Alphabetical Plant Listing

Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass)

Saltmarsh Cordgrass, Saltwater Cordgrass, Salt Cordgrass, Smooth Cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora var. glabra, Spartina alterniflora var. pilosa


Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass) is a rhizomatous perennial grass that grows initially in round clumps, eventually forming extensive monoculture meadows. The stiffly erect stems are hollow and hairless. The leaves are 8-20 in. (20-50 cm) long, and are often purplish at the base. In summer and fall, densely packed clusters of tan flowers develop. They give way to flattened and smooth fruits with pointed tips. Smooth Cordgrass has a dense rhizome system that binds coastal mud and its sturdy stems decreases wave action allowing silt deposition, causing elevation of the mudbank, assisting in land reclamation. Smooth cordgrass is an important component of Gulf Coast salt marshes which stabilize shorelines against erosion and filter heavy metals and toxic materials from the water column. As a result, it was widely planted at coastal sites throughout the UK, Northern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China and USA, where it has naturally colonized large areas of tidal mudflats, becoming an invasive species. Smooth Cordgrass dies back at the end of each growing season. It is used by a variety of wildlife species. It is an important food source for West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus), snow geese (Chen caerulescens) and provides cover for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and muskrats. It also provides habitat for commercially important fish and shellfish.

  • Grows up to 3-5 ft. tall (90-150 cm). Can grow to 8 ft (240 cm), or can remain at less than 2 ft. (60 cm) if the ground is extremely salty.
  • Performs best in full sun in wet clay, loam or sandy soils. It has the capacity to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, including floods, pH levels and salinity levels
  • Needs little care and has no serious pest or disease issues.
  • Smooth Cordgrass is considered to be a non-native invasive plant on the U.S. Pacific coast
  • Propagate by root division.
  • Native to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States. It forms the dominant salt-marsh community in salt water, normally forming monoculture meadows where conditions allow.

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Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 11
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses, Perennials
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 3' – 5' (90cm – 150cm)
Water Needs High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Poorly Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, California, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pacific Northwest, Washington, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Salt, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Prairie and Meadow

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Northeast Coastal & Barrier Network, Flickr, Maria T Hoffman, Jeff Holcombe, Shutterstock, 123rf

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 11
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses, Perennials
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 3' – 5' (90cm – 150cm)
Water Needs High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Poorly Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, California, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pacific Northwest, Washington, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Salt, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Prairie and Meadow

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