Relentless plants

There is no doubt that the most important vegetation in the Wadden Sea are the one-celled plants. These tiny plants are the basis of an enormous wealth on the seabed as well as in the water. More visible are the eelgrass from which other plants and animals profit. On the blades of the eelgrass grows algae, which are eaten by snails. The same leaves offer protection to young shellfish, crustaceans and fish, which use the eelgrass meadows as a nursery. This green underwater plant is the favorite food for brent geese and wigeons.

Higher up in the tidal zone, on the salt marshes, you find plants from the goosefoot family. They look a lot like desert plants, with their succulent or hairy leaves. On the even more elevated areas grow all kinds of flowering plants, which change the marshes in the summer into a colorful sea of flowers.

Salt marsh plants are all adapted to their dynamic surroundings, where they regularly encounter salt water. Many of these plants have special glands in their leaves, which help them get rid of the unwanted the salt. Other species store the salt in their lower leaves, which eventually die and fall off. Although they have found ways to survive under these severe conditions, salt marsh plants generally grow very slowly.

In the dry dune areas, it's marram grass that dominates. Without this indigenous grass species, the islands in the Wadden Sea probably would look very different. The plant is totally adapted to the arid conditions. The clumps of grass catch the wind-blown sand, where it falls to the ground. This is how the dunes grow taller. The marram grass stems and roots grow so quickly that they are easily capable of keeping pace with the rising dune. Without these dune builders, the other rare and threatened plant species now growing in the dunes would never have been able to grow.