Search Indigenous Plant Attributes

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  1. Salix mucronata woodii

    Salix mucronata woodii is a very hardy, deciduous, small willow with graceful, drooping branches that grows along riverbanks and in wet areas.

    The lovely bi-coloured leaves look beautiful when the soft sinuous branches move in the slightest breeze and the leaves flutter.

  2. Aristea ecklonii

    Aristea ecklonii is hardy, evergreen, clump-forming, perennial bulbous plant with narrow, strap-like, slightly pleated leaves that are carried in a fan.

    It bears flowering stems of amazing pale to deep mauve-blue flowers from August to March. There is a white flowered form grown at Random Harvest nursery (see gallery of pictures).

    It requires morning sun as the flowers open in succession early in the day and close in the afternoon. 

    It grows best in moist conditions near ponds or well-watered areas.

  3. Zantedeschia aethiopica

    Zantedeschia aethiopica is a very hardy, evergreen, clump-forming perennial with big, heart-shaped leaves.

    The Arum Lily inflorescence has one distinctive large, white, cone-shaped petal and a central column which carries the tiny flowers and the yellow pollen.

  4. Aloe cooperi

    Aloe cooperi is a very hardy, stemless Aloe with long, narrow, yellow-green leaves arranged in a fan shape and distinctively keeled with white spots beneath.

    It has spikes of apricot or yellow coloured, tubular flowers from December to March.

    The flowers attract nectar feeding birds such as Sunbirds and White Eyes.

    It grows solitary or in small groups and thrives in a variety of soil types and unusually for an Aloe, grows in marshy places.

    It is also very frost tolerant and grows in cold areas.

    The flowers and leaves can be cooked and eaten.

  5. Aponogeton distachyos

    Aponogeton distachyos is a fast growing aquatic herb with glossy oblong leaves that float on the waters surface. 

    Sweetly scented, edible flowers stand up out of the water above the leaves, attracting attention. The flower is interesting in that it is a forked inflorescence bearing tiny, white, one-petalled flowers with brown anthers.

    Bees are very attracted to the flowers and may be one of the main pollinators. Waterblommetjies flower in profusion during winter and spring. Large areas of water in the Western, Southern and Eastern Cape are covered with their sweetly scented, white flowers.

    An excellent plant for ponds and dams, although where growing conditions are good, it needs cutting back and splitting to keep it from taking over. Rhizomes can be lifted in autumn and divided. Replant them immediately in good soil, in shallow water, and as they begin to grow in summer they can be moved into deeper water.

    Plant in pots, in good soil, and place in full sun to partial shade for some of the day.

    This is a well known local delicacy for the cold winter months. It has become so popular that many commercial plantings have been made in ponds around the western Cape. Cooked with onions, mutton or lamb and a few leaves of the local sorrel/suring (Oxalis pes-caprae), it makes a delicious stew.



  6. Isolepis cernua

    Isolepis cernua is an evergreen, wide-spread, fountain-like, bright green, little flowering sedge that has silvery flower heads on the tips of long stems that make it look like a spray of fibre-optic threads.

    Although frost hardy, it requires damp growing conditions.  It grows in marshy areas, so needs plenty of water, and will be at its best at the edge of a water feature or in a container that will hold moisture.

    Plant in full sun to light shade.

  7. Nymphaea nouchali

    Nymphaea nouchali is a hardy, deciduous waterlily.

    It has glossy, circular, floating leaves that turn lovely colours in autumn.

    The flowers are a beautiful sky blue through pale lilac to pink flowers with masses of yellow stamens in the centre. These are carried on longish stems above the surface of the water from September to May.

    This is a submerged plant that should be planted to a depth of no less than 25cm in sun or light shade.

    Used in traditional medicine for coughs and colds.

    In habitat the fruit is eaten by the Purple Gallinule.


    Size: Floating parts spread to 1m diameter

  8. Gunnera perpensa

    Gunnera perpensa is a very hardy, deciduous marsh plant, with large tuberous roots that have a nitrogen fixing, symbiotic relationship with blue-green algae. It has beautiful big, round, bluish-green leaves that are carried on long stems and arise from a central point on the roots.

    The tiny brown flowers are densely packed in gracefully-drooping spikes from September to February.

