Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Spartina pectinata


SPECIES: Spartina pectinata
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walkup, C. J. 1991. Spartina pectinata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : SPAPEC SYNONYMS : Spartina michauxiana A.S. Hitchc. SCS PLANT CODE : SPPE COMMON NAMES : prairie cordgrass tall marshgrass sloughgrass TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for prairie cordgrass is Spartina pectinata Link. (Graminiae - Tribe Chlorideae). There are no infrataxa [13,14]. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : Prairie cordgrass is listed as imperiled in the state of Washington [35].


SPECIES: Spartina pectinata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Prairie cordgrass is found from Newfoundland and Quebec to eastern Washington and Oregon, and south to North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico [13,14]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES29 Sagebrush FRES35 Pinyon - juniper FRES36 Mountain grasslands FRES37 Mountain meadows FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES : AL AR CO CT DE ID IL IN IA KS KY ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY AB BC MB NB NE NS ON PQ SK MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 5 Columbia Plateau 10 Wyoming Basin 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains 15 Black Hills Uplift 16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K016 Eastern ponderosa forest K017 Black Hills pine forest K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland K038 Great Basin sagebrush K039 Blackbrush K040 Saltbush - greasewood K049 Tule marshes K055 Sagebrush steppe K056 Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe K057 Galleta - threeawn shrubsteppe K063 Foothills prairie K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass K065 Grama - buffalograss K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass K070 Sandsage - bluestem prairie K081 Oak savanna K098 Northern floodplain forest SAF COVER TYPES : 42 Bur oak 242 Mesquite 237 Interior ponderosa pine 239 Pinyon juniper 245 Pacific ponderosa pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Prairie cordgrass is codominant with bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis) on wet prairies and alkaline fens in Indiana. The wet prairie is highly productive for agriculture, and remnants are uncommon today. Alkaline fens are more common on the eastern prairies of Ohio and Indiana than on prairies to the west [3]. Published classifications listing prairie cordgrass occurs as a dominant or subdominant are presented below: Riparian dominance types of Montana [12] Classification of native vegetation at the Woodworth Station, North Dakota [19] Classification and environmental relationships of wetland vegetation in central Yellowstone Park, Wyoming [33]


SPECIES: Spartina pectinata
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Prairie cordgrass provides fair to poor forage for livestock and wildlife. It is seldom grazed because of the large amount of standing litter produced and the boggy areas in which it grows. If grazed, it is usually during the spring before the stems become coarse and woody [28], or in the fall after other forage has dried [12]. PALATABILITY : Early spring growth is the most palatable [28]. The degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife species for prairie cordgrass in several western states has been rated as follows [7,22]: CO MT ND UT WY Cattle Fair Good Fair Poor Good Sheep Fair Fair Poor Poor Fair Horses Fair Fair Fair Poor Good Pronghorn ---- Poor Poor Poor Poor Elk ---- Poor Poor Poor Poor Mule deer ---- Poor Poor Poor Poor White-tailed deer ---- Poor Poor Poor Poor Small mammals ---- Fair Poor Fair Poor Small nongame birds ---- Fair Poor Poor Poor Upland game birds ---- Poor Poor Poor Poor Waterfowl ---- Poor Poor Poor Poor NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Prairie cordgrass is low in nutritive value [28]. Energy value is fair and protein value is poor [7]. COVER VALUE : Prairie cordgrass forms thick stands around marshes, providing good cover for game and song birds and small mammals [22,28]. It also provides shade and hiding cover for larger wildlife [12]. The degree to which prairie cordgrass provides environmental protection during one or more seasons for wildlife species is as follows [7,22]: CO MT ND UT WY Elk ---- Poor ---- Poor Poor Mule deer ---- Fair Good Poor Fair White-tailed deer ---- Good Good ---- Fair Small mammals Good Good Good Fair Good Small nongame birds Good Good Good Fair Good Upland game birds Good Good Good Fair Good Waterfowl Good Good Good ---- Good VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Prairie cordgrass has great ability to stabilize soil and prevent water erosion. Steep streambanks lined with prairie cordgrass allow little if any soil to be removed, even when streams run bank full during heavy rains. Prairie cordgrass has been useful for preventing erosion on earthfill dams, spillways, and drainage channels [20]. Moderate soil deposits will injure this grass much less than other species. Sharp points on the shoots allow them to push their way through a foot of sand or silt [32]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Native Americans used prairie cordgrass for thatching lodges. Pioneers used it for thatching roofs and covering haystacks [29]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prairie cordgrass has a high grazing resistance, but decreases with intensive use [20,25,26,28]. Prairie cordgrass increased in biomass following late autumn grazing at a moderate stocking rate (1.13 acres per AUM [0.46 ha per AUM]) in Colorado [23]. Prairie cordgrass is often cut for hay before it becomes coarse. Cutting two or three times a year prevents coarseness. Production has been as much as 3 to 5 tons per acre (3.08 to 5.14 kg/ha). Mowing is not always feasible because high water tables may prevent the use of equipment. Smooth leaves make the hay difficult to handle, causing it to slip easily off the hayrack or haystack [32].


