Spartina (Spartina spp.), or cordgrass, was first recorded in New Zealand in 1913 after being introduced from North America. There are two species of Spartina in the Waikato Region, Spartina alterniflora and Spartina anglica.
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Spartina has been planted in many parts of the world to aid in foreshore protection, reclamation of land and stabilisation of marshes. Spartina forms dense stands in inter-tidal zones (for example, wetlands and estuaries). As a result, there is a significant loss of habitat for wading birds and fish spawning, recreational fisheries and seafood resources. Spartina will impede the growth of mangroves (an essential species creating a buffer zone between tidal waters and the land) but due to shade intolerance, will not overtake mangrove in most situations.
What it looks like
Spartina is a robust, up-right, perennial plant growing to one metre in height. It grows a massive root system including anchor roots, which descend down to one metre deep and feeding roots, which form a dense mat near the surface of the substrate. Spartina anglica readily reproduces by seed, however Spartina alterniflora rarely flowers in New Zealand. Both species spread by vigorous growing rhizomes. They prefer deep, soft fertile mud with a sandy loam texture.
Where you can find it
Spartina is found in most eastern harbours of the Coromandel Peninsula and a number of estuaries and mudflat areas on the western side of the Peninsula. It also occurs in the Aotea, Kawhia and Raglan harbours and at Port Waikato on the west coast.
Responsibility for control
Our Regional Pest Management Strategy aims to contain the spread of spartina and systematically eradicate this plant pest from the region, to a point where 'zero density' is achieved by 2012.
The Department of Conservation is the principle agency responsible for spartina control. Waikato Regional Council works with the Department of Conservation in the preparation and execution of spartina control programmes.
Spartina is declared a total control plant pest for the entire Waikato region (requiring the removal or control of all plants). The sale, propagation or distribution of the plant pest is prohibited. Spartina poses an immediate major threat to our region’s coastal environments.
If you see any suspected spartina plants please report them to your Biosecurity Plant Pest Contractor or local Department of Conservation Office.
For further information and advice contact your local Biosecurity Plant Pest Contractor.
- Visit our Waikato Regional Pest Management Strategy.
- 'What makes a pest a pest? - A guide to Waikatos pest management future'. Pick up, download or order for free from our offices.
- 'Plant me instead - Plants to use in place of common pest plants'. Pick up or order for free from our offices.
- Download the National Pest Plant Accord.
- 'Poisonous plants and fungi in New Zealand - A guide for parents, schools and child minders'. Pick up or order for $15 from our offices.