Halophytes

Plants growing on salt marshes, silts, sea dikes and inlays are also called ‘halophytes’. Not because they like salt, but because they can stand salt better than other plants. Every ‘halophyte’ therefore has its own place on the salt marsh or salty silt. The conditions must be right. To avoid getting too much salt, halophytes have to be satisfied with a very small amount of fresh water and be very economical with it. Each plant has its own tricks against salty water (see further on in this article)

 

They grow slowly because of the salt that remains in the soil. Many species, including sea lavender, blossom en masse in late summer. This colours the entire salt marsh at its best. In autumn most halophytes die off, some of them only above ground. Glasswort is a true pioneer of the wet part of the marsh.

 

Some halophytes are eaten by humans and glasswort and sea aster are a delicacy for some people. They are collected and grown as vegetables.

To cut sea vegetables, a permit is required.

Tricks

 

Most try to absorb as little salt water as possible and evaporate fresh water, even though they are in the middle of it! Through all kinds of adjustments: thick, oily leaves, finely distributed leaves, grassy or needle-like leaves they try to retain that little bit of water as long as possible and evaporate less.

 

The colour, often grey-green, can also help prevent evaporation. Plants such as sea lavender and cord grass ‘spit out’ the excess salt! You will see salt crystals on the leaf.