"Wetland" vegetation refers to plants adapted to soggy soil conditions. These plants vary in their tolerance to water levels and soil moisture with certain plants able to endure large fluctuations, while others have stricter limits. Shoreline plants grow in wet soil along shorelines. Some plants can grow submerged in water. Floaters and emergent plants are rooted in soil underwater most of the time.
Cattails are the plants most people expect to find when visiting a wetland. They have long leaves shaped as blades and stiff flower stalks. Mature seed heads of a cattail resemble a brown sausage. The common cattail and narrow-leafed cattail are the two varieties most often seen in the United States. Usually red-winged blackbirds are found perched in the grass end of a cattail. Cattails are used in making candles, weaving and as food for wetland residents. They're invasive and able to displace other wetland plants by secreting chemicals that hinder seed germination.
Pussy willows are ideal plants for wetlands and often found growing naturally along streams and ponds. They suck up water in surrounding soil which creates more usable land for children playing, according to Pennsylvania tree and shrub nursery Highland Hill Farm. These plants should be planted in areas that are the wettest as this frees up dry land for plants less tolerant of soggy soil.
In addition to living in a natural habitat, pussy willows are also suitable for a home landscape. The pussy willow has leaves that are lighter in color on their undersides than they are on their tops. It looks as if this plant is changing colors in the wind as its leaves are twisted, exposing the undersides. With its dark twigs and white flowers, it creates an attractive contrast during winter.
The yellow lotus is a beautiful wetland plant with large yellow flowers and umbrella-shaped leaves. The head of this flower is about 7 inches wide. The plant's seed pod is hard, resembling a enormous salt-shaker. This lotus flower blooms from June until September and when it's finished blooming, its leaves and petals fall off with only the "salt shaker" standing, according to Environmental Education for Kids. Hardy seeds found inside can continue to grow for centuries. Seeds of the yellow lotus are sometimes used in dried-flower arrangements.
Arrowheads are wetland plants so-named for their slender arrow-shaped leaves. Their leaves grow 1 to 5 feet high on stalks and point upward. These plants have delicate white flowers with only three petals surrounding a fuzzy yellow part of the male plant or a mound-like green center of a female plant. Arrowheads have a small tuber near their roots that resembles a potato and can be harvested and eaten.
Buttonbush, a member of the Quinine family, is small a deciduous bush that is often found growing beside swamps, streams, lakes and sinkholes. This wetland plant is known for its showy clusters of white flowers shaped like spherical pincushions. It has a fragrance that draws bees, butterflies and other insects, as well as serves as a good cover for nesting birds.