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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects

Natives for Water Gardens and Ponds

Alisma plantago-aquatica
Broadleaf Water-Plantain
A terminal cluster of small white flowers sits above a tall leafless stem. It grows in marshy or semi-aquatic environments.
Leaves are basal and growing near the ground on flattened leaf stalks. Shape: oval; size: 10-30 cm (4-12 in) long, 3-15 cm (1-6 in) across; color: dark green. Whorls of small white (rarely pink) flowers are arranged in an open, branched, terminal cluster that sticks up well beyond the leaves. Flowers only open in the afternoon and evening. Flower size: 5 mm long.
Caltha biflora
Marsh Marigold
Perennial herb with large white flowers held above broadly rounded leaves; grows in wet subalpine meadows.
The kidney-shaped leaves have bluntly toothed margins and a prominent palmate vein structure. Leaves are almost as broad as they are long. Size: 4-10 cm (1.5-4 in) long by5-12 cm (2-4.75 in) across. 1-2 flowers emerging from a stem with one leaf. Flowers lack true petals but have 5-7 bright white sepals and many stamens. Fize: 1.5-4 cm (.6-1.5 in) across.
Caltha palustris
yellow marsh marigold
Large yellow flowers top this creeping, perennial, semi-aquatic herb.
Mostly basal. Leaves are kidney-shaped, somewhat fleshy, glabrous; margins are regularly blunt toothed. Size: 4-10 cm (1.5-4 in) long. Usually two flowers per stem; each flower has 5-12 yellow sepals and numerous stamens. Flower size: 1.5-4 cm (0.6-2 in) wide.
Carex obnupta
Slough Sedge
Large grass-like plant creating thick patches in coastal wetlands.
Leaves are coarse, firm and shorter than stems. Shape: flat to channelled, with margins rolled under; size: 3-10 mm wide; color: green. Spikes elongate. Upper 1-3 spikes are male, often drooping; lower 2-4 spikes are female or with male flowers at top, cylindrical, drooping, stalkless or on short erect stalks.
Equisetum telmatiea
Giant Horsetail
More robust and larger than common horsetail. Sheaths around its sterile stems have 14-18 teeth.
Good for stabilizing or restoring disturbed or degraded (including logged or burned) areas, for erosion and slope control, for wildlife food or cover, etc. May be less suitable for garden use. Reduced to tiny scales that are fused into 20-30 sheaths at stem nodes. Dense whorls of branches (often mistaken for leaves) form at stem nodes; shape: sterile stems branched, hollow; size: sheaths to 2.5 cm (1 in) long; color: green. Horsetails reproduce by spores, and do not have flowers; green spores are produced in flesh-colored cone at tip of fertile stem.
Glyceria grandis
Reed Mannagrass
very similar to G. elata
flat, bright green when young, 6-18 mm broad, 2 ranked, with brown patch at leaf node; shape: lance; size: 6-18 mm wide; color: bright green. inflorescence is 20-40 cm long, loose, open, with numerous spreading branches, stames occasionally number 2 but usually 3; lemmas has obvious veins, spikelets 4-7 flowered; primary color: purplish; size: lemmas 2-3 mm long.
Juncus ensifolius
Daggerleaf Rush
Leaves are laterally flattened like iris leaves, 2-6 mm wide, 3-4 per stem. Terminal inflorescences with 1-10 ball-like flower clusters, each with several to many flowers; lowermost bract 1-10 cm long, flower scales greenish-brown to brown-purple; 3-6 stamens; size: 3-4 mm long.
Kalmia microphylla ssp. occidentalis
Bog Laurel
Small, slender-branched shrub with dark green waxy leaves and clusters of bright pink flowers.
Opposite arrangement; margins rolled underneath; dark-green, leathery above, conspicuously whitish and fine-hairy beneath; shape: narrowly lance-shaped; size: 4 cm (1.5 in) long. Several in loose, terminal clusters; 10 stamens, the tip of each tucked into a small pouch in a petal, and held under tension like a bow; the stamens pop out when stimulated by touch; primary color: pink to rose; size: 2 cm (.8 in) across; shape: saucer-shaped.
Lysichiton americanum
Skunk Cabbage
A wetland plant with very large waxy erect leaves and yellow flower spikes enclosed in a large yellow sheath.
Leaves emerge early from large basal rosette, leaves are thin, net-veined; shape: lance to broadly elliptic shape; size: up to 1.5 meters (5 ft) long, to 50 cm (1.5 feet) wide; color: dark green. Numerous small flowers on thick axis (spadix) that is hooded by a large bright yellow bract/sheath, gives off skunk-like odor when flowering, flowers before the leaves appear; primary color: greenish-yellow; size: 6-8 cm (2.5-3 in) thick, 30 cm (12 in) long.
Mentha arvensis
Field Mint
A wild mint with small groups of light purple flowers in the leaf axils.
Menyanthes trifoliata
White, curly-haired flowers and large trifoliate leaves decorate this patch-forming plant found in shallow water.
Mimulus guttatus
Yellow Monkey-flower
Large yellow tubular flowers top this deciduous-leaved wetland perennial.
Good in seeps. Spreads readily.
Nuphar luteum ssp. polysepalum
Yellow Pond-Lily
An aquatic water lily with large, round, floating leaves and fleshy, yellow flowers held at the water surface.
Potentilla palustris
Marsh Cinquefoil
Perennial from long, creeping, often floating, somewhat woody rhizomes, with small maroon flowers.
Alternate, mainly on flowering stems; lower leaves pinnately divided into 5-7 leaflets that are oblong, coarsely toothed, pale-green above, glaucous to finely hairy below; upper leaves smaller. Strikingly reddish-purple, bowl-shaped, about 2 cm across; sepals and petals 5; stamens and ovaries numerous; few to several in loose terminal clusters.
Sagittaria latifolia
Wapato, Arrowhead
Tall semi-aquatic perennial of marshes or lake margins, with large arrowhead shaped leaves and small white flowers.
All basal; long angled stalks; submerged leaves are lance shaped or linear; emergent leaves are arrowhead shaped; size: to 25 cm long and 20 cm wide; color: green. Sexes often on different flowers, 3 white petals 1-2 cm long and 3 greenish sepals, numerous ovaries and stamens, flowers in 2-8 whorls.
Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
Softstem Bulrush
Sisyrinchium californicum
Golden-eyed Grass
A small iris-like plant with yellow flowers.
Mostly basal, long and narrow; 30 cm long, 5 mm wide; green. Short stalked, petals yellow with purplish-brown veins, 1.2 cm long; 2-7 flowers in a terminal cluster above 2 sheathing, leaf-like bracts, turns purplish-black when pressed and dried, flowers in the morning and close by mid-day; size: 3 cm; shape: circular with 6 symmetrical tepals.
Typha latifolia
Broad-leaved Cattail
A tall wetland plant with long, erect sword-like leaves and dense brown flower spikes.

The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.