Museu del Ter CERM
Coneix el riu

River banks and the areas around them have their own plant life, which is called riparian vegetation. It forms a characteristic border that follows the course of the river. Riparian woods include a wide range of flora and fauna. This plant life has an important role in the ecosystem, and acts as:

  • A refuge for animals and plants
  • A biological corridor or ecological connector
  • A source of food for the ecosystem
  • A filter for water pollutants
  • A stabiliser for the banks and a barrier in times of flooding (slowing rising water and retaining sediments, etc.)
  • A means to aid the re-filling of aquifers
  • A regulator for the amount of sun on the river and of water temperature

The resource page has an identification key to help you identify riparian vegetation.


	White poplar

White poplar
Populus alba

	Black poplar

Black poplar
Populus nigra


Populus tremula

	White willow

White willow
Salix alba

	Grey willow

Grey willow
Salix atrocinerea

	Bitter willow

Bitter willow
Salix elaeagnos

	Purple willow

Purple willow
Salix purpurea


Sorbus aria

	Checker tree

Checker tree
Sorbus torminalis

	European ash

European ash
Fraxinus excelsior

	Field Elm

Field Elm
Ulmus minor

	Common alder

Common alder
Alnus glutinosa

	Common hazel

Common hazel
Corylus avellana

	Field maple

Field maple
Acer campestre

	Italian maple

Italian maple
Acer opalus

	Montpellier maple

Montpellier maple
Acer monspessulanum

	Large-leaved lime or linden

Large-leaved lime or linden
Tilia platyphyllos


	Common hawthorn

Common hawthorn
Crataegus monogyna

	Dog rose

Dog rose
Rosa canina


Rubus sp


Sambucus nigra

	Common ivy

Common ivy
Heredera helix

	Bloody dogwood

Bloody dogwood
Cornus sanguinea

	European box

European box
Buxus sempervirens

	Blackthorn or sloe

Blackthorn or sloe
Prunus spinosa

Herbaceous Plants

	Boga	Bulrush
Tyhpa latifolia
	Canyís	Common reed
Phragmites australis
	Yellow iris	Yellow iris
Iris pseudacorus

Vegetation of river headwaters

The river headwaters have species adapted to cold temperatures and steep slopes.

	Sycamore	Sycamore
Acer pseudoplatanus
	Norway maple	Norway maple
Acer platanoides
	Silver birch	Silver birch
Betula pendula
	Wild cherry	Wild cherry
Prunus avium
	Pussy willow	Pussy willow
Salix caprea
	Almond willow	Almond willow
Salix triandra
	Rowan or mountain-ash	Rowan or mountain-ash
Sorbus aucuparia
	Scots elm	Scots elm
Ulmus glabra

Vegetation specific to Mediterranean River Areas

Riparian vegetation specific to Mediterranean areas is characterised for its ability to survive very dry summers and highly variable precipitation throughout the year, and even over several years.

	Freixe de fulla petita	Narrow-leafed ash
Fraxinus angustifolia
	Bay tree	Bay tree
Laurus nobilis
	Lesser bulrush	Lesser bulrush
Tyhpa angustifolia
	Redoul	Redoul
Coriaria myrtifolia

The Riparian Vegetation of Rain-fed and Ephemeral Rivers

Species adapted to extreme drought situations are found in rain-fed and ephemeral rivers, due to their ability to cope with a prolonged lack of water and their resistance to sudden rainstorms.

	Chaste tree	Chaste tree
Vitex agnus-castus
	Oleander	Oleander
Nerium oleander
	Round-headed clubrush	Round-headed clubrush
Scirpus holoschoenus

Saltwater-specific Vegetation

Plant life that has adapted to high levels of saltwater may be found in some wetland areas and lower river stretches.

	Samphire	Samphire
Arthrochemun fruticosum
	African tamarisk	African tamarisk
Tamarix africana
	French tamarisk	French tamarisk
Tamarix anglica

Invasive Species

Human intervention (wood cutting, earthmoving, etc.) and other disturbances give invasive species the opportunity to settle on river banks. These species are a significant threat, as they replace native species and may cause important changes to the riparian environment. They sometimes form mono-specific populations without any natural value. Invasive species need to be controlled and more importantly, new introductions need to be prevented.

*Invasive species are considered to be those that proliferate in an area in which they are not native and where they have appeared due to the actions of Man.

	Ailanthus	Ailanthus
Ailanthus altissima
	Elephant grass	Elephant grass
Arundo donax
	False acacia	False acacia
Robinia pseudoacacia
	London plane	London plane
Platanus x hispanica
	Weeping willow	Weeping willow
Salix babylonica
	Box elder	Box elder
Acer negundo
	Mediterranean hackberry	Mediterranean hackberry
Celtis australis
	Crack willow	Crack willow
Salix fragilis
	Canadian poplar	Canadian poplar
Populus x canadiensis
	Necklace poplar	Necklace poplar
Populus deltoides
	Summer lilac	Summer lilac
Buddleja davidii
	Pokeweed Pokeweed
Phytolacca americana
	Persian walnut	Persian walnut
Juglans regia
	Siberian elm	Siberian elm
Ulmus pumila
	Pampas grass	Pampas grass
Cortaderia selloana
	Jerusalem artichoke	Jerusalem artichoke
Helianthus tuberosus
	Japanese honeysuckle	Japanese honeysuckle
Lonicera japonica
	Tree tobacco	Tree tobacco
Nicotiana glauca
	Virginia creeper	Virginia creeper
Parthenocisus quinquefolia
	Common bamboo	Common bamboo
Bambusa vulgaris, Phyllostachys sp.

Illustrations: © Toni Llobet