IT’S NOT SPARTINA!
Firstly, we want to clear up a common misconception; that “the beach is covered in Spartina”.
SPARTINA – PUCCINELLIA COMPARISON
Non native Common Cord Grass (Spartina anglica) has upright, spiky, dark green leaves with a 'v' shaped cross section profile if cut; a kind of supercharged lawn grass. Its strong, circular profile stems grow tall and straight and bear lightweight pale coloured flowers in late Spring / early Summer.
The native Common Saltmarsh Grass (Puccinelia maritima), by contrast, has a round profile for both stems and leaves, like extended chives. Stems eventually become red; both stem and leaf are straggly, spreading horizontally across the sand. Both Spartina and Puccinellia are good sand accretors.
Being able to identify the difference between these grasses is important to understanding what is happening on the beach at the moment. Next time you’re out on the beach go have a look and see if you can identify these two species. There are others, but Puccinellia is by far the most common.