Marsh and Wetland Plants
In general, the plants that “belong” near the lagoon (in the wetlands) are low-growing and salt-tolerant, with floppy stems (not erect) and having special ways of growing in salty soil and of ridding themselves of excess salt.
The following plants are native except where indicated.
Common Name: Pickleweed
Scientific Name: Sarcocornia pacifica
Size/Location: Usually less than a foot and a half tall; spreading
Comments: S. pacifica is a perennial but loses its fleshiness as the tips accumulate excess salt, turn red, and drop off when the plants turns brown and goes dormant in the winter.
Common Name: Alkali Heath
Scientific Name: Frankenia salina
Size/Location: Low-growing; abundant in coastal salt marshes.
Comments: A bushy perennial with small leaves and small but conspicuous fleshy, tubular pink flowers. It has a woody base and a mat-like appearance.
Common Name: Saltgrass
Scientific Name: Distichlis spicata
Size/Location: Throughout; sprawling short stems with wiry stiff spikes for leaves; about 3-4 in tall
Comments: Very common on or near the path (the upper marsh and not right in the water) because it doesn’t like to be wet too much (although it must have salty soil or water).
Common Name: Alakali Weed
Scientific Name:Cressa truxillensis
Size/Location: Small and low-growing in saline and alkaline soils.
Comments: Leaves and stems are gray-green, wooly and soft; hard to see. The white flowers are in the morning-glory family. Can be invasive.
Common Name: Salty Susan
Scientific Name:Jaumea carnosa
Size/Location: Low (less than 6"), spreading perennial, in wet areas.
Comments: Shiny, fleshy leaves on very long stems; found on lagoon-side of the trail. It belongs to the sunflower family but has small inconspicuous flowers. Jaumea is only found in saline habitats.
Common Name: Cat-tail
Scientific Name:Typha spp.
Size/Location: Fresh water edges; tall with narrow grass-like leaves
Comments: Characteristic red-brown cigar-shaped clumps (of female flowers) in late summer. Should not be found in a saltwater lagoon, but present at Batiquitos Lagoon where fresh water comes in. They survive in the lagoon because they can tolerate a little bit of salt and are usually found near the edge with their roots in water but stems and leaves dry.
Common Name: California Bulrush
Scientific Name:Scirpus californicus
Size/Location: Brackish water edges; grows up to 13 feet. Common in coastal marshes.
Comments:. Stems more three-sided than cylindrical. May be confused with cat-tails. Seeds, roots and stems important food for mammals and birds. Do not tolerate seasonal flooding.
Common Name: Spiny Rush
Scientific Name:Juncus acutus
Size/Location:Very stiff, sharp 3-5′ stems from base; usually between trail and water, but above water level
Comments: Statewide endangered plant because that kind of habitat is so often destroyed.
Common Name: Fat Hen
Scientific Name:Atriplex triangularis
Size/Location:With other marsh plants but taller (up to 3 feet)
Comments: Intolerant of prolonged flooding. The leaves are distinctly triangular and pointed and turn red in the late summer and fall. They are thin but feel mealy, not smooth. Non-native.
Common Name: Australian saltbush
Scientific Name:Atriplex semibaccata
Size/Location:Forms low mats near (even on) the trail
Comments:Toothed, gray-green, mealy-feeling leaves and likes alkaline soils. Prostrate (low). Non-native; invasive.
Common Name: Common Tule
Scientific Name:Scirpus acutus
Size/Location:Similar to California bulrush
Comments:Round stiff stems.
Bulrush or Scirpus
Common Name: Bulrush or Scirpus
Scientific Name:Scirpus microcarpus
Size/Location:2-5 feet; wet parts of trail (freshwater)
Comments:Round stem with flat "spikelets" and "flower".
Common Name: Cordgrass
Scientific Name:Spartina foliosa
Size/Location:In water most of the time (not close to trail)
Comments:Recently planted far out on mudflats: hoped to thrive and provide home for Clapper Rails.