Atlantic Coast Marshes. Common vegetation found in Atlantic coast marshes is describ@d briefly
Smooth Cordgrass (Spartina alternaflora). This is the dominant marsh grass from Newfoundland
to about central Florida. It is well adapted to soils not exposed to air that range from coarse sands to silty
clays. Three distinct height forms are recognized. The tall form is generally found along tidal creeks and
drainage channels, the short form grows on flat or gently sloping areas away from channels, and the
medium form, when present, is found in transition areas between stands of the short and tall forms.
Smooth cordgrass can be planted with a better chance of success than any other coastal marsh
species native to the United States. Its ideal salinity range is 10 to 35 parts per thousand (ppt).
Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Spartina patens). This species is extensive in the irregularly flooded high
marsh zone along the Atlantic Coast. It is able to withstand extended periods of both flooding and
drought, growing in spots where the surface drainage is poor and water ponds during rainy periods.
it cannot, however, tolerate the daily flooding of the intertidal zone. Saltmeadow cordgrass is a valuable
stabilizer in the zone between smooth cordgrass and the upland grass species.
Black Needle Rush (,Tuncus roemerianus). This species is extensive along the Atlantic coast
south of New England. It is found in high marshes, where it is flooded only by winddriven tides, or in
areas near the edge of uplands, where freshwater seepage regularly occurs. It is a good stabilizer,
although difficult to propagate, yet under favorable conditions it will invade areas already populated by
Common Reed (Phragmites communes). The common reed grows 4.5 to 12 feee- tall and is
widely distributed in brackish (salinity range 1 to 35 ppt) to freshwater areas above the mean high water
level. It is easy to transplant and provides good stability; however, it does tend to compete with other
plants and may become a nuisance by crowding out more desirable species.
Mangroves. Three species of mangrove--black (Avicennia germinans), red (Rhizophora angle),
and white (Laguncularia racemosa)--occur along the south Atlantic coast, primarily in Florida.
Mangroves are good stabilizers; however, they require considerably more time (2 or 3 years) than grasses
to become established. During this time, the plants are susceptible to possible damage from tides, traffic,
and browsing animals. Mangrove seeds, seedlings, or plants are best planted in mature cordgrass stands,
which provide stability until the mangroves are established.
Gulf Coast Marshes. The vegetation found in gulf coast marshes does not substantially differ
from the south Atlantic coast marshes. Grasses, primarily saltgrass and gulf cordgrass, are prevalent,
while smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow cordgrass, and black needle rush are also common.
Gulf Cordgrass (Spartina spartinae). Gulf cordgrass is found along the gulf coast from southwest
Louisiana to Texas. The plant performs best above the mean high water level, and it is propagated like
Saltgrass (Distichlis spicata). Saltgrass is generally limited to the more saline, high marshes
along the gulf coast. The plant is usually found in a mixture with saltmeadow cordgrass or black needle