Quick Facts

Species Type

Native

Size

"Short" form grows to 2 feet tall; "tall" form grows to 7 feet tall

Habitat

Grows between the low- and high-tide marks in salt and brackish marshes, forming dense colonies that usually parallel the shoreline

Range

Found along the shores of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay and its tidal creeks and rivers.

Conservation Status

Stable

Appearance

Smooth cordgrass has smooth, blade-like leaves that taper to a point. The leaves grow 12 to 20 inches in length and one-half an inch wide. Tiny, white flowers bloom in July to September.

The plant has round, hollow stems and a strong, interconnected root system. Smooth cordgrass grows in two forms: a short form that grows to 2 feet tall, and a tall form that can reach 7 feet tall.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Smooth cordgrass usually reproduces asexually. Its long, underground rhizomes (underground portions of a plant’s stem) spread and form new stems. Flowers mature into foot-long seed spikes in autumn.

Did You Know?

  • Smooth cordgrass is also known as saltmarsh cordgrass. It is the dominant grass in the Bay’s salt marshes.
  • The short form of cordrass is more common in slightly higher areas, while the tall form is more common in low areas that are flooded by tides every day.
  • This grass can be used to control shoreline erosion. It also provides important habitat for marsh periwinkles, ribbed mussels and fiddler crabs.

Sources and Additional Information