spartina pectinata flower

Family:     Poaceae (Grass family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     up to 250 cm (up to 8 ft)

Blooming: July-Sept.


Prairie Cordgrass

Spartina pectinata  Link

Flowers: the tightly appressed spike can get up to 15 cm (6 in) long.  There can be 25+ long spikelets on the grass' spikes.  The flowers are a soft purple bloom with yellow and green highlights.

Leaves: can grow up to 96 cm (3.15 ft) long.  The blades are smooth on both sides with sharp edges.  Running your hand along the stems may result in a cut hand.  

Sun:  Full sun to part shade

Spartina pectinata.jpg
prairie cordgrass

Comments: Because of the strong stature of prairie cordgrass, it was once used as a thatching for lodges by settlers and prairie Indians.  It was one of the dominate grasses in the tall-grass prairies, especially in the wetter areas.

Etymology: The epithet, pectinata, is derived from the Latin word for "comb".  This is referring to the comblike spikes that cordgrass has. The genus Spartina comes from the Greek word, spartinē, which means "rope".


all photos by Nathanael Pilla

Landscape: Prairie cordgrass grows colonially in wet soils, but it can succeed in drier conditions.  A good choice if you are interested in stabilizing the soil around a pond or stream.  It can get aggressive.

Madison, J. 1995. Where the sky began: land of the tallgrass prairie. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, IA.

Species Present and Native