Page author: Don Knoke
Spartina alterniflora
saltwater cordgrass, smooth cordgrass

Distribution: Introduced in Pacific County, Washington; common along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States.

Habitat: Along the coast in brackish water.

Flowers: August - September

Origin: Introduced from the Atlantic coast of North America

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Strongly rhizomatous perennial, the culms 6-12 dm. tall, glabrous and hollow.


Sheaths open, pubescent at the throat; ligules about 1.5 mm. long, composed chiefly of a fringe of fine, straight hairs; blades 7-15 mm. broad at the base, involute at the tip.


Inflorescence of many spikes, crowded and overlapping, 5-8 cm. long, arranged in a raceme; spikelets 1-flowered, articulate below the glumes, borne in two rows on one side of the rachis; first glume very narrow, acute, 6-9 mm. long, keeled, blunt, 1-nerved; second glume broader and longer, keeled and blunt, exceeding the floret; lemmas keeled, 1-nerved, slightly exceeded by the delicate, 2-nerved palea.

Accepted Name:
Spartina alterniflora Loisel.
Publication: Fl. Gall. 719. 1807.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Spartina alterniflora Loisel. var. glabra (Muhl. ex Elliott) Fernald
Spartina alterniflora Loisel. var. pilosa (Merr.) Fernald
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Spartina alterniflora in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Spartina alterniflora checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Spartina alterniflora atlas page.

CalPhotos: Spartina alterniflora photos.

USDA Plants: Spartina alterniflora information.

2 photographs:
Group by