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August 21st, 2019

Spartina – Seaside Grass

by R.S. Walsh

Smooth Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) commonly referred to as Spartina grass or seaside grass, is a perennial deciduous grass found in intertidal wetland and estuarine salt marshes. It is fine textured with wiry leaves that form a fountain spray pattern. The surface of this grass is dark green with the lower surfaces light green in color. This saltwater loving grass can be seen growing throughout Florida as a native species. This plant grows from to 3 to 7 feet in height and may submerge during high tide.

It is a habitat building species with the ability to create land masses for oysters, mollusks and other species to latch on to. This in turn brings in the redfish, and other important fish species Florida is widely known for. This species of native grasses is also very important in the stabilization of sand dunes and levees found on barrier islands and beaches. These sand dunes in turn provide habitat for nesting birds that need that protection from human and natural interference. These types of grasses also act as a natural pollution filter in water environments.

This species of ornamental grass creates a unique texture and grouping patterns to the Florida garden. It grows in large clumps and is often used as a specimen species or border plant. This plant works very well along edges of ponds and water features. Being a Florida native, it has a high salt tolerance and prefers full sun exposure. Look for this seaside marsh grass and watch how it waves gracefully in the island breeze.

This plant column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, a Sanibel garden center, located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, Florida.

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