Spartina anglica | Common Cord-grass | Spairtíneach ghallda



Conservation status

Not Assessed

Legal status

Third Schedule listed species under Regulations 49 & 50 in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. (Note: Regulation 50 not yet enacted). Listed as a schedule 9 species under Articles 15 & 15A of the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985 (Article 15A not yet enacted).

Native status


First reported in the wild



Invasive species - risk of High Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Release in Nature

Introduction pathways subclass - 1

Release in nature for use

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed


Species Biology


Common cord grass, a coastal species with tall stems (up to 130cm) and broad stiff hairless leaves, spikelets one flowered with conspicuous feathery stigmas, inflorescence a long slender one sided spike that ends in a sharp bristle (Fitzpatrick et al., 2014)


Spartina anglica spreads rapidly over areas, increasing the height of sediment and covering over mud flats reducing foraging areas for waterfowl and waders (Hammond & Cooper, 2002).


Estuaries, Coastal


S. anglica spreads through the establishment of seedlings or plant fragments on open mudflats, which then expand into tussocks by radial clonal growth (Hammond & Cooper, 2002). Spreading tussocks then fuse to form clumps that can expand into extensive meadows (Hammond & Cooper, 2002).

Pathway and vector description

Spartina spp., planted at Little Island in Cork, 1925 as part of a reclamation project, which was then intentionally planted at other locations, is likely the source of Irish population (Reynolds, 2002), though the history of Spartina anglica is somewhat confusing.

Mechanism of impact

Competition, Bio-fouling

Broad environment


Habitat description

Estuaries, mud flats and salt marshes (Fitzpatrick et al., 2014).

Species group


Native region



World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Established - Common. Naturalised in intertidal and estuarine mud flats (Reynolds, 2002).

Native distribution

Spartina alterniflora was originally introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th century where it hybridised in the wild with Spartina maritima (species native to Europe and North Africa) producing a sterile hybrid Spartina x townsendii (Mooney & Cleland, 2001). This hybrid then underwent chromosomal doubling to produce a new, fertile species, Spartina anglica (hence the "anglica"), though this new fertile species was not recognised till 1957 and not described until 1962 (Mooney & Cleland, 2001; Reynolds, 2002).

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Further information

Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of the SSC- Species Survival Commission of the IUCN -International Union for Conservation Nature consider Spartina anglica one of its 100 Worst Invaders globally. Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe (DAISIE) project list Spartina anglica this as one of the 100 Worst Invaders in Europe.



Fitzpatrick, U., Weekes, L. & Wright, M. (2014) Identification guide to Ireland's Grasses. National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford.

Hammond, M.E.R. & Cooper, A. (2002) Spartina anglica eradication and inter-tidal recovery in Northern Ireland estuaries. In: Turning the Tide: The Eradication of Invasive Species Proceedings of the International Conference On Eradication of Island Invasives.

McCorry, M. J., & Otte, M. L. (2001). Ecological effects of Spartina anglica on the macro-invertebrate infauna of the mud flats at Bull Island, Dublin Bay, Ireland. Web Ecology, 2(1), 71-73.

Mooney, H. A., & Cleland, E. E. (2001). The evolutionary impact of invasive species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98(10), 5446-5451.

Reynolds, S.C.P. (2002) A catalogue of alien plants in Ireland. National Botanic Gardens. Glasnevin, Dublin.

Stace, C. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Veitch, C.R. & Clout, M.N. (eds). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, 1-3.

Global Invasive Species Database

Flora of Northern Ireland

CABI Datasheet

DAISIE Factsheet