Spartina Cordgrass (Spartina spp)
Spartina, commonly known as cordgrass, is an aggressive noxious weed that severely disrupts the ecosystems of native saltwater estuaries in the Washington State.
What seems to be the issue?
Spartina out-competes native vegetation and converts mudflats into ‘single-species meadows‘. Spartina destroys important habitat for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, increases the threat of flooding and severely affects the state’s shellfish industry. Spartina spreads by both seed production and below-ground root growth.
How did spartina get there?
In the Puget Sound, various landowners intentionally introduced ‘smooth cordgrass‘, planting it to stabilize shorelines. ‘Common cordgrass‘ was intentionally planted at a farm located in Port Susan. No one is sure how saltmeadow and dense flowered cordgrasses got to Puget Sound.
What is being done in Puget Sound?
Efforts to rid Puget Sound of spartina cordgrass are about to become a success story! They thank the state and the local efforts, tribes, volunteer groups and ordinary citizens.
The Washington departments of Agriculture and Fish and Wildlife have been using chemical, hand-pulling and mechanical harvest and disruption methods (commonly called integrated pest management) to control this invasion.
Volunteers from People for Puget Sound and The Nature Conservancy have spent hours pulling out these pesky plants.
Citizens provide clues to how spartina moves
Spartina, like most plants, reproduces and spreads by seeds. It can also reproduce from plant fragments. Tides and currents also aid in spreading the invasive plant throughout the Pacific Northwest’s marine waters.