SPECIES: Spartina pectinata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Prairie cordgrass is a warm-season, native, sod-forming grass. Culms reach heights of 3.5 to 10 feet (1-3 m) and are firm or wiry. Spikes are mostly 10 to 20 per plant and are 1.5 to 3 inches (4-8 cm) long. The root system has coarse, woody, highly branched rhizomes. The roots grow from the rhizomes and the base of the clumps and penetrate almost vertically downward to depths of 8 to 13 feet (2.4-3.3 m) [13,14,30]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Prairie cordgrass reproduces by both sexual and vegetative means. Most reproduction is vegetative; seedlings are shade-intolerant and only establish in bare areas [29]. Vegetative: Rhizomes form an open network in part or all of the first foot of soil [30]. Reproduction from rhizomes produces a complete cover, and in dense stands, almost no other plants are found [32]. Seed: Seeds germinate readily in wet soil, and seedlings develop rapidly [29]. Varying germination results have been reported. Two greenhouse studies, both with optimum germination temperatures (86 degrees F [30 deg C] day, 68 degrees F [20 deg C] night), reported germinations of 70 to 91 percent [8] and 41 percent [24]. Seedling survival was high after 4 weeks of moisture stress conditions, although a reduction in growth rates did occur [8]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Prairie cordgrass is the most abundant grass of low floodplains and wetlands in Indiana. It is a facultative wetland species, meaning it is usually found in wetlands (67 to 99 percent of the time) but is occasionally found in nonwetlands. It occurs on most soil textures from fine clays to silt loams and is somewhat tolerant of alkaline conditions. It is tolerant of high water tables but intolerant of prolonged flooding [12]. Prairie cordgrass grows on wet banks of sluggish streams and around ponds. On its hydric side it is bordered by tall rushes (Scirpus spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), and reed grasses (Phragmites spp.). On the dry side, there is usually a band of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis) between prairie cordgrass and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), which dominates the next dryer zone [32]. Prairie cordgrass grows on sites ranging in elevation from 2,100 to 4,000 feet (640 to 1,219 m) in Montana, 4,100 to 6,100 feet (1,250 to 1,859 m) in Wyoming, and 3,500 to 7,000 feet (1,067 to 2,134 m) in Colorado [7]. Sites where prairie cordgrass has been reported include: lower, poorly drained soils and alkaline fens of moraines, till plains, and floodplains [3,31], pothole borders [4], and around prairie marshes and along drainage ways through the tall and mixed-grass prairies [9,15,25]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Prairie cordgrass forms stable communities on mesic sites, but as conditions become dry it is eventually replaced by big bluestem. It is dominant over extensive areas because of its height and often forms monocultures by means of its rhizomes [29]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Although prairie cordgrass renews growth rather late, it grows more rapidly than any of the grasses of the prairie. By early June in Missouri, plants are in the fifth or sixth leaf stage and 2 to 3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) tall. Plants are at least 2 years old before flowering stalks appear [29]. Flowering generally occurs from June to October, with most occurring from August to September [14]. Maximum flowering in Missouri occurs during mid-August [32].


SPECIES: Spartina pectinata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Prairie cordgrass has deep rhizomes which allow it to survive fires. Survival is increased if burns occur during wet seasons because of water present on the soil surface. Fires occurring in dry stands of this grass are hot enough to kill any trees or shrubs which have invaded the area [32]. A fire hazard results when litter of this species is allowed to accumulate. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil


SPECIES: Spartina pectinata
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : All aboveground standing vegetation and litter will be consumed by fire. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Reports of prairie cordgrass response to fire are limited and variable. Cover of prairie cordgrass decreased 1 year following a May 26 burn in North Dakota [17]. Specific fire information was not reported. However, 4 years of annual burns in southwestern Minnesota occurring from mid to late April caused an increase in cover [1]. These fires generally had low to moderate intensities with the exception of the first year when high fuel levels were present. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prescribed burning of prairie cordgrass should be considered to minimize the fire hazard resulting from litter accumulation [32]. Burning should be conducted when plants are dormant to ensure minimal damage.


