Flora of Northern Ireland

Lakes, reservoirs and ponds

Tower LakeThere are many lakes and ponds in Northern Ireland, of varying sizes. The largest are Lough Neagh (the largest body of freshwater in the British Isles), Upper Lough Erne and Lower Lough Erne. An inventory of Northern Ireland lakes, with statistics such as surface areas and number of lakes at different altitudes, is available from the Stationery Office, Belfast: The Lakes of Northern Ireland: an annotated inventory by S.J. Smith, S. A. Wolfe-Murphy, I Enlander and C. E. Gibson, Countryside & Wildlife Research Series No.3, 1991.

The forerunner of the Environment & Heritage Service financed an intensive survey of Northern Ireland freshwater lakes during the late 1980s. The plant data from this Northern Ireland Lake Survey is included within the Vascular Plant Database for Northern Ireland (VPDNI).

inter-drumlin lakeLakes are a species-rich habitat in general, although the richness of an individual lake is governed by many factors such as water chemistry, local geology, and altitude. Pollution by run-off from surrounding farmland may adversely affect the biology of lowland lakes. In very general terms, lowland lakes are more species-rich and have more nutrient-rich waters whereas upland lakes tend to be nutrient-poor and contain fewer plant species. Lowland lakes are frequently surrounded by marshy vegetation which grades into fen, upland lakes are frequently surrounded by acid bog.

Many lakes are used as water reservoirs, with water levels artificially raised by dams; other reservoirs are entirely artificial. The vegetation of reservoirs is not fundamentally different from that of natural lakes.

Significant or characteristic species of lowland lakes

(Included are: common or frequent species which would be expected to occur in most lowland lakes, and species which are rare but whose main habitat is lowland lakes.)

The three categories (1,2,3 below) are not always clearly separable.

Lakeside (fen)
Submerged aquatics
Emergent and floating-leaved aquatics
Lycopus europaeus Potamogeton gramineus Ranunculus peltatus
Mentha aquatica Potamogeton berchtoldii Nuphar lutea
Eleocharis palustris Potamogeton alpinus Nymphaea alba
Equisetum fluviatile Potamogeton friesii Lobelia dortmanna
Typha latifolia Berula erecta Equisetum fluviatile
Cladium mariscus Lemna trisulca Elatine hexandra
Iris pseudacorus Littorella lacustris Elatine hydropiper
Hydrocotyle vulgaris Stratiotes aloides Azolla filiculoides
Stellaria alsine Lagarosiphon major Crassula helmsii
Stellaria palustris Elodea canadensis Hydrocotyle ranunculoides
Salix cinerea Zannichellia palustrisSchoenoplectus lacustris
Salix fragilis Potamogeton lucens Lemna minuta
Alnus glutinosa Potamogeton x nitens Lemna gibba
Epilobium hirsutum Potamogeton x zizii Lemna minor
Epilobium palustre Potamogeton praelongus Spirodela polyrhiza
Epilobium parviflorum Potamogeton perfoliatus Oenanthe crocata
Impatiens glandulifera Potamogeton pusillus Oenanthe aquatica
Carex vesicaria Potamogeton obtusifolius Oenanthe fistulosa
Carex rostrata Potamogeton crispus Baldellia ranunculoides
Carex panicea Potamogeton x undulatus Alisma lanceolatum
Carex flacca Potamogeton x cooperi Alisma plantago-aquatica
Caltha palustris Potamogeton filiformis Sparganium erectum
Persicaria hydropiper Potamogeton pectinatus Sparganium emersum
Spiranthes romanzoffiana Apium inundatum Sparganium angustifolium
Ranunculus sceleratus Apium x moorei Potamogeton natans
Dactylorhiza incarnata Glyceria fluitans 
Dactylorhiza fuchsii Hydrocharis morsus-ranae 
Glyceria aquatica Acorus calamus 
Phragmites australis Eleocharis quinqueflora 
Phalaris arundinacea Eleocharis palustris 
Ranunculus flammula Sagittaria sagittifolia 
Ranunculus lingua Apium nodiflorum 
Bidens tripartita Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum  
Bidens cernua    
Eupatorium cannabinum  
Potentilla palustris    
Potentilla anserina    
Angelica sylvestris    
Juncus articulatus    
Juncus effusus    
Juncus acutiflorus    
Juncus bufonius    
Potamogeton coloratus    
Potamogeton polygonifolius    
Filipenula ulmaria    
Solanum dulcamara    
Calystegia sepium subsp. sepium    
Agrostis stolonifera    
Carex nigra    
Carex diandra    
Carex elata    
Carex lasiocarpa    
Carex riparia    
Carex viridula ssp. brachyrrhyncha    
Carex viridula ssp. oedocarpa    
Typha latifolia    
Typha angustifolia    
Butomus umbellatus    
Stachys palustris    
Hierochloe odorata    
Senecio aquaticus    
Sagina nodosa    
Chenopodium polyspermum    
Chenopodium murale    
Osmunda regalis    
Cicuta virosa    
Equisetum palustre    
Veronica scutellata    
Achillea ptarmica    
Deschampsia caespitosa    

Significant or characteristic species of upland lakes

(Included are: common or frequent species which would be expected to occur in most upland lakes, and species which are rare but whose main habitat is upland lakes.)

The three categories (1,2,3 below) are not always clearly separable.

Submerged aquatics
Emergent and floating-leaved aquatics
Ranunculus flammula Isoetes lacustris Lobelia dortmanna
Eleocharis palustris Juncus bulbosus (aquatic form) Sparganium angustifolium
Juncus bulbosus Myriophyllum verticillatum Eleocharis multicaulis
Juncus articulatus Littorella uniflora Potamogeton natans
Juncus bufonius Sparganium angustifolium 
Carex panicea Schoenoplectus lacustris 
Carex nigra Nymphaea alba 
Carex echinata  
Eleocharis multicaulis   
Eriphorum angustifoium  
Schoenus nigricans  
Drosera rotundifolia  
Molinia caerulea  
Carex pilulifera  
Groenlandia densa  
Galium palustre  
Carex pulicaris  
Myosotis laxa  
Myosotis secunda  
Carex lasiocarpa  
Carex rostrata  
Carex vesicaria  
Myrica gale  
Potamogeton polygonifolius  
Iris pseudacorus  
Myriophyllum alterniflorum  
Hydrocotyle vulgaris  
Potamogeton berchtoldii  
Viola palustris  
Pinguicula vulgaris  
Anagallis tenella  
Montia fontana  
Carex flacca  
Sparganium natans  
Equisetum fluviatile  
Equisetum palustre  
Carex viridula  
Eleogiton fluitans  
Juncus bufonius  
Cirsium palustre  
Trichophorum cespitosum  
Carex pauciflora