Plants of Melbourne's Western Plains:
A Gardener's Guide to the Original Flora, 2nd Edition
Aquatic and Wetland Plants
Hover over the picture for plant information.
Plant names are linked to information in Vicflora.
An attractive plant (H 30cm, W 50cm) with large, heart-shaped leaves.
In late spring and summer the tall flowering stalk, bearing masses of pale pink or white flowers, makes a pretty display, although individual flowers only open in the afternoon.
Grows in moist, boggy soils, ponds or on edges of slow-moving creeks.
(synonym Machaerina articulata)
A tall, erect tussock (H 1—2m, W 1m+). Numerous cylindrical stems with brown, pendulous flowerheads. Will tolerate inundation to 1m. May form large clumps. Useful for planting beside pools. Locally rare with sporadic occurrences along the Maribyrnong River and tributaries.
(synonym Machaerina juncea
Rush-like in appearance with greyish stems (H 30cm—1m). Spreads by rhizomes, often forming drifts.
Grows on moist river banks and will tolerate inundation to 50cm. Locally rare. Highly ornamental. Ideal plant for bog gardens.
Marsh Club-Rush or
Rush-like plant (H 30—90cm, W 1m) for boggy or swampy positions. Lime-green, triangular stems and small, golden flowering spikes in spring and summer.
Spreads via underground stems, which can also be used for propagation.
Water birds are attracted to the dense upright stems, using them for cover and nesting material.
(synonym Brachyscome paludicola
A slender daisy (H 50cm) with erect stems. Narrow, light-green leaves and white daisy flowers in spring and summer.
Prefers a sunny situation in moist soils and is ideal for bog gardens, where it forms drifts and will flower prolifically. Suckers easily. Not suitable for permanently dry soils.
Once common in gilgals, drainage lines and swamp margins.
A pretty daisy (H 20cm, W spreading) with divided leaves and a spreading habit. White flowers in spring.
In its natural habitat occurs on poorly drained soils or depressions prone to waterlogging.
A good ground covering plant when mass planted.
A vigorous sedge (H 60cm, Spreading) with dark green stems, mostly in spring. Often forms large, dense swards in seasonally wet areas close to waterways. Common along Kororoit Creek but scarce elsewhere.
Does not set viable seed but can be divided.
Forms a dense tussock (H 1m, Spreading), with bright green foliage. The flower spikes dangle from long slender stems.
Prefers permanently wet soils in sun or semi-shade. Locally rare in the upper catchment area.
Grows in scattered clumps (H 30cm—80cm, W 1m), occasionally forming dense swards. Prefers moist soils in riparian zones. The blue-green foliage is taller than flower spikes.
Tolerates full sun or semi-shade. Does not set viable seed; propagate by division.
A grass-like sedge (H 10—40cm, W 40cm). Common along waterways and drainage lines in west.
Prefers moist soils but will tolerate extended dry periods.
A tall sedge (H 1—1.5m, W 1m) that forms a stiff, erect clump of cylindrical stems. Brown terminal flower spikes mostly in spring.
Prefers poorly drained, permanently wet soils but will tolerate extended dry periods. Important to creek edges and swamp margins in the west.
Prefers full sun or part shade.
Pale Swamp Everlasting
An attractive everlasting daisy (H 40cm, W patches to 1m) with pale-yellow, button-like flowerheads mostly from late spring to summer. Soft grey-green leaves.
It suckers freely, often forming (extensive carpets in drainage lines, gilgals and swamp margins.
Prefers an open, sunny position in moist, poorly drained soils.
Common Spike Rush
Numerous green, slender stems (H 70cm, Spreading) with small, brown terminal spikes in summer. Spreads by rhizomes, often forming dense swards. Prefers regularly inundated areas or shallow water.
Eleocharis atricha TUBER SPIKE-RUSH.
Eleocharis pallens PALE SPIKE-RUSH.
Eleocharis pusilla SMALL SPIKE-RUSH
Tall Spike Rush
Tall, robust, leafless, spike-like rush (H 2m above water, W 2m) that grows in still or slow-moving freshwater up to 2m deep. Flowerhead just a few centimetres long at the tip of the spike.
Common plant of slow waterways, lakes, dams or billabongs. Can spread vigorously. Best suited to large areas, or for providing dense habitat for waterbirds and frogs.
Tussock-forming, robust sedge (H 1m, W 1m) suitable for moist, inundated depressions or on lake or dam edges.
Long leaves with flower spike held above the leaves at the end of a long stem.
