Chapter 3. Common Native Grasses of the Northern Midwest

3.15 Prairie cordgrass

prairie cordgrass
Prairie cordgrass in its native habitat showing fall color. Photo by Dave Hansen.

Spartina pectinata

Warm season; Perennial

Characteristics: 4–6’; upright arching; flowers green; foliage green to yellow green in fall

Growing Conditions: average to wet soils; full sun; hardy zones 3–8

In native habitats, this grass is found in wet meadows and ditches, the edges of wetlands, and lakeshores. It prefers wet soils, and can tolerate sandy seashores and heavy clay soils. Its strong rhizomes can be aggressive in a garden, but are perfect for lakeshores and areas too wet for other plants. It provides a yellow fall color.

  • ‘Aureo-Marginata’: variegated prairie cordgrass, yellow margins and stripes on the foliage, 4–6’

Species that use prairie cordgrass according to the literature are the tortricid moth Aethes spartinana, the noctuid moth Chortodes enervata, the noctuid moth Mesapamea stipata, and the pyralid moth Peoria gemmatella.


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Gardening with Native Grasses in Cold Climates by Diane M. Narem and Mary Hockenberry Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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