  9. Gomphostigma virgatum

    Gomphostigma virgatum is an extremely hardy, evergreen, water-loving, graceful perennial or shrub with small, elongated, attractive grey leaves.

    It blooms profusely almost all year round with spikes of white flowers.

  10. Berula erecta

    Berula erecta is a hardy, evergreen plant, easy to grow in marshy areas. It has attractive, bright-green, upright, fern-like foliage.

    It flowers from December to March and it bears heads of many delicate, white flowers that are approximately 60 to 80mm in diameter that make good cut flowers. The flowers attract a variety of pollinating insects to the garden.

    A portion of the plants in a waterside planting will ramble & root their way and 'float' attractively onto the water surface, providing good habitat for fish fry. An excellent plant for filtration of fishpond water and grey water.

    Used in traditional medicine where the roots are held in the mouth to relieve toothache.

  11. Cyperus alternifolius flabelliformis

    Cyperus alternifolius subsp. is a hardy, evergreen, medium-sized sedge that forms large clumps.Long, green stems are topped with a circle of flat green bracts.

    The clusters of brown flowers stand out above the green bracts in summer.Attracts many birds such as Weavers, Waders and other water birds. Ideal for water edges, wetland gardens and the cleaning of grey water.

    Remove the dead stems regularly to keep it looking neat.This Cyperus is a fast spreader and the rhizomes will cover an area rapidly.

    (It may need to be thinned out periodically.)Plant in sun or semi-shade.

    Size: up to 1,3m

  12. Cyperus papyrus

    Cyperus papyrus is a hardy, evergreen sedge. It is the largest sedge in Africa.It forms clumps of tall, green, bare stems, topped by heads of grass-like flower spikelets, giving it a mop-like appearance. 

    Attracts many birds such as weavers, waders and water birds.A

  13. Cyperus prolifer

    Cyperus prolifer is a hardy, evergreen, small sedge. Each green stem is topped by a cluster of grass-like flower spikelets.

    These very decorative stems can be used in flower arrangements. An attractive little plant that is ideal for planting in a small pond or wet area.

    Helps to filter and keep water clean and healthy.Will gradually colonise a wet area through the repeated emergence of adventitious shoots.

    Plant in sun or semi-shade.

    Size: 30 to 40cm

  14. Cyperus textilis

    Cyperus textilis is a hardy, evergreen, tall sedge that forms clumps of bare, green stems topped with upright, flat, narrow, spiky bracts that radiate out like the ribs of an umbrella.

    Delicate, inconspicuous, green flowers are carried above the bracts in late summer.Attracts many birds such as Weavers, Waders and other water birds.

    This tough plant is traditionally used amongst the Nama to weave huts, mats and baskets. It makes an attractive form plant that grows in water or other damp places. 

    Ideal for wetlands, water edges, bog gardens and the cleaning of grey water. Prune regularly to keep looking neat.

    This Cyperus is a fast spreader and the rhizomes will cover an area rapidly.(It may need to be thinned out periodically.)

    Plant in sun or semi-shade.

    Size: 1.5

  15. Cyperus albostriata

    Cyperus albostriatus is a hardy, evergreen sedge with its tuft of basal leaves.The bare stem carries a terminal umbrella of what look like bright-green, grass-like leaves with a faint white stripe.

    These are actually bracts from which the flowers are borne.A

  16. Hesperantha coccinea

    Hesperantha coccinea [=Schizostylis] is a very hardy, mostly evergreen, bulbous plant with a fan of bright-green, strap-like leaves.

    It bears showy spikes of large, star-shaped flowers that cluster at the tips of slender stems from December to April. The colors vary from bright-scarlet to soft, pale pink.

    It attracts insects to the garden and is a butterfly host plant.If left for a few years, it forms large clumps and is a sight to behold. Seeing them flowering en masse along streams in the foothills of the Drakensberg is amazing.

  17. Juncus effusus

    Juncus effusus - Mat-Rush is a very hardy, evergreen, tufted, perennial rush grows in wet areas as well as in a normally irrigated garden.The grass-like leaves are very variable, with some plants having robust, upright leaves whilst others have slender graceful leaves.

    The flowers are small, dry and scaly and crowded at the tips of the long thin stems in spring and summer.The flowering stems are beautiful in a vase.

    Traditionally used for weaving sleeping mats and baskets.The little seeds are golden brown. It is a useful addition to a wetland garden and to help filter water.

