Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene

saltgrass

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Saltgrass is very widely distributed in North America, where it tolerates a wide range of habitat types. Wthin New England, saltgrass is restricted to coastal dunes and salt marshes.

Habitat

Marshes

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
Leaf blade width
1–4 mm
Inflorescence branches
  • the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
  • there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
Spikelet length
6–28 mm
Glume relative length
neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has no awn
One or more florets
there is more than one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
0 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Leaf ligule length
Up to 1 mm
Anther length
3–4 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    3–4 mm
    Anther number
    0–3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has no awn
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is thin and flexible
    Floret types within spikelet
    • NA
    • there are at least two distinct forms of florets within one spikelet
    Glume relative length
    neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
    Glume veins
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    • 7 or more
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branches
    • the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    • there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
    Inflorescence length
    10–60 mm
    Inflorescence type (general)
    • the inflorescence is a spike, or is spike-like, lacking obvious branches
    • the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence is branched, and the branches do NOT both grow from the same side of the plant AND look like spikes
    Lemma awn base
    NA
    Lemma awn length
    0 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has no awn
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is V-shaped if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    Lemma vein number
    7 or more
    One or more florets
    there is more than one floret per spikelet
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant have only carpels, or all the flowers have only stamens, but not both (dioecious)
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is an extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet length
    6–28 mm
    Spikelet pedicel
    the spikelets have pedicels
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest at or below the middle
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf blade width
    1–4 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    Up to 1 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane with fine hairs
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hair type
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    marshes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow singly or a few together (they may form diffuse colonies)

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Synonyms

  • Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. borealis (J. Presl) Beetle
  • Uniola spicata L.

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Distichlis

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene N

saltgrass. Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. borealis (J. Presl) Beetle; Uniola spicata L. 
• CT, MA, ME, NH, RI; coastal counties. Saline marshes and shores.