Types of Plants

A wide variety of aquatic plants have been used in wetland systems designed for wastewater treatment. The larger trees (e.g., cypress, ash, willow) often preexist on natural bogs, strands, and "domes" used for wastewater treatment in Florida and elsewhere. No attempt has been made to use these species in a constructed wetland nor has their function as a treatment component in the system been defined. The emergent aquatic macrophytes are the most commonly found species in the marsh type of constructed wetlands used for wastewater treatment. The most frequently used are cattails (Typha), reeds (Phragmites communis), rushes (Juncus spp.), bulrushes (Scirpus), and sedges (Carex). Bulrush and cattails, or a combination of the two, are the dominant species on most of the constructed wetlands in the United States. A few systems in the United States have Phragmites, but this species is the dominant type selected for constructed wetlands in Europe. Systems that are specifically designed for habitat values in addition to treatment usually select a greater variety of plants with an emphasis on food and nesting values for birds and other aquatic life. Information on some typical plant species common in the United States and a discussion of advantages and disadvantages for their use in a constructed wetland are provided in the following text. Further details on the characteristics of these plants can be found in a number of references (Hammer, 1992; Lawson, 1985; Mitsch and Gosselink, 2000; Thornhurst, 1993).

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