Invasive Species Compendium

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Spartina densiflora

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Datasheet

Spartina densiflora

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Spartina densiflora
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. densiflora, known by the common name denseflower cordgrass, is native to the coast of southern South America and has been introduced to the west coast of North America and parts of the Mediterranean coast wh...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass); flowering habit. Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, California, USA.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass); flowering habit. Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, California, USA.
CopyrightPublic Domain/released by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/via wikipedia
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass); flowering habit. Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, California, USA.
Flowering habitSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass); flowering habit. Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, California, USA.Public Domain/released by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/via wikipedia
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
TitleInflorescences
CaptionSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
Copyright©Brian Kingzett 2010/Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Vancouver Island University/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
InflorescencesSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.©Brian Kingzett 2010/Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Vancouver Island University/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). close view of inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
TitleInflorescences
CaptionSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). close view of inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
Copyright©Brian Kingzett 2010/Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Vancouver Island University/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). close view of inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
InflorescencesSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). close view of inflorescences. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.©Brian Kingzett 2010/Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Vancouver Island University/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). habit. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
TitleHabit
CaptionSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). habit. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
Copyright©Brian Kingzett 2010/Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Vancouver Island University/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Spartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). habit. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.
HabitSpartina densiflora (denseflower cordgrass). habit. Baynes Sound, Washington State, USA. September 2010.©Brian Kingzett 2010/Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Vancouver Island University/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Spartina densiflora Brongn.

Other Scientific Names

  • Chauvinia chilensis Steud.
  • Spartina juncea var. laxiflora St.-Yves
  • Spartina juncea var. montevidense (Arechav.) St.-Yves
  • Spartina montevidensis Arechav.
  • Spartina patagonica Speg.

International Common Names

  • English: Austral cordgrass; Chilean cordgrass; denseflower cordgrass; denseflowered cord grass; Humboldt Bay cordgrass; Humboldt cordgrass

Local Common Names

  • Argentina: espartillo; esparto
  • Colombia: llinto
  • Portugal: capim-praturá
  • Uruguay: espartillo; esparto

EPPO code

  • SPTDE (Spartina densiflora)

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. densiflora, known by the common name denseflower cordgrass, is native to the coast of southern South America and has been introduced to the west coast of North America and parts of the Mediterranean coast where it is a noxious weed in some areas. S. densiflora is an extremely aggressive species that outcompetes native plants and alters both the physical structure and biological composition of tidal marshes and mudflats. The rapid growth rate and lack of dormancy period make S. densiflora a threat to local biodiversity where it is invasive. The California Invasive Plant Council classifies its potential impact on native ecosystems as ‘High – Alert’, and it is listed as Class ‘A’ Noxious weed and a Quarantine weed in Oregon, and a Class ‘A’ Noxious weed in Washington and comes under the Wetland and aquatic weed quarantine (USDA-NRCS, 2016).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Spartina
  •                                 Species: Spartina densiflora

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Spartina, commonly known as cordgrass or cord-grass, is a genus of plants in the grass family. The genus consists of 15 species, including Spartina densiflora Brongn. (USDA-ARS, 2016). S. densiflora is presently one of the three most widely distributed species of the genus Spartina, along with S. alterniflora and S. anglica (Bortolus, 2006).

The first known samples of S. densiflora were collected between 1822 and 1825 in Concepcion, Chile. The species were described by Adolphe Brongniart and published in Voyage Autour du Monde 2 in 1829 (Brongniart, 1829).

In the decades after the publication of S. densiflora in 1829, more halophyte species were described in Chile (Chauvinia chilensis; Steudel, 1855), Uruguay (S. montevidensis; Arechavaleta, 1894) and Argentina (S. patagonica; Spegazzini, 1897), which are now recognized as phenotypic variations of S. densiflora (Parodi, 1919, 1967; Mobberley, 1956). But some of these names are still used incorrectly in the literature, S. montevidensis being the most common (Bortolus, 2006). Significant genetic variation is indicated by the large number of forms, varieties, subvarieties and subspecies described by Missouri Botanical Garden (2016).

S. densiflora is one of several species which produces hybrids with Spartina alterniflora (Parodi, 1919; Cabrera, 1970; Bortolus, 2001),

The generic name Spartina is derived from the Greek word ‘spartina’ (a rope made of straw, spartium), referring to the fibrous leaves. The Latin epithet densiflora means ‘dense flower’.

