Spartina anglica (English cordgrass)
Copyright © 2006
Mary Jo Adams
Four species of Spartina are invasive in the Pacific Northwest. In Island County, Spartina anglica is the most widespread. This species grows and spreads rapidly in the intertidal zone not only displacing native plant species such as eelgrass (Zostera marina), but also changing the very nature of the habitat. This impacts the entire web of organisms that depend on that habitat, including invertebrates, fish, and birds.
Spartina anglica belongs to the grass family. It is derived from hybridization between Spartina maritima, which is native to Europe and Spartina alterniflora, a native of the American East Coast.
Watch for Spartina anglica in areas of mudflats, salt marsh, loose cobble or gravel beaches, and on sand beaches. Color varies from bright green to gray-green and the plant tends to grow in circular patches. Blades grow off the stem at a 45-90 degree angle. Flower heads are present from June through September. This species grows to a maximum height of 3-4 feet. Spartina anglica becomes dormant and dies back from November to March.
The other three nonnative species of Spartina found in the Puget Sound/Hood Canal area are S. densiflora, S. alterniflora, and S. patens.
One excellent resource for information about Spartina in the Puget Sound area is Invasive Spartina in Puget Sound; A Citizens’ Handbook which was created by People For Puget Sound. It is available online at http://www.pugetsound.org/pdf/publications/2005_spartina_handbook.pdf .
page was created by Mary Jo Adams on 8/23/06.