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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Sunday - September 21, 2008

From: Oregon, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Plants for wetlands in Illinois
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a home that is just above a wetlands in Northern Illinois. It is on a river and the wetlands go from bone dry to under 3 feet of water. The shoreline is beginning to erode where there are no trees. THe shore is covered in shade by tall silver maples. Are there native plants that could help stop the erosion and thrive in these kind of conditions?


You can find a list of native plants for Illinois that will grow in shady wet areas by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and selecting the state from the "Select State or Province" option and then selecting 'Part shade...' and 'Shade...' from the "Light Requirement" option and 'Wet...' from the "Soil Moisture" option.  From that list Mr. Smarty Plants recommends the following plants for your area.  Most of them will survive a period of submergence and then drier conditions.  Some of them may need some watering during dry spells. 

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Acorus calamus (calamus)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail)

Justicia americana (American water-willow)

Iris brevicaulis (zigzag iris)

Iris versicolor (harlequin blueflag)

Juncus effusus var. solutus (lamp rush) and more information and photos from Illinois Wildflowers.

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)

Saururus cernuus (lizard's tail)

You might also like to visit the Illinois Wildflowers webpage to read more about the species above.

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Acorus calamus

Calamagrostis canadensis

Equisetum arvense

Equisetum hyemale

Justicia americana

Iris brevicaulis

Iris versicolor

Osmunda cinnamomea

Pontederia cordata

Saururus cernuus



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