Freshwater Plants

Blue flag Iris
Blue flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

NPS Photo

Freshwater plant species are rare within Shenandoah National Park. Most parkland is located near the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains amid steep rocky terrain, providing few opportunities for wetland formation. The several wetlands that occur are small and found in the flatter areas such as Bearwallow, Big Meadows, and Pond Ridge.

Freshwater plants are highly adapted to living in water. They have few roots, less water conducting tissue, and have a weak structure because they grow in such a way that water provides them some mechanical support. The wetlands of Shenandoah tend to contain pools of standing water during the winter and spring, but become dry in the summer and fall.

Seasonal pool in Big Meadows Swamp.
Seasonal pool in Big Meadows Swamp.

NPS Photo

Freshwater plants in Shenandoah are limited to species that can tolerate seasonal drying. Some common species include numerous grasses, sedges, and rushes, and more showy species such as cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis), marsh willow herb (Epilobium palustre), and blue flag iris (Iris versicolor).

Related Information

One website that provides photographs and helpful biological information about fresh water plants is the following:

National List of Plants that Occur in Wetlands

Listing of this website does not and is not intended to imply endorsement by the National Park Service of commercial services or products associated with the site.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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Shenandoah National Park
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Luray, VA 22835


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