saltmeadow cordgrass
Spartina patens (Ait.) Muhl.


Spartina patens is a tufted perennial warm season grass, (family Poaceae) that grows from 1-4 ft. (0.25-1.22 m) in height. The rhizomatous roots help to spread this species. S. patens is native to the southeastern coast of North America and can be seen growing in brackish marshes, low dunes, sand flats, beaches and high salt marshes.
The light green S. patens leaf blades are narrow ranging from 0.04-0.16 in. (1-4 mm) wide at the base with inrolled margins. The internode is firm and ligules are about 0.02 in. (0.5 mm) long. The leaves are deciduous, with new growth each year.
The inflorescence is an open dark-colored panicle. Branches of the panicle are spreading to ascending with lower branches usually not overlapping. Panicles are generally about the same height as the foliage.
S. patens reproduces both through seed and vegetative rhizomatous roots. Rhizomes are usually long and wiry ranging from 0.08-0.16 in. (2-4 mm) in diameter.
Ecological Threat
Estuarine habitats of the East coast and the West coast of the United States are physically different. The Spartina species, native to the east coast provide the appropriate food and shelter for the native wildlife in that area. However on the west coast, these same grasses cause many problems. They convert the much of the mudflats expected on the west coast to high marsh which has a negative effect on feeding areas, nesting areas, nursery areas, resting sites and shellfish production. In addition they are able to successfully compete against native vegetation, sometimes completely replacing it in the habitat.

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EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Spartina
Subject: Spartina patens (Ait.) Muhl.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
marshhay cordgrass, salt meadow cordgrass


Plants - Grass or Grasslike