Thursday, January 6, 2022

A shimmering angel in the beach dunes


Muhlenbergia capillaris var filipes

I've  become somewhat familiar with the grasses of the coastal dunes, but during my stay in Atlantic Beach in Jacksonville, FL last week I encountered a new species that really got my attention. 

I found the species as lone individual clumps and large clusters from the dune front all the way to the parking lot area. The tallest barely reached a meter in height, and the seedheads were already dry, but their striking golden hued appearance immediately caught my eye.

Muhlenbergia capillaris var filipes

The grasses had wispy inflorescence that fluttered in the breeze, with the equally slender culms swaying to and fro in unison. To my admiring eyes the scene seemed almost magical, and this was heightened even more when single individuals were bracketed by greenery.

I identified the species as Muhlenbergia capillaris var filipes, and it is a native in the area. M. capillaris is a perennial that typically inhabits sandy areas in barrier islands and coastal woodlands. Its  airy blooms can be various colors, including pink. It is valued as an ornamental, which does not surprise me at all. If you pass by one of the beach communities along the southeastern seaboard of the United States, then count yourself lucky if you encounter this beautiful species.

No comments:

Post a Comment