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Spartina bakeri Marsh Grass, Sand Cordgrass

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Marsh grass is a robust ornamental grass that can form clumps that are 18 to 20 feet in diameter. This grass may grow from 3 to 4 feet tall, and its fine-textured, wiry leaves form a fountain spray pattern. The upper surfaces of the leaves are dark green, but the lower surfaces are light green in color. The obscure flowers of this plant may occur in the early spring but are relatively scarce. The seed heads of this grass are generally 2 to 8 inches long, but the plant reproduces mainly by rhizomes.

Full Form - Spartina bakeri: Marsh Grass, Sand Cordgrass
Figure 1. Full Form - Spartina bakeri: Marsh grass, sand cordgrass.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Spartina bakeri

Pronunciation: spar-TYE-nuh BAY-ker-rye

Common name(s): marsh grass, sand cordgrass

Family: Poaceae

Plant type: herbaceous; ornamental grass

USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 8: year-round

Planting month for zone 9: year-round

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year-round

Origin: native to Florida

Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant

Uses: reclamation plant; accent; border; edging; mass planting

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 3 to 4 feet

Spread: 3 to 5 feet

Plant habit: vase shape

Plant density: moderate

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: simple

Leaf shape: linear

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: more than 36 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: brown or tan

Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: brown

Flower characteristic: fall flowering


Fruit shape: unknown

Fruit length: unknown

Fruit cover: unknown

Fruit color: unknown

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems

Current year stem/twig color: not applicable

Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in full sun

Soil tolerances: extended flooding; acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay

Drought tolerance: high

Soil salt tolerances: good

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: not applicable

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Marsh grass can be used as an accent or border and is striking when planted in a mass. Space plants about 3 to 4 feet apart to form a mass of foliage several years after planting. It is a good native grass for use on the shorelines of ponds and streams and is exquisite when backlit by the sun. It also is suited for planting in and around water retention and detention areas because of its tolerance for wet soil.

Grow marsh grass in full sun or light shade on medium dry to wet soils. This plant can tolerate periodic flooding during the growing season and will grow well on the margins of sand ponds and freshwater marshes. Spartina patens and Spartina alterniflora are tolerant of saline water and often grow in coastal saltwater mashes.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Publication #FPS-554

Release Date:January 23, 2024

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About this Publication

This document is FPS-554, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman
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