PLANTS OF THE CONNECTICUT RIVER

For inquiries contact Ed Klekowski

A great variety of different plant species occurs either in or along the Connecticut River. As the longest river in New England, flowing 410 miles from near the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, the river's habitats are not only diverse at any one site but change as we travel north from the temperate marine estuary at Long Island Sound to the boreal lakes where the river originates. The plants in and along the Connecticut River include species in almost every major evolutionary line.

Botanists have traditionally divided the plants into two groups:
1. Algae
2. Land Plants
We will deal with the very diverse group of "plant-like" forms that constitute the Algae in another section of this website; here let's focus on the Land Plants. Among the Land Plants there are terrestrial, aquatic (fresh water inhabiting) and marine species; this may initially appear confusing, but it is analogous to mammals, a predominantly terrestrial group that has evolved whales and seals. So to begin with, we can organize the Land Plant flora of the Connecticut River into where the species live: terrestrial, aquatic, or marine. Since we are just beginning the website, the following table includes only two of the three categories, but it will grow!

VASCULAR PLANTS

AquaticTerrestrial
Eel GrassGroundnut
Wild RiceEdible Ferns
Invasive SpeciesLiving Fossil
Wigwam Birch
The Royal Fern

NON-VASCULAR PLANTS (Bryophytes)

AquaticTerrestrial
Giant Water MossMosses
Liverworts

PLANT PROCESSES

Photosynthesis

The Land Plants themselves constitute a very diverse assemblage of organisms and represent the culmination of over 400,000,000 years of evolution. The first fossils of Land Plants occur in the late Silurian period, the beginning of the Age of Fishes. The only land animals present then were primitive arthropods. Connecticut River Land Plants fall into the following broad groupings:

Bryophytes - nonseed bearing plants, reproduce by spores, haploid phase is dominant, vascular tissue (xylem and phloem) is absent. Mosses and Liverworts.
Pteridophytes - nonseed bearing plants, reproduce by spores, diploid phase is dominant, vascular tissue present. Ferns, Horsetails, Clubmosses, Quillworts.
Gymnosperms - seed plants, diploid phase is dominant, vascular tissue present. Conifers: Pines, Spruces, Cedars, Firs.
Angiosperms - seed plants, diploid phase is dominant, vascular tissue present. FLOWERS present. Roses, Daisies, Maples, Elms, Grasses, and many many others!

References:

Bold, H. C. Morphology of Plants. (Any edition) Harper

and Row, Publishers, New York.

Bell, A. D. Plant Form: An Illustrated Guide to Flowering

Plant Morphology. Oxford University Press.

Gifford, E. and Foster, A. Morphology of Vascular Plants.

(Any edition) Freeman and Co., New York.

Harlow, W. And Harrar, E. Textbook of Dendrology. (Forest

trees of the U.S. and Canada. McGraw Hill.

Stern, K. R. Introductory Plant Biology. (Any edition)

Brown Publishers.

Raven, P. H., Evert, R. F. And Eichhorn, S. E. Biology of

Plants. (Any edition) Worth Publishers

Identification Guides:

Fassett, N. C. A Manual of Aquatic Plants. (Any edition)

McGraw Hill.

Tiner, R. W., Jr. A Field Guide to Coastal Wetland Plants of

the Northeastern United States. University of
Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Magee, D. W. Freshwater Wetlands. University of

Massachusetts Press, Amherst.