Emergent Plants


Emergent plants are species that grow in the water near the shoreline but extend up past its surface for sunlight and air. We identified three different species of emergent plants.


Primary among these emergent plants is Cattail (Typha latifolia). Cattail is native to this area and other members of its genus can be found all over the world. Cattail is a "dominant competitor" in wetland areas, which can lead to its classification as a nuisance plant. It grows rapidly, can survive long periods of unfavorable conditions, and spreads its seed easily. This rapid and widespread growth can cause it to push out other local species, damaging the biodiversity of ecosystems it inhabits. The spread of Cattail can be attributed to its seed heads, each of which may contain as many as 200,000 seeds [11]. In addition to their prolific seeding, cattails are incredibly hardy. Their seeds can survive buried underground for extended periods of time, sprouting when conditions improve. Thanks to an adaptation called Aerenchyma, even dead stalks can still feed air to the roots. [12].

Lake Zones

Common Reed

One of the Indian Lake species in competition with Cattail is the Common Reed (Phragmites australis). It is found around the world, although there are marked differences between subspecies. The European variation is labeled as an invasive species, and can be found mixed in with other subspecies. Similar to Cattail, if allowed to overrun it can heavily damage an ecosystem's biodiversity. It can grow to approximately 6-7 feet in height and can spread by as much as 15ft in a year [13].

Lake Zones


The third emergent species we observed was Poa, the genus for nearly 500 species of grasses. It is closely related to a household lawn grass and poses little to no threat to the lake. However, it can be used as a biomarker because its presence may provide insight into changes occurring in and around the lake.

Canada Rush

A species called Canada rush has been found in 2015 survey which wasn’t previously found in 2013. This species is prevalent in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont. There is a likely chance that there are more Canada Rush plants along the shore line of Indian lake, but with the size of the plant, finding them can be a challenge.

Developed as Part of a WPI Sponsored Project
In Affiliation with The Indian Lake Watershed Association
Worcester, MA 2013