The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Sporobolus anglicus
Sporobolus anglicus
(common cordgrass)
Exotic Hybrid
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Sporobolus anglicus (C.E.Hubb.) P.M. Peterson & Saarela

Common name: common cordgrass

Identification: Emergent estuarine grass that colonizes within the intertidal zone, ranging between 0.3 and 1.3 meters in height.  Spreads aggressively by radial growth of stout, white rhizomes.
Green to grayish-green leaves are flat when fresh, smooth on both upper and lower surfaces, accuminate and 6-15 mm wide at the leaf base and up to 10-45 mm long. Ciliate ligules are 2-3 mm long.  Flowers form on numerous erect panicles, consisting of closely overlapping spikelets arranged in two rows on one side of the rachis.

Native Range: England (see remarks section).
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Sporobolus anglicus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CA197720002San Pablo Bay; Tomales-Drake Bays
WA196219952Puget Sound; Stillaguamish

Table last updated 3/4/2021

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Inhabits low intertidal mud flats to high salt marsh, but grows best in low salinity marshes and open mudflats (Hacker et al. 2001). 

Means of Introduction: Introduced into Washington for bank stabilization and as possible food source for cattle (Murphy et al. 2007).  Also, intentionally introduced, probably with seed, during a marsh restoration in the San Francisco Bay (Ayres et al. 2004).

Impact of Introduction: Accretion and stabilizing of loose sediments (Ranwell 1967, Gray et al. 1991, Thompson 1991); possible exclusion of native plants such as eelgrass (Zostera marina), pickleweed (Salicornia spp.) and others (Simenstad and Thom 1995); significant effects on sediment accretion, water content, redox potential, and salinity depending on the the type of habitat invaded (Hacker and Dethier 2006).

Remarks: S. anglica is the fertile F2 hybrid which arose between the European native Spartina maritima and Spartina alterniflora imported from the United States (Ayers and Strong 2001).

References: (click for full references)

Ayres, D.R. and D.R. Strong. 2001. Origin and genetic diversity of Spartina anglica(Poaceae) using nuclear DNA markers. American Journal of Botany 88: 1863-1867.

Ayres, D.R., D.L. Smith, K. Zaremba, S.Klohr and D.R. Strong. 2004.Spread of exotic cordgrasses and hybrids (Spartina sp.) in the tidal marshes of San Francisco Bay, California, USA. Biological Invasions 6: 221–231.

Anonymous. Maps and Findings - 2004 Key Findings. San Francisco Estuary Invasive Spartina Project website.  (accessed on 7 March 2008).

Gray, A. J., Marshall, D. F. and Raybould, A. F. 1991. A century of evolution in Spartina anglica. Advances in Ecological Reseach 21: 1-62.

Hacker, S.D., D. Heimer, C.E. Hellquist, T.G. Reeder, B. Reeves, T. Riordan, and M.N. Dethier. 2001. A marine plant (Spartina anglica) invades widely varying habitats: potential mechanisms of invasion and control. Biological Invasions 3: 211-217.

Hacker S.D., Dethier M.N. 2006. Community modification by a grass invader has differing impacts for marine habitats. Oikos 113:279–286.

Ranwell, D.S. 1967. World resources of Spartina townsendii (senso lato) and economic use of Spartina marshland. Journal of Applied Ecology 4:239-256.

Simenstad, C.A. and R.M. Thom. 1995. Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) as an invasive halophyte in Pacific Northwest estuaries. Hortus Northwest 6:9-12, 38-40.

Thompson, J.D. 1991. The biology of an invasive plant: What makes Spartina anglica so successful? BioScience 41:393-401.

Author: Howard, V.

Revision Date: 10/31/2008

Citation Information:
Howard, V., 2021, Sporobolus anglicus (C.E.Hubb.) P.M. Peterson & Saarela: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=1126, Revision Date: 10/31/2008, Access Date: 3/4/2021

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2021]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/4/2021].

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