“Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolabah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.”
Banjo Paterson (Waltzing Matilda)
Would you like to spend time by the Billabong? Listening to the frogs and admiring the beautiful plants? Well, this post is all about the amazing plants that grow in Australian freshwater wetlands. So come and explore aquatic plants with me.
In Australia you will find freshwater aquatic plants in rivers, lakes, pond, wetlands and billabongs. Most of these may be familiar to you, but do your know what a Billabong is and where we get the word from?
A Billabong is an isolated pond left behind when a river changes it’s course. It fills and renews after rain and flooding. The word Billabong comes from the Wiradjuri language and can be translated to ‘lake’. Literally it means river in continuing time and space. You can learn more about Billabongs HERE.
Plants that grow in these freshwater areas can be grouped in several different kinds. Plants that grow on the edges of the ponds, such as reeds, bullrushes and trees. Plants that free float on the water. Plants that float but are rooted. Plants that are submerged and plant that are partly submerged and also emergent. Let’s discover more about each kind.
Free Floating Plants
These plants are unattached and float freely on the water. They include plants like Duckweed (Lemnaceae), Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and Liverwort (Ricciocarpus natans)
Floating but Attached
These plants have attached roots but their mature leaves float on the surface of the water. They include plants like Watershield (Brasenia schreberi), Water Primrose (Ludwigia peploides), Nardoo (Marsilea mutica) and Native Waterlily (Nymphae violacea)
These plants have attached roots and normally are totally submerged. The leave may become exposed in time of low water. They produce flowers that either float on the surface of the water or extend an are held above it. They include plants like Waterwort (Elatine gratioloides), Prickly Naiad (Najas marina) and Ribbon-weed (Vallisneria gigantea)
These plants have attached roots. Their stems, flowers and most of the mature leaves project above the water surface. They include plants like Water Plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica), Waterbuttons (Cotula coronopifolia) and Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
These plants grow on the banks of wetland areas. In time of low water they can survive for a time out of water. They include plants such as Bullrushes (Scirpoides holoschoenus), Common reeds (Phragmites australis) and trees like the Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta), and Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia)
Aquatic plants were important to the Aboriginal people. They used them for food, medicine and daily resources. Watch this video by Gardening Australia to learn which plants were important for weaving and making string, how reeds were used to catch waterfowl and what common aquatic plants were important for providing food.
If you would like to create a pond in your back yard then these videos will show you how.
- This video, also from Gardening Australia, shows you how to create your own pond in an old bath tub.
- And in THIS one they build a beautiful backyard billabong.
- Burke’s Backyard also demonstrates creating a Billabong in THIS video.
This post by Kiddle has more information about the different types of Aquatic plants.
The Teens might like to use these project planning pages to design their own pond.
Here are some videos for the younger children.
Some book resources: