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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin

I. Shallow, Open Water Communities

Shallow, open water plant communities generally have water depths of less than 6.6 feet (2 meters). Submergent, floating and floating-leaved aquatic vegetation including pondweeds, water-lilies, water milfoil, coontail, and duckweeds characterize this wetland type. Size can vary from a one-quarter acre pond, to a long oxbow of a river or shallow bay of a lake. Floating vegetation may or may not be present depending upon the effects of the season, wind, availability of nutrients, and aquatic weed control efforts.

Shallow, open water communities differ from deep and shallow marshes in that they are seldom, if ever, drawn down. As a result, emergent aquatic vegetation cannot become established.

Shallow, open water communities provide important habitat for waterfowl, terns, furbearers, fish, frogs, turtles, and aquatic invertebrates. For example, the submergent plants and aquatic invertebrates provide food for waterfowl, which is especially important during migration. The permanent to semi-permanent water regime of these deep-water wetlands results in their being especially important for waterfowl production in drought years when other wetlands have become dry. Also provided is habitat for spawning beds and nursery areas for both game and nongame fish. Finally, these areas of open water provide a valuable aesthetic resource important to municipalities and landowners.

A shallow, open water community

VEGETATION: Three members of water-lily families -- white water-lily (Nymphaea odorata), yellow water-lily (Nuphar lutea) and water shield (Brasenia schreberi); several species of pondweeds, including large-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton amplifolius); water milfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum); coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum); and lesser duckweed (Lemna minor). A fringe of wild rice (Zizania aquatica) is also present.

SOILS: Lacustrine deposits and sediments.

HYDROLOGY: Permanently inundated.

LOCATION: Fish Lake, Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Anoka County, Minnesota.


Sago Pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus L.)
Floating-leaved Pondweed (Potamogeton natans L.)
Illinois Pondweed (Potamogeton illinoensis Morong)
Large-leaved Pondweed (Potamogeton amplifolius Tuckerman)
Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum verticillatum L.)
Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum L.)
Bladderwort (Utricularia macrorhiza Le Conte)
Elodea (Elodea canadensis Michaux)
Muskgrass (Charea vulgaris L.)
Wild Celery (Vallisneria americana Michaux)
Yellow Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus flabellaris Raf.)
White Water-lily (Nymphaea odorata Aiton)
Yellow Water-lily (Nuphar lutea (L.)Sm.)
Water Shield (Brasenia schreberi J. F. Gmelin)
Lotus (Nelumbo lutea (Willd.) Pers.)
The Duckweed Family
Lesser Duckweed (Lemna minor L.)
Star Duckweed (Lemna trisulca L.)
Big Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza (L.) Schleiden)
Watermeal (Wolffia columbiana Karsten)

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