Plantago maritima
n = 1
II.B.3.d Halophytic Herb Wet Meadow
Ecosystem: Tidal


This type is well known and described for Alaska.  Individual plant preferences along a gradient from saltpannes to upland are readily observable in the tidally influenced zone, and delineation of communities is somewhat arbitrary (cf. Vince and Snow, 1984).  Goosetongue (Plantago maritima) occurs between the lowest saltpannes, occupied by stickystem pearlwort (Sagina maxima) and slender glasswort (Salicornia maritima), and higher positions where seaside arrowgrass (Triglochin maritimum) and alkaligrass (Puccinellia spp.) occur.  The communities Goosetongue – alkaligrass, (Hanson, 1951) and seaside arrowgrass – Goosetongue (Batten, et. al., 1978) are identical to Kenai lowlands types. 

Goosetongue is found on protected tidally influenced flats, on nearly the lowest topographic position that terrestrial vascular plants occupy (eelgrass (Zostera spp.), an aquatic vascular plant, grows where tides rarely expose the substrate).  Its peak abundance may be somewhat higher, above the alkaligrass zone.  On the Susitna Flats, it occupies Vince and Snow's (1984) 'Inner mudflats zone 5', which floods a minimum of 6-13 times per summer. 

Goosetongue is frequently associated with the plants that occupy the zones just above and below it, especially the alkaligrasses and arrowgrasses, but often occurs in pure stands which cover varying amounts, from scattered individuals to over 75%.  

Only one site was measured, at the mouth of the Kenai River.  There, the surface horizon contained enough organic material to qualify as an organic mat 44 cm thick, meeting the criteria for an organic soil (histosol).  Organic soils are occasionally encountered in the tidal zone and a large amount of sediment from Cook Inlet or the Kenai River is available for deposition over plant remains.  Alternatively, subsidence following the 1964 earthquake may have lowered a former Ramensk’s or Lyngbye’s sedge (Carex ramenskii or C. lyngbyei) zone, where abundant litter deposition is an important source of intertidal carbon, which then was buried in post-quake silt. 

The water table at this site was greater than 1.5 m below the surface, although abundant redoximorphic features indicate that it floods often, with the tides.  It is a jurisdictional wetland.

Table 1.  Plant cover in the one plot visited.

           Wetland Indicator Status



Average Cover

  Alaska National
Plantago maritima 1.0 75.0 FACW FACW,
Puccinellia nutkaensis  1.0 0.5    OBL OBL


 Introduction and Key to Plant Communities  

Introduction and Key to Ecosystems

    Kenai Hydric Soils    Map Unit Summary    Methods    Glossary

Contact: Mike Gracz
Kenai Watershed Forum 
PO Box 15301
Fritz Creek, AK  99603
The Alaska Natural Heritage Program
Environment and Natural Resource Institute
University of Alaska, Anchorage
707 A Street, Suite 101
Anchorage, Alaska  99501

04 May 2007 09:53