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Common Cord-grass

Spartina anglica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
130 centimetres tall
Fields, mudflats, saltmarshes, wetland.

Green, no petals
Overlapping spikelets in 2 rows of the grass stem.
Seeds, but only present on one side of the flower stalk.
Yellow-green pointed leaf blades, up to 45cm long and 1.5cm wide. Clustered at the base and alternate up the stems. The leaves are entire and often with their margins rolled inwards.
Other Names:
English Cordgrass, Rice Grass, Salt Marsh-grass, Sand Couch Grass.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Spartina anglica, also known as common cordgrass or sand couch grass, is a plant species in the Poaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is also found in parts of North America. Spartina anglica is a tall, perennial grass with thin, flat leaves and small, brownish flowers that bloom in the summer. It is commonly found in coastal wetlands, and is often used in landscaping and erosion control. It is known for its ability to tolerate salty soil and flooding, and is also used for forage for livestock and wildlife. However, Spartina anglica is considered an invasive species in some areas, as it can outcompete native plants and disrupt the natural ecosystem.


Common Cord-grass, also known as Spartina anglica, is a species of grass that is native to the UK and parts of Europe. This grass species has gained notoriety due to its invasiveness, as it is known to displace native plant species and alter salt marsh habitats. Despite this, Common Cord-grass still has some interesting characteristics and ecological benefits that are worth exploring.

Appearance and Growth

Common Cord-grass is a perennial grass that grows to be about 1-2 meters tall. The leaves of this species are narrow and flat, and the stems are thick and stiff. During the summer months, Common Cord-grass produces spikes of flowers that are typically a pale yellowish-green color. This grass species is a strong grower and can form dense stands that can dominate the landscape.


Common Cord-grass is typically found in salt marshes, tidal flats, and other coastal habitats. It can tolerate a wide range of salinity levels, which allows it to thrive in areas that other plants cannot. Additionally, this species is also highly adaptable and can tolerate a variety of soils and growing conditions, making it well-suited to colonize disturbed areas.

Ecological Benefits

Despite its invasive nature, Common Cord-grass does provide some ecological benefits. For example, it can help stabilize soil in areas that are prone to erosion. The dense stands of grass can also provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species, such as birds and small mammals. Additionally, this species can also help improve water quality by filtering pollutants from runoff.

Impacts on Native Species

While Common Cord-grass does provide some ecological benefits, it is also known for its negative impacts on native plant species. This species is able to outcompete native plants for resources, such as light, water, and nutrients. Additionally, it can also alter the physical structure of salt marshes, making it difficult for native species to establish and thrive. This can result in a decline in biodiversity and a reduction in the overall health of salt marsh ecosystems.

Control and Management

Due to the invasive nature of Common Cord-grass, it is important to implement control and management strategies to prevent it from spreading and affecting native plant species. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as hand-pulling, mowing, and the use of herbicides. Additionally, restoring areas that have been impacted by this species can help support the recovery of native plant species and restore the overall health of salt marsh ecosystems.

Common Cord-grass is a species that has a complex relationship with the environment. While it can provide some ecological benefits, it is also known for its invasive nature and its negative impacts on native plant species. By understanding the characteristics and impacts of this species, we can work to control and manage its spread and support the health of salt marsh ecosystems.

Conservation Status

Common Cord-grass is not considered to be a threatened species, but it is listed as an invasive species in several countries, including the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. In these areas, it is recognized as a significant threat to native plant species and salt marsh habitats, and efforts are underway to control its spread and minimize its impacts.


Common Cord-grass has a number of uses, both in the wild and in cultivation. In the wild, it provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species, helps stabilize soil, and improves water quality. In cultivation, it is often used for erosion control, landscaping, and as a feedstock for bioenergy production.


There are several cultivars of Common Cord-grass that are used in horticulture, including 'Alum Root' and 'Big Twig'. These cultivars are selected for their ornamental value, as well as their ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. They are often used in landscaping and erosion control projects, and can also be grown in pots for use in indoor or outdoor decoration.

Common Cord-grass is a species that is both interesting and challenging, due to its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions and its invasiveness in some areas. By understanding its characteristics, ecological benefits, and impacts, we can work to minimize its negative impacts and ensure the health of salt marsh habitats and native plant species.

More Information

Additionally, Common Cord-grass is also used in the restoration of salt marsh habitats, as it can help to create the structure and stability needed for other salt marsh species to establish and thrive. In areas where Common Cord-grass has invaded, removing it can be a difficult and time-consuming process, as it often requires multiple control methods to be effective. Therefore, it is important to be proactive in preventing the spread of this species and to promote the growth of native plant species.

In terms of human use, Common Cord-grass has been used in traditional medicine in some cultures. The stems and leaves of the plant have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory and digestive problems. However, it is important to note that there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses, and it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional before using any plant species for medicinal purposes.

Common Cord-grass also has economic importance in some areas, as it is used as a feedstock for bioenergy production. The stems and leaves of the plant contain high levels of cellulose and lignin, making it a good candidate for use in the production of biofuels. This use of Common Cord-grass has the potential to provide a sustainable source of energy, while also helping to control its spread and minimize its impacts on salt marsh habitats.

In conclusion, Common Cord-grass is a species that has a range of characteristics, uses, and impacts. While it is an invasive species in some areas and can negatively impact native plant species and salt marsh habitats, it also has ecological benefits, and potential for use in bioenergy production. By understanding this species and its relationship with the environment, we can work to promote its sustainable use and conserve the health of salt marsh ecosystems.


Common Cord-grass filmed at the seaside in Carnforth, Lancashire on the 13th August 2023.


Music credits
Opheliea's Blues by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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