A Look At Tidal Wetlands
Let’s take a walk into a local salt marsh. We’ll enter by water and walk to the maritime forest.
Much of the lower marsh is dominated by saltmarsh cordgrass (spartina alterniflroa).
Dark areas in the cordgrass are often signs of black needlerush(Juncus sp.).
Now that you have your glasses on, take a look at the ground • There are many things to see!
Do you know what made all these holes? Marsh Fiddler Crabs
Notice anything around this hole? Muskrat tracks
Notice anything here? Marsh Periwinkle or Snail
A coastal marsh will often contain many drainage guts. • These guts can be narrow or wide. • They can be shallow or deep. • They are the roadways for many of the marine species like fish and crabs to enter the marsh.
Can you name this visitor to the gut? It’s a Rail
Can you think of any marsh animals that might use this natural bridge?
The transition between the lower and upper marsh can be quite distinct!
Saltmeadow cordgrass and Saltgrass together form “Salthay”. • Saltmeadow cordgrass or Spartina patens is usually the more common of the two. • Saltgrass or Distichlis sp. can be distiguished from S. patens by the close in branching found on the saltgrass.
Take a look under the top layer of the Salthay. • What type of animals would you expect to live under the Salthay? • The Meadow Mole lives here.
Along the edges of the upper marsh you may also find sedges. • Scirpus is the genus of the three-squares. • They have solid stems which are triangular in cross section.
Salt pans form when areas of the marsh are covered by wrack. • Wrack is made up of the organic material of the marsh and other areas.
Salt pans form when areas of the marsh are covered by wrack. • This organic materials collects during storms or other high tide events.
Salt pans form when areas of the marsh are covered by wrack. • This wrack then“smothers” the flora underneath and leaves a baron depression.
Salt often collects in these depressions due to evaporation. • Because of the increased salinity, halophilic plants like saltwort or pickleweed (Salicornia) usually dominate in the pans.
Marsh Elder (Iva) and Groundsel Tree (Baccharis) dominate this area. • Baccharis is a robust shrub with alternate leaves. • This shrub may grow to a height of 15 feet.
Marsh Elder (Iva) and Groundsel Tree (Baccharis) dominate this area. • Ivais found in the same areas and has opposite deciduous leaves. • This bush seldom grows over 10 feet tall.
Big Cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides) and Giant Reed (Phragmites communis) are often found in this area as well as other patches throughout the marsh.
Phragmites or Common Reed • This reed is a familiar invader of marshy areas. • It grows to over 12 feet high.
Phragmites or Common Reed • Common reed becomes established via seeds, but spreads by rhizoids.
Phragmites or Common Reed • The brown, feathery head and the smooth blades are a distinguishing feature of this marsh reed.
Big Cordgrass • This is another tall grass that can be confused with Common Reed at first glance.
Big Cordgrass • It also grows to over 12 feet and is found in the same areas as the Common or Giant Reed.
Big Cordgrass • Its “open” head and tapering leaves with upturned minute teeth on their margins are the clues you need to know the difference.
Welcome to the Upland Zone Maritime Forest
At first glance this area appears to be dominated by Loblolly Pines.
Other plants can be found here. • Can you name this common plant of the Upland Zone? If you touch it, you might need an ocean of Calamine Lotion.