SPECIES: Spartina pectinata
REFERENCES : 1. Becker, Donald A. 1989. Five years of annual prairie burns. In: Bragg, Thomas A.; Stubbendieck, James, eds. Prairie pioneers: ecology, history and culture: Proceedings, 11th North American prairie conference; 1988 August 7-11; Lincoln, NE. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska: 163-168. [14037] 2. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 3. Betz, Robert F. 1978. The prairies of Indiana. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 25-31. [3292] 4. Crist, Allan; Glenn-Lewin, David C. 1978. The structure of community and environmental gradients in a northern Iowa prairie. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 57-64. [3306] 5. Cull, Margaret Irene. 1978. Establishing prairie vegetation along highways in the Peoria area. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 172-177. [3378] 6. Currier, P. J.; Davis, C. B.; Vander Valk, A. G. 1978. A vegetation analysis of a wetland prairie marsh in northern Iowa. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 65-69. [3346] 7. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806] 8. Eddleman, Lee E.; Meinhardt, Patricia L. 1981. Seed viability and seedling vigor in selected prairie plants. In: Stuckey, Ronald L.; Reese, Karen J., eds. The Prairie Peninsula--in the "shadow" of Transeau: Proceedings, 6th North American prairie conference; 1978 August 12-17; Columbus, OH. Ohio Biological Survey Biological Notes No. 15. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University, College of Biological Sciences: 213-217. [3410] 9. Evans, Keith E.; Probasco, George E. 1977. Wildlife of the prairies and plains. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-29. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 18 p. [14118] 10. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 11. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 12. Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 411 p. [5660] 13. Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc. Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]. [1165] 14. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur; Ownbey, Marion. 1969. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 1: Vascular cryptograms, gymnosperms, and monocotyledons. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 914 p. [1169] 15. Johnson, Albert G. 1970. Fertility level of a hay-cropped prairie. In: Schramm, Peter, ed. Proceedings of a symposium on prairie and prairie restoration; 1968 September 14-15; Galesburg, IL. Special Publication No. 3. Galesburg, IL: Knox College, Biological Field Station: 26-27. [2776] 16. Kirsch, Leo M.; Kruse, Arnold D. 1973. Prairie fires and wildlife. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. Number 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 289-303. [8472] 17. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 18. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496] 19. Meyer, Marvis I. 1985. Classification of native vegetation at the Woodworth Station, North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 17(3): 167-175. [5432] 20. Morris, H. E.; Booth, W. E.; Payne, G. F.; Stitt, R. E. 1950. Important grasses on Montana ranges. Bull. No. 470. Bozeman, MT: Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. 52 p. [5520] 21. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 22. Samson, Fred B.; Knopf, Fritz L.; Hass, Lisa B. 1988. Small mammal response to the introduction of cattle into a cottonwood floodplain. In: Szaro, Robert C.; Severson, Kieth E.; Patton, David R., technical coordinators. Management of amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals in North America: Proceedings of the symposium; 1988 July 19-21; Flagstaff, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-166. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 432-438. [7131] 23. Sedgwick, James A.; Knopf, Fritz L. 1991. Prescribed grazing as a secondary impact in a western riparian floodplain. Journal of Range Management. 44(4): 369-373. [15091] 24. Shipley, B.; Parent, M. 1991. Germination responses of 64 wetland species in relation to seed size, minimum time to reproduction and seedling relative growth rate. Functional Ecology. 5(1): 111-118. [14554] 25. Stubbendieck, J.; Hatch, Stephan L.; Hirsch, Kathie J. 1986. North American range plants. 3rd ed. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 465 p. [2270] 26. Stubbendieck, J.; Nichols, James T.; Roberts, Kelly K. 1985. Nebraska range and pasture grasses (including grass-like plants). E.C. 85-170. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service. 75 p. [2269] 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 28. Van Dyne, George M. 1958. Ranges and range plants. 290 p. [7310] 29. Weaver, J. E. 1954. North American prairie. Lincoln, NE: Johnsen Publishing Company. 348 p. [4237] 30. Weaver, J. E. 1958. Summary and interpretation of underground development in natural grassland communities. Ecological Monographs. 28(1): 55-78. [297] 31. Weaver, J. E. 1960. Extent of communities and abundance of the most common grasses in prairie. Botanical Gazette. 122: 25-33. [5532] 32. Weaver, J. E. 1960. Flood plain vegetation of the central Missouri Valley and contacts of woodland with prairie. Ecological Monographs. 30(1): 37-64. [275] 33. Mattson, David John. 1984. Classification and environmental relationships of wetland vegetation in central Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 409 p. Thesis. [7348] 34. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 35. Washington Natural Heritage Program, compiler. 1994. Endangered, threatened, and sensitive vascular plants of Washington. Olympia, WA: Department of Natural Resources. 52 p. [25413]

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