Spartina, commonly known as cordgrass or cord-grass, is a genus of 14 species of grasses in the family Poaceae. They are native to the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean in western and southern Europe, northwest and southern Africa, the Americas and the southern Atlantic Ocean islands; one or two species also occur on the North American Pacific Ocean coast and in freshwater habitats inland in the Americas. The highest species diversity is on the east coasts of North America and South America, particularly Florida.
They form large, often dense colonies, particularly on coastal salt marshes, and grow quickly. The species vary in size from 0.3–2 m tall. Many of the species will produce hybrids if they come into contact.
Selected species and hybrids
- Spartina alterniflora Jean Louis August Loiseleur-Deslongchamps|Loisel. – Smooth Cordgrass (eastern North America)
- Spartina anglica C.E.Hubb. – Common Cordgrass (cultivated origin)
- Spartina bakeri Merr. – Sand Cordgrass
- Spartina × caespitosa A.A.Eaton – Short Cordgrass
- Spartina cynosuroides (L.) Roth – Big Cordgrass
- Spartina densiflora Brongn. – Denseflower Cordgrass
- Spartina foliosa Trin. – California Cordgrass
- Spartina gracilis Trin. – Alkali Cordgrass
- Spartina maritima (Curtis) Fernald – Small Cordgrass (western Europe)
- Spartina patens (Aiton) Muhl – Saltmeadow Cordgrass
- Spartina pectinata Bosc ex Link – Prairie Cordgrass (central North America; freshwater)
- Spartina spartinae (Trin.) Merr. ex Hitchc. – Gulf Cordgrass
- Spartina × townsendii H.Groves & J.Groves (S. alterniflora × S. maritima) – Townsend's Cordgrass
Spartina has been planted by humans to reclaim estuarine areas for stripping, to supply feed for livestock, and to prevent erosion. Various members of the genus (especially Spartina alterniflora and its derivatives, Spartina anglica and Spartina × townsendii) have spread outside of their native boundaries and become invasive.
Spartina cynosuroides is known as "big cordgrass" and is useful for the construction of bull's eye targets for sports archery. A properly constructed Spartina target can stop an arrow safely without damage to the arrowhead as it lodges in the target.
As an invasive species
- Sand Bay - an area in the UK where Spartina grass planted to support a river bank has spread.
- Invasive grasses of North America
- "Genus: Spartina Schreb.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2011-02-27. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/genus.pl?11328. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- "Spartina". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=41266. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- "GRIN Species Records of Spartina". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/splist.pl?11328. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
- "Bull's-eye Builder" Popular Mechanics, June 1952, pp. 126-127.