Ajuntament de Barcelona

Riparian plants

Joan Brossa Garden

    Feather Reed Grass

    The areas near rivers, lakes, ponds, ravines and arroyos usually have a rich bio diverse riparian vegetation which is very productive because of the water abundance.

    At Joan Brossa Garden the natural environment of the riparian zones, with a high landscape value, has been recreated. You can see typical riparian plants, such as the winter heliotrope (Petasites fragrans), a compound plant of winter flowering with vanilla scented pink flowers, the soft rush (Juncus effusus), a perennial rush that lives in the water at flooded areas, the Feather red grass (Calamagrostis acutifolia), a true grass that lives near the water at wet areas, and the creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), a herbaceous Primulacea from wet areas which expands quickly, forming a carpet. 


    The presence of one or another vegetal species in the environment depends on the quality and quantity of water, the level’s deepness and fluctuation and the climate. On the bed and the areas close to the water banks, there are species that live inside water or on floodable areas, such as the yellow iris, the bulrushes and the rushes, or that grow on highly humid grounds, such as the creeping Jenny.

    Many of these plants have rhizomes, bulbs or stolons that make rooting and new sprouting easier. In the bank itself, there are trees (poplar, elm) and bushes (blackberries, common hawthorn) that block sediments, nutrients, pesticides and other pollutants on the surface and the inside of the water.

    The riparian forests have a big ecological importance because they act as a transitional area between water and land and as a biological corridor. The different strata of vegetation and environment favour the existence of numerous different animals, such as mammals, amphibians, fishes or insects. The vegetation favours the stabilization of the banks and reduces the loss of ground because of the erosion.

    The main Catalan riparian forests are the forests of black alders, willows, poplars and grey willow.

    History and curiosities: 

    It is estimated that in Spain, more of the 80% of riparian forest has been damaged, either because of the diminution of the aquifer flow (because of agricultural and extractive uses, drought...), the growing contamination of river basins (with urban and industrial waste), the urbanisation of the areas (altering the course of the rivers) or, even, wrong nature conservation actions.

    Common rush
    Common rush
    Creeping Jenny
    winter heliotrope
    winter heliotrope
    Common rush Common rush Creeping Jenny winter heliotrope winter heliotrope