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The Seashore

Succession is concerned with community development over time. Find out more in our general section on succession.

Halimione portulacoides

Halimione portulacoides

It has a low sprawling habit and can dominate the middle part of the salt marsh. It grows to about 50 cm in length. The picture above shows its ellipsoid (spoon shaped) leaves. Its prostrate (lying down) woody stems help in accretion and provide a surface for the red alga Bostrychia scorpioides to twist around and grow underneath its protective canopy. The leaves are covered in dense hairs which helps reduce transpiration. They are also succulent and are covered with salt glands. (You can scrape the salt off the surface and the leaves look a lot greener). When the leaves get so covered with salt that they no longer function they are cast off and new ones grow. Quite often you get extensive strandlines at the top of the marsh made up of countless cast-off Halimione leaves. It is not resistant to frost and so is more common in the south and west. Neither is it very resistant to trampling. Its dominance of the middle part of the salt marsh can be reduced drastically given a good stomping. Like Puccinellia maritima it has mycorrhizal relationships that help it obtain sufficient nutrients. The succulence of the leaves has occasionally led some (presumably desperately hungry) people to eat them. I can vouch personally for the fact that they are not especially pleasant. The picture also reminds us to look where we put our feet on the salt marsh since there may be some quite deep gullies.

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