Zostera marina L.

eel-grass, seawrack

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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

Eel-grass is one of the most important marine plants. Eel-grass meadows serve as nurseries for many marine vertebrates, as well as micro- and macro-invertebrates. Because of this, and because it also helps stabilize the substrate, it is often used in marine habitat restoration. It is also used for packing material, and as food.

Habitat

Intertidal, subtidal or open ocean

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
Leaf position
the leaves are all submerged underwater
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade length
300–1100 mm
Petal or sepal number
there are no petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower, or they are not clearly present
Petal color
NA
Specific leaf type
the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
Floating leaf shape
NA
Underwater leaf blade width
2–12 mm
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Underwater leaf length
Up to 1100 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Turion length
    0 mm
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    there is a noticeable pink, reddish or purplish tint to the anthers
    Anther length
    1 mm
    Carpels fused
    the carpel is solitary or (if 2 or more) the carpels are not fused to one another
    Flower lower lip length
    0 mm
    Flower number
    1–20
    Flower position
    the flowers are below the surface of the water
    Flower symmetry
    NA
    Inflorescence length
    20–80 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a spike (a long unbranched stem with flowers along it that lack stalks)
    Length of flower stalk
    0 mm
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    0–2
    Ovary position
    NA
    Palate on corolla
    NA
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes neither petals nor sepals
    Petal appearance
    NA
    Petal color
    NA
    Petal fringed edges
    NA
    Petal fusion
    NA
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    NA
    Petal length
    0 mm
    Petal number
    0
    Petal or sepal number
    there are no petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower, or they are not clearly present
    Pistil number
    • 0
    • 1
    Sepal appearance
    NA
    Sepal length
    0 mm
    Sepal number
    0
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    NA
    Spur length
    0 mm
    Stamen length
    4–5 mm
    Stamen number
    • 0
    • 1 or 2
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not fused to one another
    Stamens fused to petals
    • NA
    • the stamens are not fused to the petals or tepals
    Style length
    1–3 mm
    Style number
    0–2
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit beak length
    1–2 mm
    Fruit length
    3–4 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a drupe (fleshy, with a firm inner ovary wall that encloses a single seed)
  • Glands or sap
    Oil glands on nodes
    none of the nodes have oil glands
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots do not have transverse septa
    Roots floating in water
    there are no clusters of roots floating in the water
    Turions
    there are no turions on the plant
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Bract relative length
    At least 3854 mm
    Bracts
    neither the flowers nor their pedicels have bracts
    Floating leaf basal lobes
    NA
    Floating leaf blade width
    0 mm
    Floating leaf length
    0 mm
    Floating leaf shape
    NA
    Floating leaf tip
    NA
    Floral bract form
    NA
    Floral bract length
    0 mm
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade length
    300–1100 mm
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are parallel or slightly arched in the direction of the tip
    Leaf blade width
    2–12 mm
    Leaf position
    the leaves are all submerged underwater
    Leaf special features
    none of the mentioned special features are present
    Leaf-like branch segments
    0
    Leaf-like branch shape
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
    Staminate bract edge (Myriophyllum)
    NA
    Stipule appearance
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
    Stipules fused around stem
    NA
    Trap-bladder length
    0 mm
    Underwater leaf blade edges
    • the underwater leaf blade edges are toothed
    • the underwater leaf has smooth edges, without teeth
    Underwater leaf blade shape
    the underwater leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Underwater leaf blade veins
    5–11
    Underwater leaf blade width
    2–12 mm
    Underwater leaf length
    Up to 1100 mm
    Underwater leaf stalk
    no
    Underwater leaf stalk length
    0 mm
    Underwater leaf tip shape
    • the tip of the underwater leaf is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    • the tip of the underwater leaf is rounded, with no point
    Veins in floating leaf
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    intertidal, subtidal or open ocean
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem is upright

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

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.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. stenophylla

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Zostera marina var. stenophylla Aschers. & Graebn.

Family

Zosteraceae

Genus

Zostera

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Zostera marina L. N

eel-grass. Zostera marina L. var. stenophylla Aschers. & Graebn. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI; coastal areas. Shallow saline water of the Atlantic Ocean, mostly in sheltered bays and inlets.