through the seasons
By Joey Holleman
Sporobolus alterniflorus (formerly Spartina alterniflora), the common smooth cordgrass that dominates coastal marshes in the southeastern United States changes from month to month. Follow along on a journey through a year in the marsh.
January: Just for fun, let’s start with snow and ice on the stalks
February: Old stalks breaking off to create detritus
March: Lots of brown, with a little green at the base
April: More green taking the place of brown stalks
May: Whoa! Green stalks take over the marsh
June: Just a trace of brown peeking out above the green
July: The entire marsh has become a sea of healthy green
August: Taller, thicker, and maybe even a little greener
September: Green stalks are beginning to flower
It’s hard to see from a distance, so here’s a close-up view of a flowering stalk.
October: More flowering stalks popping up above a sea of green
November: Trees still mostly green, Sporobolus golden brown
December: Stalks turn dull brown, and weaker ones fall
Sporobolus alterniflorus grows in the intertidal zone and provides cover for waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds, plus habitat for commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish. At S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, we appreciate Sporobolus alterniflorus throughout the year!
From Seeds to Shoreline® (S2S) is South Carolina’s only salt marsh restoration program designed for students. The program trains K-12 teachers how to lead their classroom in a year-long marsh restoration.