Description

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The following is from Barkworth (2016):

S. densiflora is a perennial grass that grows in erect, tufted clumps of slender stems that can reach 1.5 m tall. The plant generally lacks rhizomes but when present, they are short, to 10 mm thick. Culms: 27-150 cm, forming large clumps, indurate, usually with short extravaginal shoots appressed to the culms. Sheaths: glabrous, lower sheaths smooth, indurate and shining, upper sheaths dull and somewhat striate; Ligules: 1-2 mm; Blades: The blade-like narrow leaves are gray-green and rolled inward, especially when new. Leaves are 12-43 cm long, 3-8 mm wide, abaxial surfaces glabrous, adaxial surfaces and margins scabrous. Inflorescence: a panicle with dense, compact colorless flowers,10-30 cm long, 4-8 mm wide, sinuous in outline, often twisted, with 2-15 branches; Branches: 1-11 cm long, longer branches narrower than the shorter branches, all branches tightly appressed, moderately imbricate, axes not prolonged beyond the distal spikelets, with 10-30 spikelets. Spikelets: 8-14 mm, tipped with bristles; Glumes: glabrous or sparsely hispidulous, keels hispidulous, margins sparsely hispidulous; Lower glumes 4-7 mm, usually obtuse; Upper glumes 8-14 mm, 1-veined, usually acuminate; Lemmas: minutely hispidulous, keels glabrous proximally, hispidulous distally, apices acuminate to obtuse; Paleas: acuminate, keels glabrous basally, hispidulous distally; Anthers: 3-5 mm.

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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S. densiflora is native to the coastline of southern South America from southern Brazil (Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Sao Paulo), Uruguay and Argentina (Buenos Aires, Chaco, Chubut, Cordoba, Federal District, La Pampa, Rio Negro, San Luis, Santa Cruz and Santa Fe) on the east coast and Chile on the west coast. The species is introduced and naturalized in North America (Oregon, Washington, Texas and California), Morocco and Spain (USDA-ARS, 2016).

According to the USDA-NRCS (2016)S. densiflora is also present in British Columbia, Canada. And unlike USDA-ARS (2016), it does not report on presence of S. densiflora in Texas, USA. DAISIE (2016) reports that S. densiflora is also established in Portugal.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Africa

MoroccoPresentIntroduced1978 Invasive ISSG, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016Merja Zerga Lagoon

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
USAPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedlate 1800s Invasive ISSG, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016Humboldt Bay, San Francisco Bay (Estuary)
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-TexasPresentIntroducedBarkworth, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016
-WashingtonPresentIntroduced2001 Invasive ISSG, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016Grays Harbor, Race Lagoon

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016Buenos Aires, Chaco, Chubut, Cordoba, Federal District, La Pampa, Rio Negro, San Luis, Santa Cruz and Santa Fe
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ParanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
-Sao PauloPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
ChilePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
UruguayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
VenezuelaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016

Europe

PortugalPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2016Established
SpainPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2016; ISSG, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016Odiel River, Tinto River; Established

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. densiflora was first introduced to USA, to Humboldt Bay, California possibly during the 1800s by the lumber trade, and is currently spreading dramatically at several other invaded sites (Clifford, 2002). In 1976, S. densiflora was transplanted from Humboldt Bay to the San Francisco Estuary as part of a marsh restoration project adjacent to Corte Madera Creek in Marin County. S. densiflora has now spread beyond the original marsh plantings to the entire two mile length of Corte Madera Creek and is spreading beyond the creek into San Francisco Bay (California State Coastal Conservancy, 2016), where it has reappeared in areas where it was believed to be eradicated (Smith et al., 2001; Ayres et al., 2004). There are reports that suggest that the progress of S. densiflora invasions in the northeast Pacific has accelerated during the last few years in comparison with previous decades (e.g. Grossinger et al., 1998; Pickart, 2001; Smith et al., 2001). The latest invasion was recorded in 2001 at Grays Harbor (Pfauth et al., 2003). Considering its wide distribution within South America, southwest Europe and along the west coast of North Africa, the invasion of Grays Harbor suggests that this species is able to invade most estuarine environments along the west coast of the USA and Canada (Bortolus, 2006).

Only recently was S. densiflora reported in Western Europe and North Africa. The first report locating S. densiflora outside the Americas was from Spain (Tutin et al., 1980; Nieva, 1996). The introduction of S. densiflora to the European continent is considered accidental, and probably resulted from the lumber trade between South America and Spain (Nieva et al., 2001).

