Wading through Water Plants in Virginia

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Water plants are a diverse group of species that can be found in a number of unrelated families. We’re focusing on aquatic flowering plants in this expedition, although they can be found in other groups. Even ferns have aquatic members, like the nitrogen-fixing mosquito fern (Azolla).

Some aquatic plants can be large, showy, and easy to identify. Big, bright water lilies (Nymphaceae) are certainly hard to miss! Many of these water plants have converged on a similar morphology for ecological and evolutionary success. These plants frequently have very narrow (cattails; Typhaceae) or finely dissected leaves (water-nymphs; Najas) for life in the water.

These plants can often be quite common but they often pass under our radar. Sometimes we can’t access them out in a lake or in a mucky pond. And sometimes we might just pass them by without even noticing the smaller, less conspicuous species.

We would love to fully digitize our aquatic plants and make their collecting data available to students, researchers, artists, and others world-wide. So please help us with this expedition! You will get a chance to hone your ID skills for these diverse plants found across Virginia, U.S.A. Thank you!

— Jordan Metzgar, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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