grasses

by studiojane

lets start with getting some  smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora

maybe can be found here:  http://www.grownativemass.org/resources/nurseries

here is a very interesting description of hte birth of a salt marsh
A salt marsh is “born” by the arrival of a seed or the rafting of a plant of the cord grass Spartina alterniflora. The grass spreads asexually by means of a subterranean rhizome system. The grass becomes dense and forms a baffle, which encourages the deposition of fine particulate sediment, including organic matter (salt marsh peat). This, in effect, causes a rise of the sediment surface and makes the habitat more terrestrial. As this happens, other somewhat less salt-tolerant grasses are able to invade. Eventually, this series of invasions and takeovers leads to a vertical zonation of grasses and a spread of the entire marsh system.

 

here is a plant list for coastal massachusetts which gives other options

 

more on this:  from wikipedia

Tidal flooding and vegetation zonation

An Atlantic coastal salt marsh in Connecticut.

Coastal salt marshes can be distinguished from terrestrial habitats by the daily tidal flow that occurs and continuously floods the area.[1] It is an important process in delivering sediments, nutrients and plant water supply to the marsh.[5] At higher elevations in the upper marsh zone, there is much less tidal inflow, resulting in lower salinity levels.[1] Soil salinity in the lower marsh zone is fairly constant due to everyday annual tidal flow. However, in the upper marsh, variability in salinity is shown as a result of less frequent flooding and climate variations. Rainfall can reduce salinity and evapotranspiration can increase levels during dry periods.[1] As a result, there are microhabitats populated by different species of flora and fauna dependant on their physiological abilities. The flora of a salt marsh is differentiated into levels according to the plants’ individual tolerance of salinity and water table levels. Vegetation found at the water must be able to survive high salt concentrations, periodical submersion, and a certain amount of water movement, while plants further inland in the marsh can sometimes experience dry, low-nutrient conditions. It has been found that the upper marsh zones limit species through competition and the lack of habitat protection, while lower marsh zones are determined through the ability of plants to tolerate physiological stresses such as salinity, water submergence and low oxygen levels.[12][13]

The New England salt marsh is subject to strong tidal influences and shows distinct patterns of zonation.[13] In low marsh areas with high tidal flooding, a monoculture of the smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora dominate, then heading landwards, zones of the salt hay, Spartina patens, black rush, Juncus gerardii and the shrub Iva frutescens are seen respectively.[12] These species all have different tolerances that make the different zones along the marsh best suited for each individual.

Plant species diversity is relatively low, since the flora must be tolerant of salt, complete or partial submersion, and anoxic mud substrate. The most common salt marsh plants are glassworts (Salicornia spp.) and the cordgrass (Spartina spp.), which have worldwide distribution. They are often the first plants to take hold in a mudflat and begin its ecological succession into a salt marsh. Their shoots lift the main flow of the tide above the mud surface while their roots spread into the substrate and stabilize the sticky mud and carry oxygen into it so that other plants can establish themselves as well. Plants such as sea lavenders (Limonium spp.), plantains (Plantago spp.), and varied sedges and rushes grow once the mud has been vegetated by the pioneer species.

Salt marshes are quite photosynthetically active and are extremely productive habitats. They serve as depositories for a large amount of organic matter and are full of decomposition, which feeds a broad food chain of organisms from bacteria to mammals. Many of the halophytic plants such as cordgrass are not grazed at all by higher animals but die off and decompose to become food for micro-organisms, which in turn become food for fish and birds.

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