    It should be planted in well-watered, sunny areas.

    Size: 1m

  18. Kniphofia uvaria

    Kniphofia uvaria is a hardy, evergreen, herbaceous perennial found in marshes, on streambanks and in mountain grassland.The long, strap-like leaves are folded in a clump and are quite hard.

    The beautiful flower spikes are borne on long stems in December and January.The buds are orange, then open in succession into yellow flowers.

    These attract pollinating insects and butterflies as well as Sunbirds to the garden.Plant in a water garden or amongst grasses for the natural look.

    They are also beautiful when planted en masse especially when in flower.Grows best in full sun with plenty of water.

    Size: up to 1m

  19. Mentha longifolia

    Mentha longifolia is a hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, perennial herb which grows in damp areas and has long, thin, bright-green leaves with slightly serrated margins. When crushed they are strongly mint-scented.

    It has slender spikes of white to pale-mauve flowers from December to February. It is an essential element of a butterfly garden and also attracts other pollinating insects and thus insectiverous birds to the garden.

    Makes a delicious herbal tea and can be added to cordials and other cold drinks.

    Excellent for moist areas of the garden or wetland features. It spreads rapidly, so cut off excess shoots and prune regularly to keep in shape. Although it does best in full sun it tolerates a little light shade.

    Size: up to 1m

  20. Elegia capensis

    Elegia capensis is a hardy, evergreen restio is a large, ornamental form plant for water features.It produces tall stems with soft-feathery leaves at regular intervals along its length.

    The golden-brown flowers are carried at the tip of the tall stems in Octocber and November.It is a beautiful form plant that whispers in the wind.Prune back old stems regularly and thin out if it gets too large.

    Plant in ponds or beside water features or streams.If not in a pond, plant in rich but well-drained soil (as standing water can become stagnant) and water well in winter.

    It will grow in sun or semi-shade.

    Size: up to 2m

  21. Nymphoides indica

    Nymphoides indica is a semi-deciduous, floating plant with rhizomes and long, slender stems ending in almost circular leaves floating flat on the surface of the water.

    From October to May it has abundant, small, fluffy, yellow flowers at the edge of each leaf and is a pretty sight floating on the surface of a pond.

    It is also suitable for a very small pond.

  22. Typha capensis

    Typha capensis is a very hardy reed that can be either evergreen or deciduous depending on local climate.  It is robust, fast-growing and is widespread.  It only grows partially submerged in water. It has long, grey-green stems with blue-green leaves.

    From December to January, the stems end in the typical, cylindrical, velvety brown ‘Bulrush’ flower. These turn into seeds covered in ‘cotton wool’ which helps with dispersal of seeds.

    This ‘cotton wool’ is used to stuff cushions.

    It has many traditional and medicinal uses.

    The Bulrush can be used in boggy areas, among wet pebbles and is one of the best plants to clean grey water. It helps to keep pond water clean and healthy. It is used extensively for the rehabilitation of wetlands and other permanently wet areas. This plant creates vital habitat for many bird species, fish fry, frogs, terrapins and many other aquatic creatures.

    This plant spreads quite aggressively by its rhizomes and should only be planted in containers in garden ponds where it can be controlled.

    Plant in full sun and prune and clean once a year.

    Size: 1 to 2.5m

  23. Schoenoplectus corymbosus

    Schoenoplectus corymbosus is a hardy, evergreen, robust, reed-like, fast-growing sedge that grows partially submerged in water.

    From September to April, the long, tough, green, flowering stems are tipped with golden-brown flowers.

    This attractive sedge is extensively utilised for mat and basket weaving.

    This is a wetland plant that will add a feeling of authenticity when planted on the edges of a pond. It can also be used in boggy areas, among wet pebbles and in grey-water systems.

  24. Juncus inflexus

    Juncus inflexus is a very hardy, evergreen, tufted, perennial rush with stiff, erect, grey-green stems.

    In spring and summer, brown, dry, scaly flowers are crowded at the tips of these stems. The little seeds that follow the flowers are reddish to golden brown.

    This rush is used traditionally to weave baskets.

    This is a wetland plant that will add a feeling of authenticity when planted on the edges of a pond. It can also be used in boggy areas, among wet pebbles and in grey-water systems.

    Plant in full sun and prune and remove dead stems once a year.

    Size: up to 1m