Biodiversity & Conservation

Puccinellia maritima salt marsh community



Image Kathy Duncan - Puccinellia maritima salt marsh. Image width ca 5 m.
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Distribution map

LS.LMU.Sm.SM13 recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

Text page icon Habitat description

Map icon Distribution of biotope in Britain and Ireland Puccinellia maritima dominated communities are widespread in saltmarsh habitats around the British Isles but are replaced by the Puccinellia maritima turf fucoid sub-community in western Scotland and Northern Ireland (Rodwell, 2000).
National importance Not available

Text page icon Description of biotope

For a full description of this biotope including characterizing species, distribution, survey information and references visit JNCC

Muds, silts, clays and muddy sands of high organic content and saline influence routinely inundated by the sea support vascular salt marsh plant communities dominated by dense tufts or hummocks Puccinellia maritima. These habitats typically occur in sheltered conditions of estuaries and bays. Puccinellia maritima dominated communities may also be pioneer communities, forming on lower shore muds, on the fallen edges of saltmarsh, on the edges of creeks or pans, and in recently disturbed areas of saltmarsh, such as the ruts left by vehicles or grazing animals. Isolated swards may occur in the higher marsh in disturbed or slumped areas. Up to six plant sub-communities can be recognised (Rodwell, 2000) but sea milkwort Glaux maritima, common sea lavender Limonium vulgare, thrift Armeria maritima, sea plantain Plantago maritima, the sea aster Aster tripolium are common associated species. Glassworts Salicornia spp. occurs in lower marsh examples and small cord grass Spartina maritima may occur occasionally. Filamentous algae such as Rhizoclonium sp. and Vaucheria sp. may form a mat on the sediment surface and around the stems of plants together with the blue green algae Rivularia nitida. Fucoids such as Ascophyllum nodosum ecad mackaii, Fucus vesiculosus and Pelvetia canaliculata form an understorey in the Puccinellia maritima turf fucoid sub-community found in western Scotland and northern Ireland. The resident fauna varies depending on shore height becoming more marine in the lower marsh and more terrestrial in origin towards the higher marsh. The annelid Hediste diversicolor, the bivalve Macoma balthica and especially the amphipod Corophium volutator and the mud snail Hydrobia ulvae may be abundant in the pioneer zone. Invertebrates of the mid and higher marsh are primarily terrestrial and include plant sucking aphids, other true bugs (Hemiptera), thrips (Thysanoptera), flies (Diptera), butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera). [NB biotope description composed by author.]

Additional information icon Additional information

The literature on saltmarsh habitats is extensive and it would be impossible to include all available information in this review. Therefore, the following review is based on more extensive reviews and texts to which the reader is directed for further information (Ranwell, 1972; Long & Mason, 1983; Adam, 1993; Packham & Willis; 1997; Rodwell, 2000). However, little of the information found examines the Puccinellia maritima community separately and most examines the saltmarsh as a whole. Wherever possible specific references have been used and cited (e.g. Gray & Scott, 1977a,b).

This review can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters, H. 2004. Puccinellia maritima salt marsh community. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 26/11/2015]. Available from: <>