Food plant for a number of skipper butterflies.
A Koorie food plant.
A very showy, semi-aquatic perennial (H 1m, W 50cm). It has an erect habit and purple flower spikes in profusion in spring and summer.
Prefers a sunny position in moist or wet, and poorly drained soils. Dies back to rootstock in winter.
Suitable for pond edges or bog gardens.
A common, ornamental, semi-aquatic fern (H 5cm, W spreading) with silky, grey-green, clover-like leaves. A vigorous grower, spreading by rhizomes or spores.
Prefers boggy soils that are subject to seasonal waterlogging and will tolerate inundation to 30cm.
Suitable for bog gardens, edges or billabongs.
A vigorous, sprawling plant (H 20—80cm, W to 1m) with aromatic mint-fragrant leaves and clusters of small, white flowers in late spring and summer.
It has a suckering habit and prefers moist or wet soils in a sheltered position with sun or semi-shade. Suitable for pond edges or tubs.
Aborigines used it as a food plant to flavour foods, and as a cough remedy.
Slender Mint or Wild Mint
A small, suckering groundcover (H 10—30cm, W 50cm—1m) with aromatic foliage and numerous white flowers in spring and summer.
Prefers moist soils in sun or semi-shade. Tolerates inundation, and will form a dense mat. Not as vigorous as other mints.
It is suitable for planting beside ponds or along pathways. May also be used for culinary purposes.
(Synonym: Mimulus repens
A prostrate plant (H 10cm, W 50cm) with small, pink to violet flowers from spring to autumn.
A good water feature plant. It requires water around the root system and can tolerate inundation for periods of time.
It will not tolerate drought.
An ornamental aquatic plant (H 25—60cm, W spreading) with whorls of soft, fine leaves. Suitable for full sun and light shade. Accepts drying out once established. Flowers insignificant.
It is very common in waterways on the Basalt Plains. Prefers shallow, slow-moving water.
Myriophyllum simulans is a similar but less common species.
A large plant (H 40cm, W 1—1.5m) suitable for large ponds or water features, it has vigorous, spreading growth and long, green leaves, often with black or brown blotches.
In summer and autumn the stems are topped with attractive small pink flower spikes.
Grows in sun to full shade and can be partially inundated with water but vulnerable to drought conditions.
Tall reed (H 2—3m) with upright flowering stems to 3m tall and leaves to 0.8m long on the stems.
Very common plant of ephemeral waterways, lake edges, or depressions with poor drainage and regular inundation. Can spread vigorously, forming dense thickets. Probably best suited to the re-creation or revegetation of large ecosystems, or for providing dense habitat for waterbirds and frogs. Tolerates some salinity.
20 - A delightful plant (H 20—50cm, W 50—90cm) with silvery- green foliage and numerous large, yellow, ball-like flowerheads.
Prefers moist soils and tolerates periodic inundation. Full sun preferred. Best when mass planted.
It was once a common plant found along swamp margins but it is now extremely rare on the Western Plains.
Lovely herbaceous plant (H 40cm, W 20cm) with rich, green lobed leaves and masses of shiny, bright yellow flowers in spring.
It prefers soils that hold a bit of moisture although it withstands periods of dryness with occasional applications of water.
Best grown in a semi-shaded to full sun position. Suitable for growing in containers.
A creeping plant (H 15cm, W 40cm) that can form a lush mat that is metres wide. White flowers on upright stems sit above the mat, mostly in summer.
Occurs in moist, inundated depressions or on lake edges.
Excellent plant for a water feature or other feature that undergoes occasional inundation with water. Tolerates considerable salinity.
An attractive plant with long leaves that grow and float on top of water. The plant oxygenates the water, enabling fish to flourish. In spring and summer, green flower spikes with a raceme of white flowers emerge from the water.
Suitable for large water features.
Tall reed (H 1—2m) with large, bullrush-like flower spikes.
Occurs along ephemeral waterways, lake edges or depressions receiving regular inundation. Can spread vigorously and reduce the holding capacity of dams. This plant is regarded as a pest in irrigation channels but is an important and attractive plant in the right situation.
Similar species: Typha orientalis (Broad-leaf Cumbungi) has wider leaves and is taller.
Pretty everlasting daisy (H 30cm—1m) with one flower on a single upright stem. Showy bracts on the flowers are golden yellow above and golden-brown below.
Grows in swampy conditions. Mass planting produces a great effect, which is how it is seen in its natural habitat. Rare in the wild because of habitat depletion (lowland swamps on black, cracking clay).