Hofma Park Plant Information

The following is a listing of plants commonly found at Hofma Park the focus is the wetland plants along the longer boardwalk crossing the creek.  Elsewhere in the park are swamp species. 

It is intended as an example of a wet meadow but the water levels fluctuate greatly and it includes many shrub species and many marsh species. 

Hofma Preserve is managed by Grand Haven Charter Township.

Trail Map.

Plants are organized by growth form and phylogenetic grouping as follows:

Aquatic -herbaceous floating or submerged



Onoclea (sensibilis)

Onoclea (sensibilis) – sensitive fern

Medium fern; leaves upright with petioles roughly same length as blades; sterile leaves deciduous and surrounding fertile leaves, once pinnately divided at base, opposite, deeply cleft upward wavy margined or coarsely toothed, ֎with a winged central axis; ֎dimorphic fronds (fertile and sterile leaves appearing distinctly different); fertile leaves contain spore clusters produced in summer and overwinter, leaves divided in beadlike pinnules with in rolled margins covering the sori; sori round and covered by indusia; swampy woods, wet shores, wet meadow margins.

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis - royal fern

Large fern; fronds dimorphic; ֎all fronds bipinnate, ֎large and semi-coarse, oblong, ovate; leaflets not opposite, 6 or more pairs; stipe (frond axis) smooth or glabrous, some fronds sterile, some ֎with fertile pinnae at their tips with pinnae smaller; bogs, lake fronts, stream-banks, meadows.

Osmunda cinnamomea

Osmunda cinnamomea - cinnamon fern

Large fern up to 3’; fronds dimorphic; fertile fronds bearing masses of sporangia, green initially turn brown; sterile fronds large, coarse, ֎twice cut, from central root stock; leaflets are lance-shaped, pointed, cut deeply, 20 or more pairs, nearly opposite, with persistent tufts of fine rust-colored hairs on undersurface of pinnae stalks’ axils; bogs, swamps, stream-banks, edges of ponds.

Dicot   (Herbaceous)

Cicuta sp

Cicuta sp. – water hemlock
Api-aceae (֎double umbel  ֎typically hollow  ֎typically toxic  ֎often with sheath)

Medium to large herb up to 2m; highly poisonous, handle with caution; from tuberous rootstalk; leaves alternate, ֎2-3 pinnate; leaflets narrow or lanceolate; flowers white or green; fruit round or ovate with pronounced ribs, June-September; wet meadows, marshes, moist soils.

Lycopus americanus

Lycopus americanus – cut-leaved water horehound

Medium herb 20-80cm; leaves ֎opposite, ֎deeply serrated; ֎square stems; without odor; flowers small in ֎clusters from leaf axis, corolla is a tube usually with two flaring lips; shores and moist ground.

Lythrum salicaria

Lythrum salicaria - purple loosestrife

Large herb up to 2.5m; ֎stems angled, slender, not woody (can be woody as they age); ֎leaves mostly opposite (although often also alternate on the same plant), ֎sessile (no petiole), often almost heart-shaped at base; ֎flowers numerous in long purple spikes; many seeded; wet meadow, shores, shallow marsh. This invasive is common throughout West Michigan and originally escaped from cultivation and was planted as a pretty garden plant. If you see only a few, then remove them, but do not kill native loosestrifes. 

Polygonum sp

Polygonum sp. - smartweed   (split into  Bistorta, Fallopia, Persicaria)

Herb; leaves long, narrow, lance-shaped; flower pink or whitish spike-like clusters, without petals, made up of sepals; “knotted” or zigzag stems, swollen sheaths or joints with ֎papery sheath (ochrea) at each joint; ֎winged achenes; very shallow marshes, wet places, swales, wet meadows, swamps.

Rumex sp

Rumex sp. - dock

Herb; leaves large and clustered at base of plant, or can be leafy stemmed, oblong, flat to wavy margins;  ֎membranous sheath around stem quasi-present at each node (but less pronounced than in polygonum); flowers in crowded whorls in panicles at end of stem, brown, becoming ֎winged achenes; fruit 3-angled achene tipped with a slender beak; June-September; wet meadows and wet non shaded areas.

