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Distichlis spicata (Saltgrass)
Romfh, Peggy

Distichlis spicata

Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene

Saltgrass, Coastal Salt Grass, Inland Salt-grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Distichlis spicata ssp. stricta, Distichlis spicata var. borealis, Distichlis spicata var. divaricata, Distichlis spicata var. nana, Distichlis spicata var. stolonifera, Distichlis spicata var. stricta, Distichlis stricta, Distichlis stricta var. dentata, Uniola spicata


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I), CAN (N)

This rigid, erect, warm-season grass forms dense colonies of dark-green, leafy stems, up to 3 ft. high. The seed head is short and made up of large, smooth spikelets. Coastal salt grass is a perennial.


From the Image Gallery

23 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Panicle
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AL , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DE , FL , GA , HI , IA , ID , IL , KS , LA , MA , MD , ME , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TX , UT , VA , WA , WI , WY
Canada: NB , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Sask. to e. WA, s. to TX & CA
Native Habitat: Alkali flats; saline marshes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Wet, saline or alkaline soils.
Conditions Comments: This species is useful for revegetating unusually saline, interior areas. Its extensive, creeping rhizomes enable it to colonize an area quickly. The grass adapts to drier soils including silts, clays, and even sands.


Use Food: Native Americans obtained salt by eating globules adhering to saltgrass stems.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti)

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Alkali Skipper
(Pseudocopaeodes eunus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Salt Marsh Skipper
(Panoquina panoquin)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Wandering Skipper
(Panoquina errans)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Sandhill Skipper
(Polites sabuleti)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Seed germination is limited.
Seed Treatment: Highest germination seems to come with 50 degree night and 105 degree day temperature regimes.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

When to plant grasses on Long Island, NY
December 06, 2009
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; Are there any grass seeds that I can plant NOW, early December, on Long Island, NY? The planting environment is on and near a sandy bluff on a bayshore, where it can be windy ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Additional resources

USDA: Find Distichlis spicata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Distichlis spicata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Distichlis spicata


Record Modified: 2014-10-02
Research By: TWC Staff

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