Included here are the shores of the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas, the peninsula of Calabria, the Tuscan Archipelago, Corsica, Malta, Sardinia, Sicily, the Lipari Islands, the Egadi Islands, the islands of Lampedosa and Lampione and Pantelleria Island.

Along the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Lazio Region of Italy mostly within the Circeo National Park there are a series of brackish saltmarshes separated from the sea by a series of dune ridges.  The brackish conditions prevail because seawater permeates through various coastal lakes and channels but many have been modified through land reclamation and urbanisation. In simplified terms the following vegetation types have been recognised.

Parapholis incurva-Spergularia salina Saltmarsh

This vegetation has similarities with saltmarsh found in Venice Lagoon. It is characteristic of soil with high salinity and high aridity during late spring. Much of the marsh is poor in species and largely dominated by Parapholis incurva. Among the scattered associates are Anagallis arvensis, Aster tripolium, Atriplex portulacoides, Atriplex prostrata ssp. latifolia, Centaurium erthraea, Cynodon dactylon, Hainardia cylindrica, Hordeum marinum ssp. gussoneanum, Inula crithmoides, Juncus hybridus, Lagurus ovatus, Lolium perenne, Parapholis strigosa, Plantago coronopus, Polypogon monspeliensis, Ranunculus sardous, Scirpus cernuus, Schoenoplectus maritimus, Suaeda maritima, Suaeda vera and Trifolium resupinatum.

Parapholis filiformis saltmarsh

Largely consisting of ephemeral grassland this vegetation is confined to humid soils of low salinity but can become completely desiccated in summer. It was orginally thought to be confined to Sicily in Italy. Associated species include Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex portulacoides, Atriplex prostrata ssp. latifolia,  Catapodium rigidum, Cressa cretica, Cynodon dactylon, Elytrigia atherica, Gaudinia fragilis, Hordeum marinum, Limonium narbonense, Parapholis strigosa, Phalaris coerulescens, Picris echioides, Puccinellia festuciformis, ssp. convoluta, Romulea ramiflora, Salsola soda, Spergularia salina, Suaeda maritima and Triglochin bulbosa.

Parapholis incurva-Frankenia pulverulenta Saltmarsh

Widespread in the western Mediterranean basin this vegetation mainly comprises nitrophilous annuals growing on strongly saline, clay soils subject to strong aridity during spring and summer. Associated species include Anthrocnemum macrostachyum, Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum, Puccinellia festuciformis, ssp. convoluta, Salicornia patula, Salsola soda, Spergularia salina, Sphenopus divaricatus, Suaeda maritima and Suaeda vera.

Spergularia salina Saltmarsh

This comparatively rare saltmarsh grows on humid salt clay containing some peat. In forms almost monospecific stands but Juncus hibridus may be present.

Salicornia emerici Saltmarsh

This rare community is confined to humid, frequently inundated mud. The few associated species include Atriplex prostrata ssp latifolia, Inula crithmoides, Limonium narbonense, Phragmites australis, Salicornia patula and Suaeda maritima.

Suaeda maritima-Salicornia patulae Saltmarsh

This community represents the most widespread glasswort community in the Mediterranean and can adapt to both nutrient enrichment and to high levels of disturbance. It is associated with both mud and sand that is inundated in winter but can also tolerate completely desiccated in summer. Associated species include Aster squamatus, Atriplex portulacoides, Frankenia pulverulenta, Juncus hybridus, Limonium narbonense, Parapholis incurva, Polypogon monspeliensis, Puccinellia festuciformis ssp. convoluta, Salicornia dolichostachya, Salicornia emerici, Salsola soda, Schoenoplectus maritimus and Spergularia salina.

Puccinellia festuciformis-Sarcocornia perennis Saltmarsh

Saltmarsh dominated by perennial glasswort is largely confined to areas that remain inundated for long periods of time and is often associated with salt basins where salinity is high during summer. Associated species include Aeluropus littoralis, Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex portulacoides, Juncus maritimus, Juncus subulatus, Limonium narbonense, Sonchus arvensis, Spergularia salina, Suaeda maritima and Triglochin bulbosa.

Puccinellia festuciformis-Atriplex portulacoides Saltmarsh

Rare in the Mediterranean, this vegetation largely occurs in ungrazed, relatively undisturbed areas. Associated species include Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex prostrata ssp latifolia, Inula crithmoides, Juncus acutus, Juncus maritimus, Phragmites australis, Puccinellia festuciformis ssp. convoluta, Romulea ramiflora, Sarcocornia perennis and Suaeda maritima.

Limonium narbonensis-juncus gerardi Saltmarsh

This rare community consisting of low grassland dominated by juncus gerardi ssp. gerardi occurs on sand and mud susceptible to inundation. The few other associates include Aster tripolium, Atriplex prostrata ssp latifolia, Bromus hordeaceus, Elytrigia atherica and Polypogon monspeliensis.

Puccinellia festuciformis-Juncus maritimus Salt marsh

The vegetation is characteristic of low salinity soils on the upper shore. Associated species include Aeluropus littoralis, Arthrocnemum macrostachyum, Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex prostrata ssp latifolia, Elytrigia atherica, Inula crithmoides, Phragmites australis and Sarcocornia perennis.

