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Plants & Trees

More than 2,700 types of plants grow throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Plants grow in nearly every habitat: from upland forests to the Bay's shoreline to our own backyards.

Plants are critical to the Bay ecosystem because they help keep our air and water clean. Plants also provide habitat for countless animals, including fish, birds and mammals.

Click on the images below to learn about some of the plants and trees that grow in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

There are hundreds of flowers that are native to the Chesapeake Bay region. These flowers are technically known as herbaceous plants, meaning they die off at the end of the growing season.


Algae are simple plants that lack roots, stems, leaves and a vascular system. Like all other plants, algae go through photosynthesis and need sunlight to grow.

Some algae are phytoplankton: tiny, single-celled plants that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Other types are multi-cellular and grow in clumps or slimy mats. Some algae species can be confused with bay grasses because they look similar and grow in the same places.

Large algae blooms are often a sign of nutrient pollution in the water. Algae blooms are most common in spring and summer, when heavy rainstorms send more pollution into the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

Click on the images below to learn about some of the algae that grow in the Chesapeake Bay.


At least 50 types of trees grow in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Some trees are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves each autumn and grow new ones in spring. Other trees are evergreen and do not lose their leaves.


Bay grasses - also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV - are plants that grow underwater in the Chesapeake Bay's shallows. More than 16 species of bay grasses grow in the Bay and its tributaries.

Bay grasses are a very important part of the Bay ecosystem. Fish, crabs, waterfowl are a few of the many animals that depend on bay grasses for food and habitat.

Different species of bay grasses grow in different parts of the Bay because of salinity, or the amount of salt in the water. For example, eelgrass prefers the saltier waters of the lower Bay. Other bay grasses, such as naiads and wild celery, only grow in the fresh waters of the upper Bay and the Bay's tributaries.

Click on the images below to learn about some of the bay grasses that grow in the Chesapeake Bay.


Wetland plants grow in moist and wet soils, whereas aquatic plants grow directly in water. Many of these plants are technically known as emergent plants, meaning they can grow in standing water. Although wetland plants are native to the region's marshes and wetlands, they are often planted in parks, yards and other areas.




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