Boehmeria (cylindrical)

Boehmeria (cylindrica) - false nettle

Medium herb 16-40”; stem hollow, 4-angled; leaves opposite, ֎NO stinging hairs, well stalked, coarsely toothed, ovate; ֎flowering stalks upright with ֎cylindrical clusters (looks like you gave a kid the ice cream scoop and left the room), often with leaves at the terminal end of the inflorescence, ֎from the leaf axis, green; floodplains, swamps.

Monocot   (Herbaceous)

Sagittaria sp.

Sagittaria sp. – arrowhead

Aquatic herb; leaves variable ֎arrow-shaped to elliptical (ribbon-like) to lance-shaped, erect extending above the surface, arising from the base which is normally submersed; inflorescence is a raceme or panicle of whorled white flowers with three round-ish petals; fruit are in dense yellowish heads; ponds, shallow marshes, shores. ֎Leaf veins similar to spider-man symbol.
S. latifolia (duck potato, wapato) with edible tubers in spring or fall (deep).

Peltandra (virginica)

Peltandra (virginica) – arrow arum

Aquatic herb, strong rosette; leaves lobed at base (typically sagittate), each basal lobe with a heavy central vein, 3-nerved,with a small ֎veins that run along the entire leaf margin (like a child traced the leaf); spathe green, fleshy, in-rolled; herbs growing on muddy shores and shallow water.

Pontedaria (cordata)

Pontedaria (cordata) - pickerelweed

Medium herb typically emergent in shallow water; leaves clustered, large, ֎arrow or heart-shaped with ֎numerous parallel veins that flow from one point like un-mixed paint, extending erect above the water surface; flowering stems consist of a single leaf and a ֎dense spike of blue/purple bilabiate flowers; marsh or pond; shallow water, 15-50cm deep.

Typha sp

Typha sp. - cattail

Large emergent herb (generally growing out of shallow water); the two species listed below can produce hybrids so that identification can be difficult; in this class, when given two species the difference will be obvious between the two. Both have ֎long skinny leaves that originate from the same point (round base unlike iris which is fan shaped at the base) and ֎corn-dog looking inflorescences. Flowers small and unisexual, arranged into close cylindrical spikes which consist of an upper region of staminate (male) flowers and a lower region of pistillate (female) flowers in a dark brown spike (the male flower falls off after pollination). The pollen can be harvested and is flour like. The hybrid is generally invasive and can take over large areas.  

Typha angustifolia - narrow-leaved cattail

֎Leaves long thin and ribbon-like, 3-8mm wide; stem is slender, underground stems spread rapidly;  ֎staminate and pistillate portions are usually divided by at least 5mm.

Typha latifolia - broad-leaved cattail

֎Leaves flat, thick and wide, 6-15mm wide; stems stout, underground stems spread rapidly; ֎staminate and pistillate portions are usually contiguous.


Graminoid   (Herbaceous monocot)

Scirpus cyperinus

Scirpus cyperinus – wool grass

Large sedge 0.5-1m; spikelets terminal ֎like a fountain spray of wool puff ball due to long bristles on achenes; involucels (bracts at the base of spikelets) dull brown with blackish bases; common in wet meadows, shores, very shallow marshes, riverbanks.

Scirpus validus

Scirpus validus – softstem bulrush (new name: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani)

Large sedge with single ֎round stem with sheath at base, sometimes leafy and sometimes naked from 70cm-200cm in height, inflorescence sub-terminal and spikelets several, with involucre (bracts) from the base of spikelet; a wide range of water depth habitat from open swales to shallow and deep marshes, common in shallow water of early successional habitats; similar to S. acutus, stem thicker at the base (0.8-2.5cm), light green, ֎soft and spongy (can be easily squished by pinching).

Calamagrostis canadensis

Calamagrostis canadensis - bluejoint

Medium grass up to 1.5m; leaves very narrow1-5mm thick; ֎1 floret per spikelet; ֎bristle like hairs from floret; stem slight; extensive creeping rootstocks; plants forming hummocks or tufts; inflorescence open loose arrangement (like a true fox’s tail), stamens and pistils borne in same spikelet without spines; shores, swales, wet meadows.

