Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Patens)

The Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Patens) is generally described as a perennial graminoid. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Patens) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Patens) will reach up to 2 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Patens) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, sprigs. It has a none ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -3°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Saltmeadow cordgrass is used for shoreline protection and tidal marsh restorations, and is sometimes utilized for sand dune stabilization plantings. In its natural state on the tidal marshes, dense stands of this grass cause suspended solids to settle out of floodwaters and take up available nutrients. This cordgrass also provides food and cover to a limited number of animals. This species is the primary component of salt hay, which is utilized in the landscape and vegetable trade as a weed seed free mulch.

General Characteristics

This warm season, native, perennial grows from 1 to 3 feet tall, and spreads extensively by long slender rhizomes. Dark green stems emerge from the rhizomes. The rolled leaf blades are typically 1/2 to 1 foot long, and 0.1 to 0.2 inches wide. Leaves are drooping and wiry in appearance. From late June to October an inflorescence emerges at the end of the stem, which is composed of 2 to 10 two-inch-long spikelets. The numerous florets are 0.3 to 0.4 inches long and arranged in an overlapping scale-like fashion on each spikelet. The flowers are wind pollinated.

Required Growing Conditions

Saltmeadow cordgrass is commonly found growing on open coastal marshes from normal high tide to about 13 feet, from Newfoundland to Quebec, south to Florida and Texas; it can also be found along the shores of the Great Lakes. This grass is adapted to a wide range of soils from coarse sands to silty clay sediments with pHs ranging from 3.7 to 7.9. Saltmeadow cordgrass will tolerate irregular inundations with 0 to 35 parts per thousand salinity.

Cultivation and Care

Due to sparse seed production, saltmeadow cordgrass is usually propagated by vegetative stem divisions. Depending on the energy effecting the planting site, either containerized (high impact sites)or bare root (mild impact sites) plants can be utilized. Bare root material should contain 3 to 5 stems per planting unit, while containers should have at least 5 to 8 healthy stems. Since most marsh sites are irregular and difficult to access, hand planting is normally employed, using spades, dibbles, or planting bars. If site conditions are right, planting can be carried out with a mechanical, tractor drawn transplanter. Plant spacing should be between 18 and 36 inches; up to 2 feet of lateral spread can be expected annually.In nursery rows, plants of saltmeadow cordgrass should be spaced 6 to 12 inches apart. Under ideal nursery conditions, each planting unit should be able to yield up to 50 stems in a single growing season. Effective weed control is essential to producing quality plants.

General Upkeep and Control

Stems and rhizomes of this grass respond well to applications of well balanced commercial fertilizers. Plants propagated under nursery conditions may need to be irrigated if the site is not moist year round to encourage good growth and spread. Plants in production are usually placed on sandy textured soils and allowed to spread by rhizomes for 1 to 3 years, after which they are under-cut and uplifted for distribution.

Pests and Potential Problems There are no detrimental pests documented to impact this species. Non-threatening rust-like funguses (orange fruiting bodies on leaves) are commonly found on S. patens plants.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) There are two named cultivars available on the commercial market. In 1986, ‘Avalon’ (New Jersey) saltmeadow cordgrass was released for use in the coastal area north of the Carolinas by the Cape May Plant Material Center, in Cape May Court House, New Jersey. Soon after, ‘Flageo’ (North Carolina) was released by the Americus, Georgia and Brooksville, Florida PMCs for use on the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Rhizomatous
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 2
Vegetative Spread Rapid
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate None
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Sprigs
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -3
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.5–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 36–36 inches/yr
Planting Density 4000–43000 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Minimum Frost-Free Days 130 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance High
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant Yes
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA