I visited the beachtown of Seaside Heights, NJ in late September, and was instantly amazed at the endless fields of Ammophila breviligulata
(American Beach Grass) that decorated the tall dunes between the streets and the beach proper.
It turns out that the United States Army Corp of Engineers have been very busy this year, replenishing the sand dunes that protect towns from storms at sea and planting literally hundreds of thousands of the remarkable grass.
|Spikelike panicles waving int he wind|
is a foredune pioneer species that helps in the development of sand dunes by capturing sand, while its long roots help to stabilize the resulting dunes.
|Spike-like panicles wave int he wind|
It rapidly colonizes bare new dunes by sending out rhizomes with very long internodes, and from its nodes new ramets spring up. It can also withstand very high rates of sand accretion of up 1 meter per year, another trait that makes it a prime candidate for beach sand dune maintenance.
|Close up of single inflorescence|
The species is fairly easy to identify. The dorsal surface of its leaf blades are decorated with deep vertical lines, and the blades roll together towards their tips.
|Lines on leaf surface|
|Rolling near tip of leaves|
Old brown leaf sheaths wrap around the bases of the grass.
|Old leaf sheaths|
The long narrow spike-like panicles of the species are also easily spotted, and the spikelets are fairly large, making it somewhat easy to take in situ macro photos.
I have to say again how amazing it was to see the fields of A. breviligulata
, and it would be interesting to come back to see how the species prospers (or not) as the years pass.
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