Grass Family (Poaceae). Big cordgrass is a warm season, robust, rhizomatous perennial. The height ranges from 3 to 10 feet. The leaf blade is flat and 1/2 to 1 inch wide; often 18 to 24 inches long; rough and sharp margin. The leaf sheath is rounded. The ligule has short membrane and densely hairy. The stem is thick, round and often 3/4 inch in diameter at base. The seedhead has 20 to 40 spikes, each about 3 inches long, and spikelets about 1/2 inch long growing on one side of rachis with the seedhead growing 12 to 18 inches long.
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Depth range (m): 1.5 - 1.5
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Major growth is from late March through September or October. Seedheads form during fall. The base of the plant remains green through the winter. It reproduces from robust rhizomes, which form dense colonies. This plant is primarily adapted to mineral soils in salt marshes. It tolerates moderate salinity and water levels that fluctuate from 4 inches below soil surface to 2 inches above. It is closely associated with marsh-hay cordgrass (Spartina patens) and common reed (Phragmites australis).
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
Please contact your local NRCS Field Office.
For best production and plant vigor, graze big cordgrass during fall and winter and defer grazing during summer.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Cattle graze big cordgrass. Ducks and geese eat the tender shoots that grow after marshes are burned in early fall.
Spartina cynosuroides is a species of grass known by the common names big cordgrass and salt reedgrass. It is native to the East Coast and Gulf Coast of the United States, where it grows in coastal habitat such as marshes, lagoons, and bays.
This species is a rhizomatous perennial grass which can grow up to 10 feet tall. The leaves are up to 24 inches long and up to an inch wide. The ligule is hairy. The stem can be ¾ of an inch in diameter at the base. The inflorescence contains up to 40 spikes each up to 3 inches long.
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