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Distichlis spicata

Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, New Providence, Bahamas, 2012

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also butterfly gardens in saline areas along the coast.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A somewhat sporadic element of tidal marshes. The similar looking Sporobolus virginicus is much more common in South Florida.

Availability: Grown by one or two native plant nurseries in South Florida.

Description: Small herbaceous grass.

Dimensions: About 4-8 inches in height; to 12 inches when in flower. Spreading from underground stems (rhizomes) and forming large patches.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Widespread in North America south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Tidal marshes.

Soils: Wet to moist, regularly inundated saline soils.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: High; tolerates flooding by salt water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.

Light Requirements: Full sun.

Flower Color: Gray-green inflorescence.

Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous.

Flowering Season: All year; peak spring-fall.

Fruit: Inconspicuous light brown caryopsis.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides food for birds. Larval host plant for obscure skipper (Panoquina panoquinoides) and saltmarsh skipper (Panoquina panoquin) butterflies.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed or divisions.

References: Nelson 2003

Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, New Providence, Bahamas, 2012

Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, New Providence, Bahamas, 2012

Copyright by: Susan Trammell

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Other data on Distichlis spicata available from:

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