Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
General: Black needlerush is a moderate growing, bunch forming, grass-like perennial. It is course and rigid. Where soil salinity is low, black needle grass is robust with leaves reaching over 2.2 m in height. But in high saline areas the plants are dwarfed often less than 0.3 m tall. Leaves are terete, stiff and pungent. Inflorescence appear laterally; involucral bract terete and erect. Perianth usually brownish, 3-3.5 mm long; sepals longer and are more pointed than petals. It is composed of two types of plants based on flower morphology: one form produces perfect (bisexual flowers) and another form produces pistillate (unisexual) flowers. Seeds are dark and 0.6 mm long (May to October). Black needlerush is found growing in brackish marshes in dense zonal stands.
Distribution: Black needlerush is one of the dominate species in the marshes on the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It dominates 20.7% of the marsh in the south Atlantic states and 7.3% of Gulf coast marshes. But, it covers more marsh area on the Gulf coast than on the Atlantic coast. Its distribution is continuous from Maryland to Florida and westward to southwestern Texas. It is usually restricted to coastal marches and estuaries, but it may extend 10 to 15 miles inland along river estuaries.
For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: Black needlerush occupies the edge of ditches and shorelines of bays, back bays and tributaries of tidal systems in coastal systems. Black needlerush grows on soils ranging from almost pure sand to fine silt loam and clay mixtures. It also, grows in highly organic soils including peat soils. It has a high tolerance to anaerobic conditions, high tolerance to CaCO3 and tolerates pH ranges from 4.0-7.0