Plants play a key role in the accumulation of metals in contaminated environment. Ephemeral plants, such as cyperus vaginatus, from the family Cyperaceae have been used in constructed wetlands to alter the biogeochemistry of waterlogged soils. High elemental content in wetlands often induces chemical changes in the root, stem and leaf of wetland plants. Elemental uptake and possible chemical changes in the roots of Cyperus vaginatus was investigated and compared with plants grown away from the wetland. Among the 9 heavy metals (Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb) and metalloid (As) measured, with the exception of Mn, all metals had higher content in the plant roots grown within the wetland. This was followed by plants grown near to the wetland that receive stormwater occasionally and then plants grown far from the wetland. The 3-D fluorescence spectra record showed notable differences in the chemical composition of roots grown in the three locations. The spectra combined with parallel factor analysis showed three dominant fluorescence components. Comparison of the fluorescence signatures showed a continuum of spectral properties constrained by the degree of metal contamination.