We examined the effects of cold stratification and salinity on seed flotation of eight salt marsh species. Four of the eight species were tested for germination success under different stratification, salinity, and flooding conditions. Species were separated into two groups, four species received wet stratification and four dry stratification and fresh seeds of all species were tested for flotation and germination. Fresh seeds of seven out of eight species had flotation times independent of salinity, six of which had average flotation times of at least 50 d. Seeds of Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens had the shortest flotation times, averaging 24 and 26 d, respectively. Following wet stratification, the flotation time of S. alterniflora seeds in higher salinity water (15 and 36 ppt) was reduced by over 75% and germination declined by more than 90%. Wet stratification reduced the flotation time of Distichlis spicata seeds in fresh water but increased seed germination from 2 to 16% in a fluctuating inundation regime. Fresh seeds of Iva frutescens and S. alternflora were capable of germination and therefore are non-dormant during dispersal. Fresh seeds of I. frutescens had similar germination to dry stratified seeds ranging 25-30%. Salinity reduced seed germination for all species except for S. alterniflora. A fluctuating inundation regime was important for seed germination of the low marsh species and for germination following cold stratification. The conditions that resulted in seeds sinking faster were similar to the conditions that resulted in higher germination for two of four species. ?? 2009 Elsevier B.V.