Juncus acutus-Juncus maritimus Saltmarsh

Vegetation characterised by Juncus acutus is quite common on this stretch of coastline especially in the Circeo National Park. It tends to occupy landward transition zones where it is usually avoided by grazing stock but may be removed by farmers. Associated species include Alopecurus rendlei, Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex portulacoides, Atriplex prostrata ssp latifolia, Brazza minor, Bromus hordeaceus, Gaudinia fragilis, Inula crithmoides, Limonium narbonense, Phragmites australis, Polypogon monspeliensis, Puccinellia festuciformis ssp. convoluta, Romulea ramiflora, Sarcocornia perennis, Schoenoplectus maritimus and Sonchus maritimus. 

Juncus maritimus-Spartina versicolor Saltmarsh

The neophyte (recently introduced) Spartina versicolor forms dense grasslands with Juncus maritimus in brackish transition zones between alluvial plains and sand dunes. The few associated species include Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex portulacoides, Calystegia sepium, Inula crithmoides and Phragmites australis.

Elytrigia atherica Saltmarsh

This species poor vegetation forms narrow belts on the upper higher parts of the shore. Associated species include Artemisia coerulescens, Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex portulacoides, Avena barbata, Bromus hordeaceus, Carex otrubae, Catapodium rigidum, Inula crithmoides, Inula viscosa, Juncus acutus, Limonium narbonense, Phalaris coerulescens, Phragmites australis, Sarcocornia perennis, Spartina versicolor and Vicia parviflora.

Juncus subulatus Saltmarsh

Species poor vegetation dominated by Juncus subulatus occurs along the banks of inundation basins on clay and mud. The few associates include Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Polypogon monspeliensis and Schoenoplectus maritimus.

Schoenoplectus maritimus Saltmarsh

This species forms large, vigorous communities on brackish mud which is inundated for most of the year but becomes encrusted by weeds in summer. The few associates include Agrostis stolonifera, Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Carex otrubae, Polypogon monspeliensis and Typha angustifolia.



In southeast Spain between the provinces of Almeria and Alicante the salt marsh vegetation could be divided in to seven broad categories. These saltmarshes are known to have similarities with saltmarshes in the Mediterranean climate of California.

Shrubby Succulent Chenopod Zones

Forming near monspecific stands of Arthrocnemum macrostachyum, Halocnemum strobilaceum or Sarcocornia fruticosa, these zones were generally confined to areas of high salinity and where temporary flooding occurred. The few other species found associated with these stands included Atriplex portulacoides, Frankenia corymbosa, Limonium cossonianum and Lycium intricatum

Rush Saltmarsh Zones

Comprising monspecific stands of either Juncus maritimus or Schoenus nigricans these zones where largely associated with depressions where groundwater levels were near to the surface. Other species included Carex extensa, Phragmites australis and Plantago coronopus.

Shrubby Limonium Saltmarsh Zones

Including several species of Limonium in mixed or monspecific stands, these zones were confined to areas where no flooding occurred. Associated species included Astericus maritimus, Inula crithmoides, Plantago coronopus, Spergularia media, Thymelaea hirsuta and the Iberian endemics Limonium caesium and Limonium delicatulum.

Salt Steppe Grass Saltmarsh Zones

Dominated by Lygeum spartum these zones were confined elevated areas. Associated species included Asparagus horridus, Asteriscus maritimus, Atriplex glauca, Helianthemum syriacum, Helianthemum violaceum, Helichrysum decumbens, Limonium parvibracteatum, Limonium santapolense, Lobularia maritima, Plantago coronopus, Plantago crassifolia, Scabiosa maritima, Sedum sediforme, Thymelaea hirsuta and the Iberian endemics Artemisia barrelieri, Centaurea aspera ssp. stenophylla and Limonium furfuraceum.

Halonitrophilous Shrub Saltmarsh Zones

Dominated by Suaeda vera these zones were confined to the outermost areas that may have been ploughed in former times. Associated species included Asparagus horridus, Aster squamatus, Astericus maritimus, Atriplex glauca, Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima, Convolvulus arvensis, Conyza bonariensis, Dittrichia viscosa, Frankenia corymbosa, Inula crithmoides, Limonium angustebracteatum, Limonium cossonianum, Lycium intricatum, Malva parviflora, Piptatherum miliaceum, Plantago crassifolia, Salsola flavescens and the Iberian endemic Limonium caesium.

Open Thyme Brushwood Saltmarsh Zones

Forming a transition to inland vegetation these zones comprised a mixture of halophilous and non halophilous species and included a variety of dominate species such as Ajuga iva, Erygium campestre and Paronychia capitata. Associated species included Anabasis hispanica, Dittrichia viscosa, Frankenia corymbosa, Launaea arborescens, Limonium cossonianum, Salsola papillosa and the Iberian endemics Limonium insigne and Santolina viscosa.


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Frondoni, R. & Iberite, M. 2002. The halophile vegetation of the sedimentary coast of Lazio (central Tyrrhenian distrist, Italy).  Plant Biosystems, 136: 49-68.

Peinado, M., Alcaraz, F & Martinez-Parras, J. Ma. 1992. Vegetation of Southeastern Spain. J. Cramer.

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