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Prairie Cordgrass

Photo by Iralee Barnard

Common Name: Prairie Cordgrass

Scientific Name: Spartina pectinata

Family: Grass

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 4 - 8 feet

Bloom Period: July, August, and September


Description: Erect stems arise from tough, 1/8-inch thick spreading rhizomes that bind the soil. Leaf blades are flat and rough along the edges. Flower and seed heads have several 1―-4 inch-long branches arranged alternately in two rows parallel to the central spike.

Comments: In saturated soils, cordgrass grows in nearly pure stands. Because it forms dense colonies of tall vegetation, it is an important source of protective cover and nesting habitat for many wetland birds and other wildlife. Cordgrass prairie once covered thousands of acres along river lowlands and was cut for hay. Most cordgrass meadows have been plowed to grow annual crops. Prairie Cordgrass was used as roof thatch for Indian lodges and pioneer sod homes. It grows statewide in wet, clay soil.

Photo by Mike Haddock