Aquatic Plant Identification

The purpose of this section is to help you identify aquatic plants that may be growing in your lake or pond. There are four broad general categories: submersed, floating, emergent, and algae, with the general definition at the top of each category. Keep in mind that not all aquatic plants are bad. Yes, some such as hydrilla, fall into the noxious weed category. In fact, hydrilla is a nonnative or “exotic” weed species considered quite undesirable. Other plants shown here may be native plants and are only considered undesirable when they are growing out of control or in places they are not wanted. Examples could be cattails, coontail, and waterlilies.

In fact, many native species are considered desirable, especially since they can provide many benefits, such as wildlife shelter, food, organism cover, absorption of undesirable nutrients, soil stabilization, and aesthetics. Some native aquatic plants may even be protected, so we suggest that you contact us at The Lake Doctors, Inc. before attempting to control or remove any aquatic plants. We will identify the “good guys” and “bad guys” and make recommendations that help you with any plant problems while protecting the aquatic environment of your lake or pond.

Submersed Plants

These plants are completely underwater and are generally rooted in the bottom sediment. If flowers exist, they may extend above the surface of the water. This group includes many introduced or exotic species that grow prolifically and are considered to be problematic. These include the following:

Floating Plants

These plants either float freely on the surface, deriving their nutrients directly from the water, or have leaves that float on the surface and are rooted in the bottom sediment. Examples include the following:

Emergent Plants

These plants have most or all of their vegetative and flowering parts above the surface of the water or on the shoreline. They grow in shallow areas and banks of lakes, ponds, rivers, and ditches. This group is also referred to as shoreline and wetland plants. Generally rigid, these plants do not need water for support. Many are not considered truly aquatic, but they can survive submerged in water or in saturated soils for extended periods of time. Plants in this category include the following:


The algae are single-celled or multi-celled plants that lack true supporting or conducting tissues. Many species are commonly called pond scum, moss, or slime. The algae are separated into several groups: planktonic algae is composed of single cells or small colonies and are usually free-floating or suspended in the water column, giving a green, brown, or even red color to the water. Filamentous algae are multicellular algae whose cells are attached end-to-end to form long threads. Macrophytic algae, such as chara and nitella, are larger, multi-branched algae mimicking underwater weeds. Some of our algae include the following:

Contact us for more information on our aquatic plant identification. We serve clients in Florida, Ohio, and South Carolina.