• WordNet 3.6
    • n Spartina grass of freshwater swamps and salt marshes of Europe, Africa, America, and South Atlantic islands
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n spartina A genus of grasses, of the tribe Paniceæ. It is characterized by flowers with three glumes and a thrend-shaped two-cleft style, grouped in dense onesided commonly numerous and divergent panicled spikes with the rachis prolonged beyond the uppermost spikelet. There are 7 species, natives mostly of salt-marshes; one, S. stricta, is widely dispersed along the shores of America, Europe, and Africa; four others are found in the United States, one in South America beyond the tropics, and one in the islands of Tristan da Cunha, St. Paul, and Amsterdam. They are rigid reed-like grasses rising from a tufted or creeping base, with scaly rootstocks, very smooth sheaths, and long convolute leaves sometimes flattened at the base. Book-names for the species are marsh-grass, cord-grass, and salt-grans; four of them are among the most conspicuous maritime grasses of the United States. S. polystachya, the largest species, a stately plant with a broad stiff panicle often of fifty spikes, is known locally on the coast as creek-thatch and creek-stuff, from its growth in creeks or inlets of salt water, and from its use, when cut, as a cover for stacks of salt-hay and as bedding in stables. (See also salt reed grass, under reed-grass.) S. cynosuroides is the cord-grass of fresh-water lakes and rivers, smaller, attaining a height of about 6 feet; it occurs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and in great quantities along the Mississippi; a superior brown wrapping-paper has been made from it. S. juncea, a low turf-forming species with diminutive three- to five-forked inflorescence, sometimes called rush salt-grass, covers large tracts of salt-marsh on the Atlantic coast, is recommended for binding wet sands, and yields a tough fiber from its leaves. S. stricta, the salt-marsh grass, with very different inflorescence, bears its numerous branches rigidly appressed into a single long and slender erect spike, or sometimes two, when it is called twin-spike grass. It is said to be also used as a durable thatch; it is succulent and is eagerly eaten by cattle, imparting to their milk, butter, and flesh a strong rancid flavor locally known as a “thatchy” taste.
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In news:

Lee and Lane Rayburn, faculty members in the crop sciences department at the University of Illinois, talk about prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) they have difficulty containing their enthusiasm.
Island County Weed Control program director Judy Feldman pulls some spartina from the beach near Coupeville Wharf.
'Compass Rose': John Casey's sequel to the ' Spartina ' story.