BaySave Corporation

BaySave is a non-profit corporation based in Money Island, New Jersey focused on advocacy and restoration of our tidal wetlands.

Beach Grass profiles

These profiles of the beach grasses found in Money Island New Jersey were compiled from information on Wikipedia and USDA publications. Our 2" grass plugs came from Pinelands Nursery in Columbus New Jerseys, a wholesale nursery. We offer small qualities of these grass plugs for $2.00 each plus delivery. Write to ask about availability.

We expect to update this page next season with our own photos and experiences from our own planting and re-cultivation experience.

Smooth or Saltmarsh Cordgrass Smooth Cordgrass

Spartina alterniflora

Smooth cordgrass forms a dominant part of intertidal wetlands, salt marshes and brackish coastal saltmarshes throughout most of North and South America. The roots are an important food resource for Snow Geese.

It grows 3 to 5 feet tall, and has smooth, hollow stems which bear leaves about 12 inches long and 3/4 inch wide at their base, which are sharply tapered and bend down at their tips. Like its relative Saltmeadow Cordgrass, it produces flowers and seeds on only one side of the stalk. The flowers are a yellowish-green, turning brown by the winter. It has rhizoidial roots, which, when broken off, can result in vegetative asexual growth.

This beach grass is noted for its capacity to act as an environmental engineer. It grows out into the water at the seaward edge of a salt marsh, and accumulates sediment and enables other habitat-engineering species, such as mussels, to settle. This accumulation of sediment and other substrate-building species gradually builds up the level of the land at the seaward edge, and other, higher-marsh species move onto the new land. As the marsh accretes, S. alterniflora moves still further out to form a new edge. S. alterniflora grows in tallest forms at the outermost edge of a given marsh, displaying shorter morphologies up onto the landward side.

Saltmeadow cordgrass

Spartina patens

Saltmeadow cordgrass marshes serve as pollution filters and as buffers against flooding and shoreline erosion. Best known as salt marsh hay, it can be found in marshlands throughout most of the Americas. It is a hay-like grass found in the upper areas of brackish coastal salt marshes. It is a slender and wiry plant that grows in thick mats 30-60 cm high, green in spring and summer, and turns light brown in late fall and winter. The stems are wispy and hollow, and the leaves roll inward and appear round. Because its stems are weak, the wind and water action can bend the grass, creating the appearance of a field of tufts and cowlicks. Saltmeadow cordgrass produces flowers and seeds on only one side of the stalk. Flowers are a deep purple from June to October and turn brown in the winter months. Saltmeadow cordgrass is found in high marsh zones where it is covered at times by high tides. Specialized cells are able to exclude salt from entering the roots, preventing the loss of fresh water.

This grass is less tolerant of saltwater than some other marsh grasses. A healthy salt marsh depends on the presence of plants such as salt hay grass and smooth cordgrass. These grasses provide rich habitat for crustaceans, mollusks, and birds, and serve as a major source of organic nutrients for the entire estuary. Mats of salt hay grass are inhabited by many small animals and are an important food source for ducks and Seaside Sparrows.

Coastal Panic Grass  Coastal Panic grass

Panicum amarum

This beach grass has a deep fibrous root system which has made it a top choice for secondary sand dune stabilization in the mid-Atlantic states and developing vegetative wind barriers. Due to its hedges form and winter persistence, coastal panicgrass is popular for wildlife cover on sandy coastal soils and reclaimed mine lands. It is also useful as a primary stabilizer of very well or excessively drained sites, such as gravel pits, dikes, and road bank cuts and fills. This grass is deep rooted (+6 feet), robust, long lived where hardy, and grows to heights of 3 to 6 feet. This is a U.S. native grass. The stems may be as thick as 1/2 inch, with bluish green leaves from 8 to 20 inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Although coastal panicgrass grows faster than most warm season grasses, it is slower than cool season grasses. Producing short outwardly spreading rhizomes, it forms clumps or bunches. Like most other species in the genus Panicum, coastal panicgrass has a large terminal inflorescence. It is a tightly arranged, densely flowered cluster. Seed dispersal is the primary means of reproduction of this species.

It will perform well on dry, sandy sites. When established on sand dunes it will only survive where other species have initially stabilized the location. It will tolerate moderate saline overspray, and pH as low as 5.0. It does not tolerate large deposits of sand. It is the only species known to be successfully established on mid-Atlantic sand dunes by direct seeding. according to a USDA publication at http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_paama2.pdf

Cape American Beach Grass Cape American Beach Grass

Ammophila breviligulata

Also know as American Beach grass or Cape American Beach Grass. Most people simply know it as "dune grass" A very vigorous grower this grass has been used to stabilize dunes all over the East Coast. This plant thrives in a beach environment often putting roots down to 18". As it's name suggests it is found in the dunes above the high tide mark. Cape American Beach Grass is typically planted when it is dormant. The typical dormancy period is Mid October to Mid April. After this period the success rate of planting dormant culms is very low. Therefore it is recommended that plugs be used instead of the culms from May until October. While there are many strains of American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata), the Cape strain was selected for use after the hurricane of 1938 wiped out much of the dune grass on the Eastern Seaboard. After the hurricane several researchers came to Cape Cod where they discovered the Cape American strain proliferating on the Sandy Neck Area of Cape Cod Bay. This cultivar was found to be very hardy, very vigorous and thick stemmed - ideal for use to quickly restore the sand dunes that were eroded along the Atlantic coast.

Little bluestem or Beard Grass Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium

Little Bluestem is the most abundant grass in America found in 45 states is the official state grass of Nebraska and Kansas. It grows to a height of about 3 feet, has a blue tint in the spring, and then turns red in the fall into the next spring. It is used in recreational areas, golf courses, roadsides, and as a wildlife habitat.

Broomsedge Broomsedge

Andropogon virginicus

A perennial grass that forms clumps in many pastures, hay fields, and abandoned fields throughout the eastern half of the United States.