Nine Mile Run Greenway Project
Stream Remediation Workshop
A Study of Nine Mile Run
Riparian Plants
Compiled by Choli Lightfoot and Amy Marino

For a complete index of riparian plant which current inhabit Nine Mile Run, click here.
Photo by Bob Bingham

The Role of Streamside Vegetation

Streamside vegetation plays a critical role in protecting streambanks and providing vital habitat for aquatic and semi-aquatic animals. The type of vegetation present also is important for streambank stability and as food for wildlife. Streamside vegetation provides many important functions for the stream, fish and wildlife. Trees and woody vegetation draw water from the streambanks; this helps to dewater the banks and improve their stability. In addition, tree roots that hang from the streambanks provide places for fish and other animals to hide from predators. Leaves falling from trees provide food for some aquatic insect larvae. Trees also provide shade for the stream, keeping water temperatures cooler. Cool water holds more dissolved oxygen.

 Vegetation growing alongside the stream and in its floodplain buffer the stream from runoff pollution. According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, a forested buffer as narrow as 50 feet can remove the majority of nitrogen and phosphorus from surface and subsurface runoff.

 Source: Firehock, Karen & Doherty, Jaqueline; "A Citizen's Streambank Reclamation Handbook"; Save Our Streams Program, Izaak Walton League of America, Inc.; Gaithersburg, MD, 1995

A typical stream or area is divided into 6 zones, as shown in the image below. In looking at the riparian plants of the Nine Mile Run area we focused on plants of Zone 3: Shoreline fringe and Zone 4: Riparian fringe.

Zone 3: Shoreline fringe
Plants in this zone must be able to withstand being inundated during storms and drying during drier periods.

Zone 4: Riparian Fringe
Plants in this zone must be able to tolerate both wet and dry soil as well as periodic inundation.

A long strip of riparian forset persists along much of the stream corridor, and is colored green in this map. A variety of native and non-native species flourish in this riparian corridor.
Documented Riparian Plants in Nine Mile Run