Salt Marsh

Habitat: Salt Marsh
Salt Marsh on Pea Isand by Cindy Heffley
The Salt Marsh community occurs on the margins of sounds, estuaries, and other coastal waters. Salt marsh occurs on the landward side of barrier island systems in areas under tidal influence. Although the community is not dependent upon diurnal tide cycles, it does require periodic flooding by water with a moderate salinity level. Smooth cordgrass dominates the salt marsh community. Although overall plant species diversity is low, black needlerush, salt grass, or saltmeadow grass dominates areas that are slightly higher in elevation. Other plant species may include seashore mallow, Virginia saltwort, swamp rose mallow, and bald spikerush or fimbry. Although the salt marsh community occurs on the refuge, it is most prevalent in the middle and southern portions of the North Carolina coast. The salt marsh community may transition into brackish marsh, or it can become an estuarine channel mud flat. It can also undergo a conversion into a salt flat or salt shrub community, depending upon changes in environmental conditions. The refuge staff manages the salt marshes with prescribed fire at a 3- to 5-year frequency to maintain herbaceous vegetative cover and suppress succession to woody vegetation.

Facts About Salt Marsh

Typical Plants: 

  • black needlerush
  • salt grass
  • saltmeadow grass
  • seashore mallow
  • Virginia saltwort
  • swamp rose mallow
  • bald spikerush
  • fimbry