Wetlands: Plants

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11291

How do plants survive in, and even under, water? Don't try flooding your mom's garden to find out! Slog (via video) through wetlands to study, and write about, trees and other plants of the wetlands!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


How do you think plants are able to survive in wetlands?

wetland grass

In the first Related Lesson, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about the four major types of wetlands: marshes, swamps, bogs, and fens.

Some of these types have similarities and some have differences. In this lesson, you will learn about the plants found in each type of wetland and how they survive there.

Marshes are home to many different types of plants. The three different types of marshes share some similar plants, but each type has plants that can only be found there. Inland/Non-tidal marshes (freshwater, near lakes and ponds) have rich soil that contains sand and clay. Lily pads, sedges, reeds, grasses, bulrushes, and cattails can be found here. Tidal freshwater marshes (found inland from the coastline) are home to sedges, tidal-marsh amaranth, grasses, wild rice, water chestnuts, and papyrus. Tidal saltwater marshes (found on the coastline) have plants like smooth cordgrass, sawgrass, pickleweed, and spike grass living there in the salty waters.

Swamps are different from marshes. If you were to visit a swamp, you would see lots of trees (also known as woody plants). Freshwater swamps (found around lakes and streams) have several different types of plants growing in the them. Spanish moss, ferns, tupelo trees, lilies, duckweed, cypress trees, and shrubs can be found growing here. Saltwater swamps (found on tropical coastlines) have mangrove trees. Mangrove trees grow very well in saltwater. Red mangrove trees, white mangrove trees, and black mangrove trees are found in saltwater swamps.

There are many different types of bogs on earth. Many of the different bogs share similar plants. Most bogs have peat. Peat is partially-decayed plant matter that covers the surface of water. Bogs form when plant debris covers lakes. The plants here fully cover the water's surface. Sphagnum moss, heather, fungus, and shrubs can be found growing in bogs.

Fens are another type of wetland. This type of wetland has flowing water and does not get its water from rain. Grasses, wildflowers, sedges, and rushes are found here. Peat can also be found in fens. If the peat grows and covers the surface of the water, the fen will turn into a bog.

Wetland plants have many special characteristics that allow them to survive in freshwater and saltwater. Did you know wetland plants have pores in their roots and stems? These pores allow oxygen to enter the plant, then this oxygen is transported to their roots. This allows plants to get the air they need, even if they are in water! Some of the trees found in swamps have their roots above ground so they can get oxygen. Halophytes are plants that can live in saltwater. Plants are able to survive in saltwater by having thick leaves that collect salt and fall off, succulent leaves that store water then dilute the salt, or waxy leaves that block out the salt. Plants found in wetlands are truly amazing! They are able to survive in the most interesting conditions.

You learned about the different plants found in wetlands.

  • What makes swamp plants different from marsh plants?

Tell a parent or teacher.

  • Did you say swamps have woody plants like trees and marshes do not? Fantastic!

Move on to the Got It? section to answer a few questions about the Wetlands.

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