Widgeon grass is a bay grass with delicate, thread-like leaves that grow alternately along slender, branching stems. It ranges from slightly brackish upper and middle Chesapeake Bay rivers to the saltier lower Bay.
Widgeon grass has delicate, thread-like leaves with rounded tips and a sheath at the base. Leaves grow alternately along slender, branching stems. The grass grows in two forms: an upright, branched form with flowers that stand several feet tall, and a short, creeping form with leaves at the base of the plant. In late summer, long stalks with clusters of individual black, pointed seeds grow from the base of the leaves. Widgeon grass has an extensive root system with creeping rhizomes that lack tubers.
This grass grows in a wide range of salinities, from slightly brackish to salty waters. It has been found in fresh water and non-tidal tributaries. It is most common in shallow areas with a sandy bottom, but can also grow in soft, muddy sediments.
Ranges from the rivers of the upper and middle Chesapeake Bay to the saltier lower Bay. Widgeon grass and eelgrass are the dominant bay grass species in the Virginia portion of the Bay.
Migratory waterfowl feed on widgeon grass.
Widgeon grass reproduces sexually between late spring and late summer when two flowers, which are enclosed in a sheath at the base of the leaves, emerge and grow on a stalk toward the water’s surface. Pollen floating on the water’s surface fertilizes the flowers, which then produce seeds. It can also reproduce asexually, when new stems grow from the plant’s root and rhizome system.