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Illinois Native Plant Guide - Prairie Cordgrass - Pages 150-151

Illinois Native Plant Guide

Prairie Cordgrass
Spartina pectinata

Preferred Water Depth and Inundation Tolerance

Prefers wet meadow conditions and saturated soil to 3 inches of inundation. Species will tolerate seasonal inundation.

Wildlife Value

Early growth provides some forage value to rodents and deer. Older growth is not readily grazed. Also provides food for waterfowl, marsh birds, and shore birds. Muskrats eat roots. Also used for wildlife cover and provides nesting habitat for marsh wren.


Used in upper shoreline zones, for streambanks, upland slope buffer stabilization and in vegetated swales.

Availability, Establishment, and Maintenance

  • Rhizomes and young transplants are used since seed viability can be very low.
  • Preferred planting of rhizomes is 5 inches deep on 1-3 foot centers in April or May. Young transplants are most successful and widely used.
  • A minimum of 1 gallon of water per linear foot per row or 1 acre inch of water should be applied after planting. Plants require saturated, not flooded, soil to maintain stand.
  • Plantings may be burned annually to stimulate seed production. Competes well with reed canary grass when established.

Prairie Cordgrass
Spartina pectinata

Mature Height
5-7 feetPrairie Cordgrass

Plant Type
Perennial grass

Indicator Status
Facultative Wet (+)


Nutrient Load Tolerance
Moderate to high

Salt Tolerance
Low to moderate

Siltation Tolerance

Flowering Color and Time
Greenish yellow
July to August

Light Preference
Full sun

Seeding Rate
.5 - 2.0 lbs/acre

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