Leersia oryzoides

Leersia oryzoides - rice cut grass

Medium grass 10cm-1m; stems and ֎leaves rough and cutting (feeling sticky); joints of stems with very small stiff bristles or pubescence; inflorescence forming little spikelets, 1.5-2mm wide, fringed margins, overlapping in a single row (֎like a stack of pancakes); wet meadow, shores, shallow marsh.

Phalaris arundinacea

Phalaris arundinacea - reed canary grass

Very common grass up to 1.5m; found in large clumps especially in drainage ditches; flowers in spikelets in club-like masses (֎compound spike), stamens and pistils borne in same spikelet without spines, not all on one side; shores, swales, wet meadows; lemma with 2 tufts of silky hairs at base; can be highly invasive.

Aquatic -herbaceous floating or submerged


Certatophyllum images

Ceratophyllum sp. – coontail

Exclusively submerged; leaves ֎whorled, ֎dichotomously forked with ֎spiny teeth along one side, more crowded toward the tip giving the “coontail” appearance; plants free floating, without roots; variable in length; ponds, shallow marshes. Weird fact: vascular plant with no vascular tissue.

Nuphar sp

Nuphar sp. - yellow water lily

Floating or emergent herb; large floating leaves, ֎leaf blades oblong to oval or heart-shaped; underground stem (rhizome) thick and fleshy (֎sometimes firm petiole, may have emergent leaves); floating flower, with ֎rounded yellow petal-like sepals.

Nymphaea odorata

Nymphaea odorata - fragrant water lily
Nymphae-aceae (֎large floating leaves   ֎massive rhizome   ֎many stamen)

Floating herb; large floating leaves, ֎nearly round in shape with a ֎v-shaped cleft (vampire teeth); underground stem (rhizome) thick and fleshy (֎weak stem, leaf floats directly on water surface); floating flower is white, fragrant with ֎numerous petals and stamens; marshes and ponds, 10-55cm deep.

Ludwigia palustris

Ludwigia palustris - water-purslane

Aquatic herb preferring wet soils but can live indefinitely underwater; ֎leaves opposite, ovate to lance-shaped, green to red in color, best recognized by a ֎red bottom (only prominent with high light intensity), tapered at base to ֎winged petiole; stems poor, creeping or partially floating, branched to simple, smooth or with sparse scattered hairs; flowers stalkless and single from leaf axils, petals absent and sepals triangular; fruit a capsule; July-September; shallow water or exposed mud on pond margins. 

Monocot   (Aquatic -herbaceous floating or submerged)

Elodea sp

Elodea sp. – waterweed

Submerged herb; branching stems forming large masses at the bottom; ֎leaves in whorls of 3, ֎small ribbon-like; flowers from a spathe, pistillate with a long thread-like tube reaching surface; shores, ponds, shallow marshes.

Potamogeton crispus

Potamogeton crispus - curly pondweed

Invasive submerged herb; ֎stems compressed (flat) with few branches; leaves all submersed, ֎sessile, oblong rounded at tip wavy with ֎fine toothed margins and 3-5 veins; stipule often disintegrating; shallow to deep water of lakes, highly pollution tolerant.

Vine -herbaceous or woody


Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans – poison ivy

Growth form variable: trailing or climbing vine, small shrub, ground cover; leaves ֎alternate, ֎irregularly serrate, ֎trifoliate, dull green, often w/ toothed leaflets, 4-14”; fruit is a cluster of white berries (drupe), Aug-Nov; vines with hair-like projections when growing on tree trunk.
Causes allergic reaction.

Solanum dulcamara

Solanum dulcamara - nightshade

Herbaceous vine; leaves heart-shaped and lobed; often with deep lobes form ֎spade-like appearance; flowers purple or blue; ֎berries red (poisonous); moist soil, wet meadow, swales, stream banks, bogs.

Vitis sp

Vitis sp. - grape

Woody vine; ֎bark shredding and peeling, leaves alternate but often with a tendril opposite the leaf, with ֎grapes.

