Description of Needlerush High Salt Marsh
The Inland Bays region of Delaware hosts all of the Needlerush HIgh Salt Marsh in Delaware, with the exception of one site at Cape Henlopen State Park. Needlerush (Juncus roemerianus), the dominant species, is near the northern limit of its range in Delaware. Only one location is further north at Kent Island, Maryland. Associates often include: salt meadow cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), salt marsh false foxglove (Agalinus maritima), seashore saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), sea lavender (Limonium carolinianum) and seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). The US National Vegetation Classification System numbers Needlerush High Salt Marsh as CEGL004186.
North Atlantic High Salt Marsh and Reed Tidal Marsh occupy the same marsh elevation as Needlerush High Salt Marsh. Reed Tidal Marsh is a threat to needlerush marshes in that it competes for the same space. Needlerush is much more common further south in Maryland and Virginia. However, climate change could push this marsh northward since it thrives in warmer areas. Complicating the movement is the fact that sea level rise is decreasing the available habitat. The only new locations found recently in Delaware include previously unknown occurrences that were already present.
Needlerush High Salt Marsh Imagery
In 2007 aerial imagery for Delaware, Needlerush gives a dark metallic texture with an appearance of height. The dark texture likely comes from the many black tips of the needlerush. Examples of Needlerush High Salt Marsh in Delaware are below.
Examples of Needlerush High Salt Marsh
Excepting the northernmost occurrence of needlerush at Cape Henlopen State Park, all other locations are south of Indian River Inlet. Indian River Bay and Little Assawoman Bay watersheds contain the most occurrences.
A small approximately 0.1 acre location is present at Cape Henlopen State Park and is considered the northernmost in Delaware. This location was found during the vegetation community/land cover survey of Cape Henlopen State Park.
Little Assawoman Bay Watershed
The picture below shows a pure Needlerush High Marsh outlined in red and with reed grass outlined in blue. To the left of both lies a North Atlantic High Salt Marsh mixed with reed grass. Irregularly Flooded Eastern Tidal Salt Shrub is closest to the land.
Indian River Bay Watershed
Sometimes it can be difficult to separate this community from darker forms of North Atlantic Low Salt Marsh. However, needlerush is often higher than the salt marsh cordgrass and this height difference becomes apparent if you look closely.