Spartina pectinata Bosc ex Link
Prairie Cordgrass, Freshwater Cordgrass, Sloughgrass
Poaceae (Grass Family)
Synonym(s): Spartina michauxiana, Spartina pectinata var. suttiei
USDA Symbol: SPPE
Freshwater Cord Grass or Prairie Cord Grass is a very rigid, upright perennial, 5-8 ft. tall, with tough leaves. Coarse, ascending spikelets of tan-colored seedheads are arranged spirally in two’s on the upper part of the stem and are the main virtue of this grass. Fall color is an attractive yellow. A tall grass, with stiff, widely spaced flowering branches, the entire flower cluster reaching well above the leaves.
This is one of our tallest grasses and is probably the species that gave rise to Midwestern settlers’ accounts of grass higher than a horse’s back. Prairie Cordgrass is one of the dominants of the tallgrass prairie, growing mainly in low, wet areas. The species name derives from the Greek word pecten (“comb”), referring to the appearance of the plants flowering branches. Also known as Sloughgrass.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 8 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun
DistributionUSA: AR , CO , CT , DC , DE , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Nf. & Que to e. WA & OR, s. to NC, TN, LA, TX & NM
Native Habitat: Fresh water & coastal marshes; prairie swales
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Wet to moist, rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Prairie cordgrass spreads rapidly by rhizomes, and is best suited to large areas. It can become invasive.
PropagationDescription: Propagate by seed or division.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
When to plant grasses on Long Island, NY
December 06, 2009
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; Are there any grass seeds that I can plant NOW, early December, on Long Island, NY? The planting environment is on and near a sandy bluff on a bayshore, where it can be windy ...
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
North American Native Plant Society - Etobicoke, ON
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Spartina pectinata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Spartina pectinata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Spartina pectinata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-01-26
Research By: TWC Staff