Texas Saline Coastal Prairie

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Nature Serve ID: CES203.543


Principally on the Pleistocene Beaumont Formation.


Mostly level or very gently undulating landform, typically near the coast. These sites may be inundated by saltwater during storm surges. Pimple mounds may lend some local topographic variation to the otherwise level surface.


Very deep, somewhat poorly to poorly drained with high salinity and/or sodicity, at least at some depth. These may be loams or clays. These soils may be saturated from local rainfall or, occasionally from storm surges.

Parent Description

This system occupies saline soils, generally near-coast, on level topography of the Beaumont Formation. Sites may be nearly monotypic stands of Spartina spartinae (Gulf cordgrass). Other gramimoids that may be present to abundant include Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly), or Sporobolus indicus (rat-tail smutgrass)Spartina patens (marshhay cordgrass)Aristida oligantha (oldfield threeawn), Paspalum hartwegianum (Hartweg paspalum)Sporobolus virginicus (seashore dropseed)Paspalum vaginatum (seashore paspalum), and Distichlis spicata (saltgrass) may be common, particularly on lower, somewhat wetter sites. Forbs are generally uncommon, but may include species such as Borrichia frutescens (sea ox-eye daisy)Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod)Iva angustifolia (narrowleaf sumpweed), Euthamia spp. (goldentops), or other species more common to the non-saline soils nearby, or the salt marsh that may also be nearby. Microtopographic highs in the form of pimple mounds often have species more characteristic of less saline adjacent habitats. Shrubby species may invade the prairie, commonly including species such as Iva frutescens (shrubby sumpweed), Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite), Acacia farnesiana (huisache), Lycium carolinianum (Carolina wolfberry), Tamarix spp. (salt cedar), and Baccharis halimifolia (baccharis).

Ecological Mapping Systems