Spartina alterniflora; Spartina patens
Image by Dana Filippini and Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Physical: S. alterniflora is a smooth grass that averages from 3 to 6 feet in height. S. patens is smaller, ranging from 12 to 18 inches. Flowers and fruits are located on only one side of the stalk in both plants.
Habitat: S. alterniflora is found in the low marsh areas along the bay, while S. patens thrives on the high marsh. The roots of S. alterniflora help to keep the banks of its habitat held together. S. patens is usually found with spikegrass.
Feeding: Canada geese consume S. alternifloras rootstalks as a major part of there winter diet along the shore. The seeds of both grasses are eaten by marsh birds. Many small estuarine animals feed off of the detritus from the decaying grasses.
Breeding: Reproduction occurs through the spread of seeds from the flowers and fruits of both S. alterniflora and S. patens. S. patens flowers from June through September. S. alterniflora flowers from July through October. They both also spread through rhizomes.
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