S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Sporobolus alterniflorus
through the seasons

By Joey Holleman

Sporobolus alterniflorus (formerly Spartina alterniflora), the common smooth cordgrass that dominates coastal marshes in the southeastern United States changes from month to month. Follow along on a journey through a year in the marsh.

Four seasons of Spartina side by side show differences in color throughout the year.

January: Just for fun, let’s start with snow and ice on the stalks


February: Old stalks breaking off to create detritus


March: Lots of brown, with a little green at the base


April: More green taking the place of brown stalks


May: Whoa! Green stalks take over the marsh


June: Just a trace of brown peeking out above the green


July: The entire marsh has become a sea of healthy green


August: Taller, thicker, and maybe even a little greener


September: Green stalks are beginning to flower


It’s hard to see from a distance, so here’s a close-up view of a flowering stalk.


October: More flowering stalks popping up above a sea of green


November: Trees still mostly green, Sporobolus golden brown


December: Stalks turn dull brown, and weaker ones fall


Sporobolus alterniflorus grows in the intertidal zone and provides cover for waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds, plus habitat for commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish. At S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, we appreciate Sporobolus alterniflorus throughout the year!

From Seeds to Shoreline

From Seeds to Shoreline® (S2S) is South Carolina’s only salt marsh restoration program designed for students. The program trains K-12 teachers how to lead their classroom in a year-long marsh restoration.