Flora of Northern Ireland

RIVERS (Lowland)

The map of Northern Ireland shows that rivers follow one of a small number of patterns in terms of their direction or destination of flow.

Ballinderry River at KillymoonLough Neagh tributaries

These include the Upper Bann, Sixmilewater, Glenavy River, Crumlin River, Blackwater, Moyola River, Ballinderry River, River Main. Lough Neagh drains north to the Atlantic by means of the Lower River Bann.

Lough Erne tributaries

These include the upper River Erne itself, Kesh River, Ballycassidy and Ballinamallard Rivers, Sillees River, Arney River (which drains the Loughs Macnean whose tributaries include the Cladagh River running out from Marble Arch), Cladagh or Swanlinbar River, Woodford River, Colebrooke River, Hollybrook River. Lough Erne drains westwards to the Atlantic Ocean by the lower River Erne).

Lough Melvin tributaries

Shared between Co's Fermanagh and Leitrim, this lake receives water from upland streams and discharges westwards to the Atlantic Ocean by the Drowes River.

Spinkwee River at Nassau BridgeRivers draining to Lough Foyle, the North Coast, the Antrim Coast or the Irish Sea.

The most significant are the Rivers Foyle (and its main tributaries: the Strule, Owenkillew and Glenelly Rivers), Faughan, Roe, Lower Bann (which drains Lough Neagh via Lough Beg), Bush, and all the rivers flowing down from the Antrim Hills eastwards, (mainly those of the Antrim Glens), the Inver or Larne River, the Lagan and its tributaries, and all the rivers in Co Down except the Upper Bann and its tributaries. The principal Co Down lowland rivers which drain to the Irish Sea are the Lagan, Ballynahinch, Newry and Quoile Rivers and their tributaries.

Lowland rivers tend to be slow-flowing, unlike those of the uplands, but no clear demarcation is feasible. Many species characteristic of lowland rivers are shared with canals and lowland lakes.


Significant or characteristic species of the banks and waters of lowland rivers

Riparian species
(on river banks)
Submerged aquaticsEmergent or floating-leaved aquatics
Agrostis stolonifera Potamogeton perfoliatus Solanum dulcamara
Alnus glutinosa Elodea nuttallii Typha latifolia
Angelica sylvestris Lemna trisulca Alisma lanceolatum
Bidens tripartitus Potamogeton praelongus Lemna gibba
Caltha palustris Potamogeton x undulatus Lemna minor
Calystegia sepium subsp. sepium Potamogeton crispus Carex riparia
Cardamine pratensis Potamogeton x cooperi Ranunculus fluitans
Cirsium arvense Potamogeton x sparganifolius Alisma plantago-aquatica
Cirsium vulgare Potamogeton alpinus Hydrocotyle vulgaris
Dactylis glomerata Zannichellia palustris Nuphar lutea
Elytrigia repens Elodea canadensis Ranunculus penicillatus
Equisetum arvense   Oenanthe crocata
Equisetum hyemale   Potamogeton natans
Equisetum x litorale   Spirodela polyrhiza
Filipendula ulmaria   Butomus umbellatus
Galium palustre   Equisetum fluviatile
Heracleum mantegazzianum   Myosotis scorpioides
Heracleum sphondylium subsp. sphondylium   Myosotis laxa
Hieracium latobrigorum   Rorippa amphibia
Holcus lanatus   Oenanthe aquatica
Impatiens glandulifera   Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum
Juncus acutiflorus   Sagittaria sagittifolia
Juncus articulatus   Persicaria amphibia
Juncus bufonius   Glyceria aquatica
Juncus effusus   Glyceria fluitans
Lycopus europaeus   Sparganium erectum
Lysichiton americanus    
Lythrum salicaria    
Mentha aquatica    
Persicaria amphibia    
Persicaria hydropiper   
Petasites hybridus    
Peucedanum ostruthium   
Phalaris arundinacea    
Rorippa palustris   
Rosa canina  
Rubus fruticosus agg    
Rumex obtusifolius  
Salix alba    
Salix cinerea    
Salix fragilis    
Salix viminalis    
Senecio aquaticus    
Senecio fluviatilis    
Senecio jacobaea    
Solanum dulcamara   
Stachys palustris    
Urtica dioica    
Iris pseudacorus    
Lysimachia vulgaris