Page author: Don Knoke
Distichlis spicata
alkaline grass, coastal salt grass

Distribution: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, south to California; also along the east coast of the United States from Canada to Florida and Texas.

Habitat: Coastal beaches and salt marshes.

Flowers: June - September

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Dioecious perennials from extensive rhizomes, the culms solid, 10-40 cm. tall, sometimes decumbent and stolonous.


Sheaths open, glabrous; ligules about 0.5 mm. long; blades involute, 2-4 mm. broad, usually glabrous, stiff and sharp-pointed.


Inflorescence a compact panicle 3-8 cm. long; staminate spikelets yellowish, 7- to 16-flowered, strongly compressed; pistillate spikelets greenish, 5- to 9-flowered; first glume 2-2.5 mm. long, the second 1 mm. longer; staminate lemmas membranous, about 6 mm. long, the pistillate lemmas harder and shorter; paleas slightly shorter, with a winged keel 0.1 mm. broad.

Accepted Name:
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene
Publication: Bulletin of the Californis Academy of Sciences 2. 1887.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene ssp. stricta (Torr.) Thorne
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. borealis (J. Presl) Beetle [HC]
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. divaricata Beetle
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. nana Beetle
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. stolonifera Beetle
Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene var. stricta (Torr.) Scribn.
Distichlis stricta (Torr.) Rydb. [HC]
Distichlis stricta (Torr.) Rydb. var. dentata (Rydb.) C.L. Hitchc. [HC]
Distichlis stricta (Torr.) Rydb. var. stricta [HC]
Uniola spicata L.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Distichlis spicata in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Distichlis spicata checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Distichlis spicata information.

E-Flora BC: Distichlis spicata atlas page.

CalPhotos: Distichlis spicata photos.

USDA Plants: Distichlis spicata information.

21 photographs:
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