Distichlis spicata salt grass Poaceae DISP; Bx, pb, sn; Q, a, dp, i, j; K, fs, m, pl; R, am, go, gr, lc, mc, ok, pr, sm;

Distichlis spicata (spike gass). MBGargiullo, edge of saltmarsh, Falmouth, MA, 9/16/2017

Distichlis spicata (spike gass). MBGargiullo, edge of saltmarsh, Falmouth, MA, 9/16/2017

Distichlis spicata is a perennial C4 grass (Downton 1971), 15-40 cm tall; colonial from white, scaly rhizomes, sprawling, stems fine, sheaths overlapping. 

Distichlis spicata leaves. soilcropandmore.info

Distichlis spicata leaves. soilcropandmore.info (Accessed 4/2015).

Leaves initially flat, conspicuously two ranked, stiff, pale, blue-green, 5-15 cm long. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distichlis spicata in bloom .Zihao Wang. Pelham Bay Park.11/2015

Distichlis spicata in bloom .Zihao Wang. Pelham Bay Park.11/2015

Flowers (florets) dry, tiny, papery; glumes (outer scales) and lemmas (inner scale) to about 0.4 cm long; crowded on 4-19 flowered spikelets; inflorescence (spike) congested with 10-20 spikelets, almost cylindrical, 2-8 cm long, persistent into winter, pale tan, male and female flowers on separate plants (dioecious); blooming and fruiting Aug.-Oct. 

Distichlis spicata.in fruit.Richard Payne.Falmouth, MA

Distichlis spicata.in fruit.Richard Payne.Falmouth, MA

Fruit dry, 1-seeded. Seeds eaten by ducks (Martin et al. 1951).

Wetland status: FACW+. 

Frequency in NYC: Occasional. 

Habitat: High salt marshes. Generally not occurring in other habitats. Tolerates fire, salt, intolerant of shade; soil pH 6.4-10.5 (USDA, NRCS 2010). 

Distichlis spicata (spike grass) mixed with Spartina patens. MBGargiullo. Saltmarsh, Falmouth, MA. 9/16/2017

Distichlis spicata (spike grass) mixed with Spartina patens. MBGargiullo. Saltmarsh, Falmouth, MA. 9/16/2017

Notes:. Usually mixed with Spartina patens which is finer, darker green in summer and has reddish color in winter (Gargiullo pers. obs.).