Saltmarsh plants

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Saltmarsh develops when plants that can tolerate salt water become established on the sediment that builds up near the shore. Saltmarsh forms a buffer between the sea and the shore, moderating the force of the tides, and also serves as a nursery for a wide range of aquatic life.

Glasswort, also known as marsh samphire, is one of the earliest plants to colonise, often accompanied by annual seablite, helping the saltmarsh to grow by stabilising and trapping the sediment.

As the sediment builds up, other, less salt-tolerant plants are able to colonise. One of the most spectacular of these is sea lavender, which turns large areas lilac-lavender in late summer.

Sea purslane and sea wormwood grow on the drier parts of the saltmarsh, such as on the banks of creeks.

© Tony Gunton