In recent decades, S. densiflora has aggressively spread over the Gulf of Cadiz, from Cape San Vicente, Portugal, to Gibraltar, Spain. According to Nieva et al. (2002)S. densiflora has probably already been introduced into Galicia, north-west Spain, as well.

Although S. densiflora is found at 51°33′S in Argentina, it has been suggested that this species may have physiological constraints limiting its winter production and therefore the extent of its distribution and abundance at higher latitudes in Europe (Bortolus, 2006).

S. densiflora was transported from Spain to Morocco in 1978. The introduction of the species could have been the result of a mislabelling of species for a botanical garden, or via solid ballast. S. densiflora is now established in Morocco and is reported as an invasive species (Bortolus, 2006).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
California South America late 1800s Timber trade (pathway cause) Yes California State Coastal Conservancy (2016) Introduced to Humboldt Bay, California, possibly during the nineteenth century by lumber trade
Morocco Spain 1978 Botanical gardens and zoos (pathway cause) ,
Timber trade (pathway cause)
Yes Bortolus (2006) Introduction could have been the result of a mislabel of species for a botanical garden, or via solid ballast
Spain South America 1800s-1978 Timber trade (pathway cause) Yes Nieva et al. (2001) Introduction to the European continent is considered accidental. It probably resulted from the lumber trade between South America and Spain

Risk of Introduction

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S. densiflora has been previously spread via the lumber trade, and occurence of S. densiflora populations near oyster growing areas in Washington (Tomales Bay and Puget Sound), USA, suggests human aided spread via transport of oyster spat. Seeds can also travel on tidal currents (California Invasive Plants Council, 2016).

S. densiflora is listed in the California Invasive Plant Inventory. The California Invasive Plant Council classifies the potential impact on native ecosystems as ‘High – Alert’. S. densiflora is rated as ‘High’ based on an evaluation which considers ecological impacts, invasion potential and ecological distribution (California Invasive Plants Council, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016).

S. densiflora is listed as a Class ‘A’ Noxious weed and Quarantine weed in the US state of Oregon. Also in the state of Washington, S. densiflora is listed as a Class ‘A’ Noxious weed and comes under the Wetland and aquatic weed quarantine (USDA-NRCS, 2016).

Habitat

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S. densiflora is capable of invading a broad spectrum of habitats: from brackish to hypersaline (Nieva, 1996; Kittelson and Boyd, 1997), from intertidal to strictly terrestrial (Mobberley, 1956; Clifford, 2002; Nieva et al., 2002), and from subtropical to austral. Soils that can support S. densiflora vary from well drained and oxygenated (Vicari et al., 2002), to muddy and anoxic (Cabrera and Zardini, 1978; Nicora and Rugolo de Agrasar, 1987). S. densiflora inhabits protected estuaries and bays as well as open coastlines where it successfully populates cobble beaches, hard (volcanic stones) and soft (sand, clay and limestone) rocky shores. In marshes it usually colonizes the middle and high zones (Bortolus, 2005, 2006).

In freshwater and brackish environments it shows the fastest colonization and expansion rates, probably because of the salinity stress condition in marine coastal areas (Castillo et al., 2005).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details
Wetlands Present, no further details
Rocky areas / lava flows Present, no further details
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details
Mud flats Present, no further details
Intertidal zone Present, no further details
Salt marshes Present, no further details

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number is 2n = 60 (Barkworth, 2016).

S. densiflora is one of several species which produces hybrids with Spartina alterniflora (Parodi, 1919; Cabrera, 1970; Bortolus, 2001), which makes it a dangerous threat to native plant communities (Bortolus, 2006).

Reproductive Biology

S. densiflora can reproduce both sexually and asexually, by vegetative tiller production and seed germination, but the asexual role is very small in comparison (Nieva et al., 2001). The flowering period of S. densiflora in its native area is from November to May. In Spain, the flowering period is from June to December and in the USA, from April to July (Bortolus, 2006). Within its native range, S. densiflora does not exhibit any clear dormancy period during the year, which gives it a competitive advantage over other species (Bortolus, 2006).

Populations of S. densiflora demonstrate a pattern of sequential development of identical growth units derived from tillers. S. densiflora forms live shoots to support an annual die-back phase (Castillo and Figueroa, 2009). In the USA, spring to early autumn is the time for rapid growth and development of S. densiflora. When it blooms, from April to July, it experiences the die-back phase with the loss of flowering culms (Noxious Weed Control Board, 2010).

