Lonard, R.I.; Judd, F.W., and Stalter, R., 2013. The biological flora of coastal dunes and wetlands: Distichlis spicata (C. Linnaeus) E. Greene.
Distichlis spicata (C. Linnaeus) E. Greene is a New World temperate-, subtropical-, and tropical-zone rhizomatous, dioecious grass. It is an important species in coastal salt marshes, brackish marshes, and tidal wetlands, where it is often a dominant species. Inland ecotypes of this taxon occur in wet alkaline sites throughout temperate regions of the United States, Mexico, and South America. Distichlis spicata often occurs in wetlands, where total soluble salts seasonally range from about 20 to 43 ppt and where the pH varies from 5 to 7. Higher salinities in the rhizome–root matrix reduce shoot growth more than root growth. Also known as salt grass, D. spicata is a clonal stress tolerator that spreads laterally into disturbed sites in the upper marsh, and it recovers quickly from burial by wrack debris after storms. A typical water level range for salt grass is from 10 to 15 cm below to 5 cm above the marsh surface, but it can tolerate tidal amplitudes ranging from 1.36 to 1.74 m for 1 hour on some coastlines. Pistillate plants typically dominate lower elevations in tidal marshes, whereas higher elevations in marshes support populations dominated by male plants. Herein, we present a review of the biology of this important species.