic plants (where the plant has its leaves under the surface of the water), e.g.: spiked water milfoil, curly pondweed, hornwort, water starwort, mare’s-tail.

 

Trees

Well-established trees can stabilise and protect fragile earth riverbanks with their extensive root systems and also provide ideal habitat for many invertebrates, birds and mammals that in turn will attract other wildlife to feed on them.

Typical riverside trees you would expect to find include alder, willow and sallow, which are able to grow in the wetter conditions that other trees would find hostile. You may see the dead trunks of riverside alders still standing that have suffered from the Phtyophora disease. Their slowly rotting hulks will attract Greater Spotted Woodpeckers to feed on the invertebrates within and several bat species will find a good home in the cracks and holes developing.

Willow trees are often pollarded to prolong their life. The trunk is cut at a height of about 1.5 m above ground, from which grows vigorous new shoots. Cutting it at this height prevents livestock from damaging the new shoots. The new shoots can be harvested and used for making traditional country products such as cricket bats, woven baskets and hurdles.

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