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Small Cord-grass

Spartina maritima

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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 Cord-grass, 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 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:
70 centimetres tall
Mudflats, saltmarshes.

Green, no petals
2 or 3 spikes, shorter than those of the very similar looking Common Cord-grass (Spartina anglica). The flowers turn brown by wintertime. Flowers appear on both sides of the stem.
The fruit is a caryopsis.
A perennial species with green or purplish leaves, turning light brown in autumn and winter. The leaves are narrower than those of Common Cord-grass, up to 1cm wide and 40cm long, tapering to a point.
Other Names:
Salt Meadow Grass, Saltwater Cordgrass.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Spartina maritima, also known as salt meadow grass or saltwater cordgrass, is a plant species in the Poaceae family. It is native to the eastern coast of North America, and is commonly found in salt marshes, tidal flats, and other coastal wetlands. Spartina maritima is a tall, perennial grass with thin, flat leaves and small, brownish flowers that bloom in the summer. It is an important plant in the ecosystem of coastal wetlands, as it helps to stabilize the soil and protect against erosion. It is also used in landscaping and erosion control, and is grown for its ability to tolerate salty soil and flooding.


Small Cord-grass, also known as Spartina maritima, is a species of grass that is commonly found along the coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean. This grass is known for its ability to withstand harsh conditions and is an important part of many coastal ecosystems. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the anatomy, distribution, and ecological importance of Small Cord-grass.

Anatomy of Small Cord-grass: Small Cord-grass is a tough, salt-tolerant species that can grow up to 1.5 meters tall. The leaves of this grass are flat and ribbon-like, with a distinctive green to blue-green color. The plant produces inflorescences that are small and inconspicuous, which makes it different from many other species of grass.

Distribution: Small Cord-grass is native to the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and can be found along the coastlines of North America, Europe, and Africa. In North America, this grass is commonly found along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida. In Europe, it is found along the coasts of the UK, France, and Spain.

Ecological Importance: Small Cord-grass plays a crucial role in coastal ecosystems by stabilizing the shoreline and reducing the impact of storm surges. This grass has an extensive root system that helps to hold the soil in place and prevent erosion. The leaves of the plant also provide an important source of food and habitat for many species of birds, fish, and other animals.

In addition, Small Cord-grass helps to improve the water quality of coastal waterways by removing excess nutrients and pollutants from the water. This grass is a highly efficient filter and can help to improve the overall health of coastal ecosystems.

Small Cord-grass is a highly adaptable and ecologically important species of grass that plays a vital role in coastal ecosystems. Its ability to withstand harsh conditions, improve water quality, and provide habitat for many species of wildlife make it an essential component of the coastal landscape. By preserving and protecting the habitats of Small Cord-grass, we can help to ensure the health and stability of our coastal ecosystems for future generations.

More Information

Aside from its ecological importance, Small Cord-grass also has cultural significance. In many coastal communities, it is seen as a symbol of resilience and survival. This grass has been used for centuries by coastal dwellers for a variety of purposes, including fuel, thatching, and animal feed.

Small Cord-grass also plays an important role in the economies of many coastal communities. It is used as a source of food for livestock and as a raw material for the production of a variety of products, including paper, fuel, and construction materials. In addition, the growth of Small Cord-grass can help to reduce the risk of property damage during storm events, making it a valuable resource for coastal residents and communities.

Despite its many benefits, Small Cord-grass is threatened by a number of environmental challenges, including sea-level rise, habitat destruction, and the spread of invasive species. In many areas, the natural habitats of this grass have been destroyed by human activities, including coastal development and agriculture. To protect this important species, it is important to adopt sustainable practices that promote the health of coastal ecosystems and support the growth of Small Cord-grass.

Small Cord-grass is a unique and ecologically important species of grass that plays a crucial role in coastal ecosystems. By protecting and preserving its habitats, we can ensure the health and stability of our coastal environments for future generations. Whether you live near the coast or simply appreciate the beauty of our coastal landscapes, Small Cord-grass is an important species to know and understand.

One of the most significant threats to Small Cord-grass is the spread of invasive species. Many non-native species, such as Phragmites australis, are capable of outcompeting Small Cord-grass and altering the structure of coastal ecosystems. This can lead to changes in the local water quality and wildlife populations, as well as increased erosion and reduced resilience to storm events.

To prevent the spread of invasive species, it is important to implement effective management strategies that target the root causes of invasive species introduction and spread. This can include reducing the release of non-native species into the environment, controlling the spread of invasives through monitoring and removal efforts, and promoting the growth of native vegetation through habitat restoration and conservation initiatives.

Another important factor in the preservation of Small Cord-grass is the implementation of sustainable practices in coastal communities. This can include reducing the impact of coastal development on sensitive habitats, promoting sustainable agriculture and fishing practices, and protecting wetlands and other critical habitats. In addition, promoting public awareness and education about the importance of Small Cord-grass and coastal ecosystems can help to build support for conservation efforts and encourage the adoption of sustainable practices.

In conclusion, Small Cord-grass is an important species that plays a crucial role in coastal ecosystems and requires our protection and conservation. By implementing effective management strategies, promoting sustainable practices, and increasing public awareness, we can help to preserve this valuable resource for future generations. Whether you live near the coast or simply appreciate the beauty of our coastal landscapes, the preservation of Small Cord-grass is a cause worth supporting.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map