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Emergent plants for constructed wetlands

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Table of common emergent plants for constructed wetlands in greywater and wastewater treatment systems. [1]

Common Name Scientific Name Max Water Depth[2] (Inches) Notes
Arrow arum Peltandra virginicaW 12 Full sun to partial shade. High wildlife value. Foliage and rootstocks are not eaten by geese or muskrats. Slow grower. pH: 5.0-6.5.
Arrowhead/duck potato Sagittaria latifoliaW 12 Aggressive colonizer. Mallards and muskrats can rapidly consume tubers. Loses much water through transpiration.
Common three-square bulrush Scirpus pungensW 6 Fast colonizer. Can tolerate periods of dryness. High metal removal. High waterfowl and songbird value.
Softstem bulrush Scirpus validusW 12 Aggressive colonizer. Full sun. High pollutant removal. Provides food and cover for many species. of birds. pH: 6.5-8.5.
Blue flag iris Iris versicolorW 6 Attractive flowers. Can tolerate partial shade but requires full sun to flower. Prefers acidic soil. Tolerant of high nutrient levels. Maximum water depth varies from 3 to 6 inches.
Broad-leaved cattail[3] Typha latifoliaW 18 Aggressive. Tubers eaten by muskrat and beaver. High pollutant treatment, pH: 3.0-8.5. Maximum water depth varies from 12 to 18 inches.
Narrow-leaved cattail[3] Typha angustifoliaW 12 Aggressive. Tubers eaten by muskrat and beaver. Tolerates brackish water. pH : 3.7-8.5.
Reed canary grass Phalaris arundinoceaW 6 Grows on exposed areas and in shallow water. Good ground cover for berms.
Lizard's tail Saururus cernuusW 6 Rapid grower. Shade tolerant. Low wildlife value except for wood ducks.
Pickerelweed Pontedaria cordataW 12 Full sun to partial shade. Moderate wildlife value. Nectar for butterflies. pH: 6.0-8.0.
Common reed[3] Phragmites australisW 3 Highly invasive; considered a pest species in many states. Poor wildlife value. pH: 3.7-8.0.
Soft rush Juncus effususW 3 Tolerates wet or dry conditions. Food for birds. Often grows in tussocks or hummocks.
Spikerush Eleocharis palustrisW 3 Tolerates partial shade.
Sedges Carex spp.W 3 Many wetland and several upland species. High wildlife value for waterfowl and songbirds.
Spatterdock Nuphar luteumW 60 Tolerant of fluctuating water levels. Moderate food value for wildlife, high cover value. Tolerates acidic water (to pH 5.0). Maximum water depth is 60 inches, but must be in at least 24 inches.
Sweet flag Acorus calamusW 3 Produces distinctive flowers. Not a rapid colonizer. Tolerates acidic conditions. Tolerant of dry periods and partial shade. Low wildlife value.
Wild rice Zizania aquaticaW 12 Requires full sun. High wildlife value (seeds, plant parts, and rootstocks are food for birds). Eaten by muskrats. Annual, nonpersistent. Does not reproduce vegetatively.

Notes[edit]

  1. Table 1. Emergent plants for constructed wetlands (adapted from Schueler 1992 and Thunhorst 1993) from EPA Constructed Wetland Handbook Table 1
  2. These depths can be tolerated, but plant growth and survival may decline under permanent inundation at these depths.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Not recommended for stormwater wetlands because they are highly invasive, but can be used in treatment wetlands if approved by regulatory agencies.