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Sea and shore grasses

Smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and Black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus) are the two dominant plant species that grow along our estuarine shorelines. They grow in the area where the water level fluctuates during high and low tides or the “intertidal zone."  They can be distinguished because the needlerush is slightly darker than the cordgrass and needlerush has sharp points. Generally the cordgrass will grow farther out into the water while the needlerush grows more toward shore.

These plants serve several extremely important functions. They provide habitat for many different species of crabs, shrimp and juvenile fish as well as naturally absorbing wave energy before it meets the shoreline and causes erosion. These plants also improve water quality by helping to filter sediments from the water column.

For various reasons there are areas along the shoreline that lack this important native vegetation. We often see the impacts of this where the shoreline becomes severely eroded, endangering property, sidewalks, and even roads.

Visti FWC's Seagrass Integrated Mapping and Monitoring Program for more information.

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