This is a list of the most common native plants you are likely to encounter in a central and northern California tidal marsh.

Salt Marsh

California Native
Plant Palettes

Lower Tidal Zone

Spartina foliosa


Spartina foliosa is the dominant species of the lower tidal zone, which is the interface between the mudflats and the main portion of the tidal salt marsh. Spartina creates large monotypic stands.

Main Tidal Zone

Salicornia virginica


Cuscuta salina


Salicornia virginica is the dominant species of the tidal salt marsh, creating extensive monotypic stands. Dodder is a parasitic plant which atttaches itself to the pickleweed.
In some situations, Salicornia is found on elevated, non-tidal sites near the tidal salt marshes.

Main and Upper Tidal Zone

Jaumea carnosa


Limonium californicum

Marsh rosemary

Triglochin maritima


These species are primarily found near the high tide line, but are not strictly limited to it. They are sometimes found on slightly raised ground above the tide, and are also found in raised areas within the tidal zone, intermixed with the pickleweed.

Upper Tidal Zone

Atriplex patula

Fat hen

Distichlis spicata


Frankenia salina

Alkali heath

Grindelia humilis


Grindelia stricta angustifolia

Marsh gumplant

Heliotropum curassavicum


Spergularia marina

Sand spurrey

These species are found at the high tide line and slightly above. Distichlis is characteristic of hypersaline soils above the high tide.

California Native
Plant Guide