The estimation of aboveground biomass is important in the management of natural resources. Direct measurements by clipping, drying, and weighing of herbaceous vegetation are time-consuming and costly. Therefore, non-destructive methods for efficiently and accurately estimating biomass are of interest. We compared two non-destructive methods, visual obstruction and light penetration, for estimating aboveground biomass in marshes of the upper Texas, USA coast. Visual obstruction was estimated using the Robel pole method, which primarily measures the density and height of the canopy. Light penetration through the canopy was measured using a Decagon light wand, with readings taken above the vegetation and at the ground surface. Clip plots were also taken to provide direct estimates of total aboveground biomass. Regression relationships between estimated and clipped biomass were significant using both methods. However, the light penetration method was much more strongly correlated with clipped biomass under these conditions (R2 value 0.65 compared to 0.35 for the visual obstruction approach). The primary difference between the two methods in this situation was the ability of the light-penetration method to account for variations in plant litter. These results indicate that light-penetration measurements may be better for estimating biomass in marshes when plant litter is an important component. We advise that, in all cases, investigators should calibrate their methods against clip plots to evaluate applicability to their situation. ?? 2006, The Society of Wetland Scientists.