Physiology and Phenology

S. densiflora is a perennial (EOL, 2016), and shows great phenotypic plasticity. The tiller density, biomass production, flowering period and phenotype of S. densiflora are highly variable between regions. It may vary between a tall form of 1.5 m and a short form of few centimetres tall. The density of inflorescences, spikes, spikelets, and their shape and size also vary importantly among plants (ISSG, 2016).

S. densiflora has a C4 metabolism and is able to develop different growing strategies to enable it to cope better with local environmental variables and micro-habitat conditions (Kittelson and Boyd, 1997; Nieva et al., 2005). S. densiflora shows a faster ramet turnover in exposed low marsh areas than in high marsh areas. This results in increased mechanical resistance to wave action, which favours its success in this zone (Nieva et al., 2005; Bortolus, 2006).

Population Size and Structure

S. densiflora forms large, often dense colonies consisting of tight clumps of herbage that grow quickly (EOL, 2016). In old S. densiflora grasslands, rhizomes of different ramets living together are usually packed tightly in a complex, multidirectional phalanx-growing (clumping ramets) pattern. Phalanx-growing salt-marsh plants are often considered more successful competitors than guerrilla-growing (spreading) plants, because although they grow slowly, they colonize available above- and below-ground space with closely packed modules. Guerrilla-growing plants are capable of rapid lateral expansion but with loosely packed modules. However, S. densiflora seems to be able to combine the best of both growing strategies by overlapping guerrilla clones growing in different directions, generating multi-clone phalanx-growing modules (Bortolus, 2006).

Associations

In the high marsh of Buenos Aires, Argentina, S. densiflora grows together with Salicornia ambigua (= Sarcocornia perennis), Distichlis spicata, Limonium sp., Cressa sp. and Juncus acutus (Vervoost, 1967; Cabrera, 1970; Iribarne, 2001). In this region S. densiflora is also found sharing the intertidal zone with Spartina longispica and Spartina alterniflora, which occupy the high, middle and low intertidal zones respectively (Bortolus, 2006).

Environmental Requirements  

S. densiflora grows best in freshwater and brackish marshes but it tolerates strongly saline habitats as well. The species has high Arsenic (As) tolerance, associated with the capacity to accumulate Arsenic in its roots and largely avoid its transport to the leaves (Mateos-Naranjo et al., 2012).

Soils that can support S. densiflora vary from well drained and oxygenated (Vicari et al., 2002), to muddy and anoxic (Cabrera and Zardini, 1978; Nicora and Rugolo de Agrasar, 1987). According to Calflora (2016)S. densiflora grows on soils with a pH of 5.2-8.6.

Several sources report different elevations for S. densiflora. According to Calflora (2016)S. densiflora occurs on elevations between 0-80 m. The EOL (2016) reports on an elevation in between 1-130 m. Lastly, Baird and Thieret (2016) state that S. densiflora only occurs below 10 m.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 4 27

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration47number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall4821092mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • other
  • saline
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Claviceps Pathogen not specific N

Notes on Natural Enemies

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There has been a case recorded of an aggressive spike infestation by Claviceps fungi in Argentina and Chile (Ringuelet, 1935; Fischer et al., 2005). This fungus might have a negative impact on the sexual reproductive success of S. densiflora. But until now there have been no studies evaluating the effects of this fungus on the production and reproduction of S. densiflora (Bortolus, 2006).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Botanical gardens and zoosIts introduction could have been the result of the mislabelling of a species for a botanical garden Yes Bortolus, 2006
FisheriesPossible spread via human aided transport of Oyster spat in Washington, USA Yes California Invasive Plant Council, 2016
Habitat restoration and improvementTransplanted from Humboldt Bay to the San Francisco Estuary as part of a marsh restoration project Yes California State Coastal Conservancy, 2016
Timber tradeProbably introduced from South America to the USA and the Mediterranean by lumber trade Yes California State Coastal Conservancy, 2016; Nieva et al., 2001

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Bulk freight or cargoProbably introduced from South America to the USA and the Mediterranean by lumber trade Yes California State Coastal Conservancy, 2016; Nieva et al., 2001
GermplasmIntroduction could have been the result of the mislabelling of a species for a botanical garden Yes Bortolus, 2006
WaterDispersal via tidal currents is feasible Yes California Invasive Plant Council, 2016

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Rallus longirostris obsoletus (California clapper rail)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCaliforniaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesCalifornia State Coastal Conservancy, 2016
Reithrodontomys raviventris (salt-marsh harvest mouse)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCaliforniaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesCalifornia State Coastal Conservancy, 2016

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth

Uses

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Economic Value

There are several reports on the ability of S. densiflora to accumulate toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants from the environment, which makes it possibly useful for phytoremediation.

