Mission Statement

Bearing Witness to Local Natural History-- from the wildness of Indiana

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wetland Plant Adaptations: Aerenchyma

In preparing for a educational workshop on wetlands, I collected a couple of wetland plants (American Lotus and Cattails) in order to illustrate the adaptations of these plants. Adaptations are the physiological, morphological, & reproductive characteristics that plants and animal have to survive in their specific environments.

There are three basic characteristics of that help define a wetland. (1) hydric soils (saturated soils), (2) hydrophytic plants (plants adapted to grow in wet/hydric soils, and (3) hydrologic regime (the presence of water over a period of time. In hydric soils, there is no oxygen so plants must thrive in anaerobic conditions. In order to do so, they have adaptations that allow them to  transport oxygen to their roots. One of those amazing adaptations is aerenchyma. Aerenchyma is the presence of air holes in the leaves, stems, and roots of aquatic plants.

Below are my photos of the seed head of American Lotus, aerenchyma of the stem of American Lotus, arenchyma in the stem of Cattail and then the leaves of Cattail.

I always marvel at the amazing adaptations that plants and animals possess.

Photos © Joni L. James

American Lotus Seed Head

Aerenchyma: A. Lotus Stem

Aerenchyma: Cattail Stem

Aerenchyma: Cattail Leaf


Deb Crecelius said...

Very interesting.
I have seen this before,
but I had no idea what or why this was.

Joni James said...

The adaptations of plants and animals fascinate me. They are so well equipped for survival in their particular environment.