Shrub -woody


Ilex verticillata

Ilex verticillata – Michigan holly

Deciduous shrub; leaves alternate, ֎acuminate at tip  with numerous fine teeth along margins; dioecious flowers with white petals in late June-early July; ֎fruit a bright red berry (drupe); bogs, swamps, thickets, damp shores, swales, lake and stream margins.

Alnus incana

Alnus incana – speckled alder

Thicket forming shrub up to 15’; leaves simple, dull above, whitened beneath, ֎doubly toothed, with blunt teeth; twigs and young leaves not sticky; male and females flowers separate on same plant, forming catkins; ֎female catkins cone-like and persisting for more than 1 year; male catkins long and flexible.

Sambucus sp

Sambucus sp. – elderberry
Caprifoli-aceae (֎paired flower   moved to Adox-aceae)

Medium to large shrub or small tree to 3m, may from thickets; stems pithy with protruding wart-like lenticels; leaves large, ֎opposite, ֎pinnate divided into 5-11 leaflets; leaflets lancelate or oval in shape tapered to a sharp long tip, ֎sharply forward serrated; leaf base often asymmetrical; flowers small, white, perfect, 5-lobed in large clusters at edge of stem (flat-topped purple berry– S. canadensis; pyramidal red berry – S. racemose); fruit ֎berry-like drupe; July-August; most wet areas. Elderberry extract (Sambucol) is a commonly available flu remedy supported by scientific evidence.

Viburnum sp

Viburnum sp. – viburnum

Medium to tall shrub; ֎opposite leaves, simple; fruit a 1 seeded drupe, typically on a ֎corymb inflorescence.  Commonly planted for their showy flowers, often edible berries, and fall colors.

Cornus sp

Cornus sp. – dogwood

Shrub or small tree; entire leaves usually opposite; ֎leaf veins follow the smooth leaf edges toward the tips; ֎silky sap apparent between veins when leaves are gently broken; twigs often reddish or purple; leaf buds with only 1 pair of scales; flowers 4 petaled with greatly reduced or no calyx, some species with showy bracts; typically very hard wood. 

Rosa palustris

Rosa palustris - marsh rose

Highly branching prickly shrub; leaves with ֎stipules, alternate and ֎pinnately divided into usually seven leaflets; leaflets ֎fine toothed margins; twigs red-brown with ֎paired ֎downward curved ֎deciduous -prickles; ֎flowers single at terminal end of branches, strong ֎hypanthium; fruit round and reddish orange (edible ֎rose-hips) often with 5 sepals remaining; July-August; high prevalence in disturbed wetlands, moist to wet areas, open bogs.

Spirea sp

Spirea sp. - spirea

Shrubs with slender wand-like twigs, narrow based and ֎mostly toothed leaves, lacking stipules, papery bark that often flakes off, and raised leaf scars with only 1 bundle scar; clusters of tiny dry ֎5 parted fruits often are present at twig tips following white or pink flowers; ֎stamen numerous and ֎often longer than petals.

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Cephalanthus occidentalis - buttonbush

Medium shrub; ֎leaves opposite or whorls of 3, 2-3” long, waxy and thick, elliptic, sharp pointed; flowers in ֎spherical ball-like heads at the end of a long stalk in the axils of the upper leaves, whitish in color; shallow marshes and ponds, scrub/shrub, floodplains along streams.

Salix sp

Salix sp. - willow

Shurbs and trees; often difficult to identify to species; ֎leaves alternate, usually lanceolate, ֎typically long and narrow; ֎flowers arranged in catkins; characteristic of stream-banks and moist conditions, floodplains, pond edges, shores; young branches commonly fall and make new individuals. Salicylic acid (aspirin) in the bark of nearly all species throughout the world, you can chew on a young twig (eating large dry bark is undesirable and less effective).  

Tree -woody


Acer rubrum

Acer rubrum – red maple
Acer-aceae (֎palmately lobed with irregular teeth   ֎opposite   ֎winged-paired seeds new name Sapind-aceae)                          

Medium tree 20-60’; leaves ֎opposite 3-5 lobed, ֎toothed, base of terminal lobe wide; twigs and buds reddish; flowers red in spring; lowland, poorly drained deciduous swamps, moist soil, bogs, floodplains, river banks.

Page last modified July 10, 2021