• Wetland plants have special adaptations that allow them to survive in saturated or inundated soils. These adaptations allow them to overcome oxygen shortages in the soil.

    Hollow Shoots

    Some wetland plants, such as cattails, have hollowed shoots called aerenchyma, which allow for easier oxygen transport through the plant.


    The seeds of many wetland plants remain viable when submerged underwater. By doing this, a seed can detect when the water level drops low enough to facilitate germination and initial growth before the water level rises again.

    Salt Stress

    In coastal marshes, plants are exposed to ocean salt, which can disrupt the osmotic balance and stress plants. Some plants excrete salt from their leaves; these are the salt crystals visible on the leaves of salt marsh plants.

    Root Mats

    Is marsh systems, particularly coastal marshes, the soil is not very stable and is susceptible to erosion. Many plants can form extensive root mats that increase the soil stability, which in turn makes the habitat more suitable for plant growth.


    Cypress tress survive in wetlands by developing "knees," which are portions of their root systems that extend above the soil surface. This facilitates gas exchange directly from the atmosphere.


    Riparian/Wetland Project Information Series; Wetland Plants: Their Function, Adaptation and Relationship to Water Levels; J. Chris Hoag, Norman Melvin and Derek Tilley; May 2007

    Army Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual

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