Plants Near Rivers & Streams

Updated July 19, 2017

A variety of plant species are found primarily along the edges of rivers and streams. Many of these plants require a constant supply of fresh water. Such bank-dwelling plants include common cattails, weeping willow trees and horsetails.

Common Cattail

Common cattails (Typha latifolia) are rhizomatous plants often associated with marshy riverbanks, ponds and ditches. These plants send up long, erect leaves resembling 10-foot blades of grass. From May to July, they produce sausage-shaped brown flowers, which burst open in the autumn to release white, fluffy seeds that scatter on the winds. Red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese and mallards nest in cattail clumps. Muskrats use this plant for food and shelter.

Weepng Willow

Another plant commonly seen along riverbanks is the weeping willow tree (Salix babylonica). This tree is easily identified by its long, graceful arching limbs and slender, silvery leaves. It bears fuzzy catkins. Weeping willow trees reach a mature height of 30 to 40 feet.


Horsetails, or members of the Equisetum genus, also thrive on riverbanks. Horsetails are grasslike plants composed of segments like bamboo. These plants are known as living fossils, tracing their lineage back to the Carboniferous Age, more than 300 million years ago. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the horsetail species Equisetum arvense was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to heal wounds, ulcers, tuberculosis and kidney disease.

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About the Author

Tara Cochrane has been writing nonfiction essays and articles since 1999. She worked as a writer for Cosmic Patterns Software, where she created content concerning various topics in astrology. Her work is included in the Sirius astrology software program. Cochrane earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Florida State University.