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Zostera marina

Zostera marina L.

Seawrack, Eelgrass

Zosteraceae (Eel-Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Zostera marina var. latifolia, Zostera marina var. stenophylla, Zostera pacifica


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

This grasslike marine herb is a seed plant, its leaves stream with the current.

Neither a seaweed nor an algae, Eelgrass is a true seed plant that has evolved an ability to live in saline waters. Currents distribute both pollen and the small fruit; propagation also occurs by means of rhizomes underneath the mud or sand. Unlike marine algae, it offers no resistance to attaching organisms, so the outer half of each blade usually is coated with a wide variety of very small marine plants and animals. Eelgrass beds are havens for scallops, crabs, and many fishes.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Leaf blades up to about 4 feet long.
Fruit: Achene-like.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Flowers inconspicuous.


USA: AK , AL , CA , CT , DE , FL , MA , MD , ME , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OR , RI , VA , WA
Canada: NB , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Greenland to Florida.
Native Habitat: Shallow bays and coves, tidal creeks, estuaries.

Growing Conditions

Aquatic: yes

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.

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-05-25
Research By: TWC Staff

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