Plant Guide > Grasses > Spartinas Grass

Spartinas Grass


Spartinas are lovers of strong salt breezes, and with Marram Grass and Bitter Panic-grass are characteristic plants of sea sands and salt marshes.

With long rootstocks, sharp-tipped with scaly points, the grasses of this genus grow to the water's edge, and withstand the daily flooding of the tides.

Pull up a portion of the strong rootstock from some large Spartina and the growing point is sharp as any needle. These subterranean stems, pushing their way in endless, interlacing network through the sands and creek mud, aid in firmly binding the unstable shores.

Fox-grass, the earliest, and by far the most slender of the common species, blooms through July and August and covers large areas with its smooth, dark green leaves and stems and its vividly coloured flowering spikes of purple flecked with yellow anthers.

This and the Black-grass - really a rush - are valuable plants of the seaside, and their low, dense growth of leaves and stems, so frequently seen by tidewaters, is easily recognized by the characteristic dark green colour.

These plants yield a large amount of the salt hay gathered each year, and the wiry stems of Fox-grass are much used in packing. This, also, is one of the many plants that have been proved to yield fibres suitable for spinning and weaving, and it is said that although the fibre from the stems of Fox-grass is deficient in length it is equal in strength and fineness to that of flax.

Creek Sedge advances into the water and one must wait until low tide before approaching by land the pale green spikes which are so beautifully fringed with their white anthers. This grass is common everywhere along our coasts and by creek margins, where it borders the water with impassable thickets of reedlike stems which remain green until late autumn.

The stout stems, leafy to their summits, are sometimes used for thatching, but the plant, until thoroughly dry, has an unpleasant odour.

Cord-grass (Spartina Michauxiana), found by river and lake borders, as well as near the coast, is a tall, stout grass whose smooth stems bear an inflorescence composed of five to thirty light-coloured, erect or spreading spikes. Paper and twine have been manufactured from this species, and, like Creek Sedge, Cord-grass is used to form a waterproof thatch.

Salt Reed-grass (Spartina cynosuroides) is the largest of the genus and bears broad, rough leaves, and a dense inflorescence of many spikes, which are often tinged with purple. On the Jersey marshes, acres are covered by this grass, which sometimes attains a height of ten feet, with stems an inch in diameter at the base.

Creek Sedge or Creek Thatch Grass
Fox Grass or Salt Meadow Grass