The Assateague

Picture Saltmarsh Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora)

Taller than saltmeadow cordgrass and with flat, smooth blades, saltmarsh cordgrass grows along the sides of guts (marsh creeks) and in places flooded by the tides. Cordgrasses are able to survive in areas flooded by salt water because of the regulatory system they have developed that excretes unneeded salt on the leaf edges.

The root system of saltmarsh cordgrass helps stabilize the marsh mud. Besides securing a habitat for other plants and animals, cordgrass is a major component in the diet of the island's ponies and deer.

Around the guts (see Toms Cove photo) and in the wettest areas, you'll find the upper part of the shells of ribbed mussels projecting from the mud. These "filter feeders" attach themselves by means of a strong thread to the marsh grass to withstand the pull of the tides.

The photo was taken near Toms Cove (map).

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