Emergent Plants

Emergent plants are rooted with stiff or firm stems and stand above the water surface, like cattails, but in some cases can be found submerged such as during a high-water event. Lily pads are also emergent plants.


Some Types of Emergent Plants

Alligator Weed

Alligator weed leaves are thick, fleshy, and smooth.  It lays along the ground and curves upward at or just below the surface of the ground forming thick mats.  It is non-native to Florida and should not be spread. It can be found in waste places in ponds, streams, and along some rivers.


Submersed or immersed long leaf stalks. There are 9 different species of arrowhead in North America.


There are 14 different species of bulrush in North America.  It is native to Florida.

Cow Lily (Spatterdock)

Native to Florida, spatterdock aka cow lily, is a large plant whose leaves often float but submersed and emersed leaves are common. They can be found in ponds, lakes, and sluggish streams. Leaves are heart-shaped and usually have wavy margins.  The floating leaves are attached to long stout stems.

Giant Cut Grass

Giant cut grass, native to Florida, has flat and wide leaves with a smooth surface and sharp edges. Flowers are large, up to 2 feet long. Stems are thick and up to 10 feet tall. Giant cut grass can be found along the banks of ponds, lakes and rivers.


Native to Florida, pickerelweed is very common and widely recognized. It typically grows 2-3 feet tall. Leaves are large, up to 5” wide, and are twice as long. Pickerelweed can be found in marshes, sluggish streams, and ditches in shallow water.

Salt (Spike) Grass

Salt grass, native to Florida, is a medium-tall salt grass found in brackish coastal marshes.

Spike Rush

Native to Floirda, there are about 2 dozen species here. They can be a floating tangled mat or dense clumps in the mud or as rooted green spikes emersed form a few feet of water and can cover many acres.

Spotted Water Hemlock

Spotted water hemlock, a native to Florida, is very toxic to man. The plant is large and highly branched, growing to 8 feet tall. It can be found in wet meadows, swamps, and shoreline thickets.


Water Lily

Native to Florida, the leaves are floating, oval shaped, and fleshy. Water lily can be found in ponds, lakes, slow streams and ditches.

Water Pennywort

Water pennywort is native to Florida. They have long, creeping stems that form dense mats. The leaves are circular, shiny, and leathery. Leaf stalks attach to center of the leaf and look like little umbrellas. Water pennywort can be found in and near ponds, lakes, rivers, and marshes.

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