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
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
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.
Table last updated 1/31/2020
† 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).
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.
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.
Maps and Findings - 2004 Key Findings. San Francisco Estuary Invasive
Spartina Project website.
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.
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.
C.A. and R.M. Thom. 1995. Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) as
an invasive halophyte in Pacific Northwest estuaries. Hortus Northwest
Thompson, J.D. 1991. The biology of an invasive plant: What makes Spartina anglica so successful? BioScience 41:393-401.
Revision Date: 10/31/2008
Howard, V., 2020, 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: 5/28/2020
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.