Andrades-Moreno et al. (2014) report that S. densiflora is growing on sediments with high concentrations of heavy metals in the salt marshes of the joint estuary of Tinto and Odiel rivers, in the south-west of Spain. According to Andrades-Moreno et al. (2014), these marshes are one of the most polluted areas by heavy metals in the world.

S. densiflora demonstrated a remarkable tolerance to phenanthrene stress (phenanthrene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon). S. densiflora increased phenanthrene degradation in soils. It exhibited higher rates of disappearance of phenanthrene than other species (Redondo-Gómez et al., 2011).

S. densiflora also presents a high tolerance to arsenic (As)-induced stress. The As-tolerance of the species is associated with the capacity to accumulate As in its roots and largely avoid its transport to the leaves. This fact indicates that this species could be useful for arsenic phytostabilization purposes (Mateos-Naranjo et al., 2012).

Environmental Services

S. densiflora offers a variety of resources for birds. They use it as nest-building material, like the long-winged harrier (Circus buffoni). They find protection from predators, like the Argentinean common rail (Pardirralus sanguinolentus) and the wren-spinetail (Spartonoica maluroides), or a place to find prey (C. buffoni), and at least one of them (Rhea americana; Herrera, 2000; Isacch et al., 2001) eats S. densiflora. The edges of the Spartina marsh are important for many birds as shelter against strong cold winds (e.g. for ducks, swans and shorebirds; Bortolus et al., 1998; Martinez and Ferrero, 2001).

Several mammals find in S. densiflora marshes a last refuge in regions dominated by urban areas. The Spartina marshes, patchily distributed along the coast, serve as corridors for many mammals providing hunting, feeding and breeding areas (Bortolus, 2006).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Similar species according to ISSG (2016) are Scirpus maritimus, Spartina alterniflora, Spartina anglica, Spartina foliosa, Spartina maritima, Spartina patens and Triglochin maritima.

In California, USA, S. densiflora has often been mistaken for S. foliosa, from which it differs in its indurate culms, narrow, inrolled leaves and tendency to grow among Salicornia in the upper intertidal zone or in open mud (Barkworth, 2016).

Prevention and Control

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Control

Physical/mechanical control

For small populations of S. densiflora manual or mechanical extraction, burning or covering are management techniques that can work effectively. Mechanical removal of S. densiflora has proven to be more effective than hand removal methods. The covering method involves draping fabric that seals out sunlight and kills off the S. densiflora underneath. Studies have shown that mowing can be an effective method for control on a large scale (Kittelson and Milton, 1997; ISSG, 2016).

Flooding

Flooding has been described as one of the most important environmental factors determining the distribution of salt marsh plants. Abbas et al. (2012) have studied the impact of different water levels on the germination and establishment of S. densiflora, and the germination rate tended to decrease gradually with depth. The results show that artificial inundation of invaded marshes to a water depth of 8 cm would prevent the establishment of S. densiflora from the seed bank (Abbas et al., 2012).

Chemical control

The aquatic herbicides imazapyr or glyphosate with a surfactant are applied to S. densiflora to eradicate and control populations. These two herbicides are currently the only aquatic chemicals approved for use in estuarine environments in the state of California by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) (ISSG, 2016).

References

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Abbas AM; Rubio-Casal AE; Cires Ade; Figueroa ME; Lambert AM; Castillo JM, 2012. Effects of flooding on germination and establishment of the invasive cordgrass Spartina densiflora. Weed Research (Oxford), 52(3):269-276.

Andrades-Moreno L; Castillo Idel; Parra R; Doukkali B; Redondo-Gómez S; Pérez-Palacios P; Caviedes MA; Pajuelo E; Rodríguez-Llorente ID, 2014. Prospecting metal-resistant plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria for rhizoremediation of metal contaminated estuaries using Spartina densiflora. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 21(5):3713-3721.

Arechavaleta J, 1894. Uruguayan grasses (Las gramineas uruguayas). Anales del Museo Nacional de Montevideo, 1:376-382.

Ayres DR; Smith DL; Zaremba K; Klohr S; Strong DR, 2004. Spread of exotic cordgrasses and hybrids (Spartina spp.) in the tidal marshes of San Francisco Bay, California, USA. Biological Invasions, 6:221-231.

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09/06/2016 Original text by:

Ymkje van de Witte, Consultant, UK

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