Spartina alterniflora

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Cordgrass at Oregon Inlet

Saltmarsh Cordgrass - Spartina alterniflora

Habitat Salt marshes, primarily along the borders of creeks

Range From Quebec to central Florida; also central Florida to Texas on Gulf Coast

Description Leaves are flat, smooth, and tough; up to 2 in long and alternating spikelets. Flowers: minute with greenish-white blossoms in clusters on the flowering head; found primarily in August.

Ecological Notes The dominant salt marsh plant. Saltmarsh Cordgrass height is variable depending on zone in the salt marsh it is located. The shorter form grows at upper tidal levels and seldom flowers . Spartina are a weak competitor; tend to reside more near the water due to their shallow and loosely packed roots (able to survive in anoxic soils). Good osmoconformer.

Personal Information We found the salt marsh much more interesting than anticipated. There was an abundance of Littoraria and mussels using the Spartina as a habitat.

Journal Articles For information on how Spartina alterniflora can be characterized as an invasive species, see: Wang Q (Wang Qing), An SQ (An Shu-Qing), Ma ZJ (Ma Zhi-Jun), Zhao B (Zhao Bin), Chen JK (Chen Jia- Kuan), Li B (Li Bo). (2008). Invasive Spartina alterniflora: biology, ecology and management. ACTA PHYTOTAXONOMICA SINICA, 44 (5), 559-588.

To better understand the zonation of Spartina alterniflora and other salt marsh plants, refer to: Pennings SC, Grant MB, Bertness MD. (2005). Plant zonation in low-latitude salt marshes: disentangling the roles of flooding, salinity and competition. JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, 93 (1), 159-167.

Contributed by Savannah Frank - 2008

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