Smooth cordgrass has smooth, blade-like leaves that taper to a point. The leaves grow 12 to 20 inches in length and one-half an inch wide. Tiny, white flowers bloom in July to September.
The plant has round, hollow stems and a strong, interconnected root system. Smooth cordgrass grows in two forms: a short form that grows to 2 feet tall, and a tall form that can reach 7 feet tall.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Smooth cordgrass usually reproduces asexually. Its long, underground rhizomes (underground portions of a plant’s stem) spread and form new stems. Flowers mature into foot-long seed spikes in autumn.
Did You Know?
- Smooth cordgrass is also known as saltmarsh cordgrass. It is the dominant grass in the Bay’s salt marshes.
- The short form of cordrass is more common in slightly higher areas, while the tall form is more common in low areas that are flooded by tides every day.
- This grass can be used to control shoreline erosion. It also provides important habitat for marsh periwinkles, ribbed mussels and fiddler crabs.
Sources and Additional Information
- Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
- PLANTS Database: Spartina alterniflora – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Spartina alterniflora – U.S. Forest Service