Sand Beaches & Dunes

These hardy native plants can grow in loose, shifting sand with low fertility.  They can tolerate harsh, dry, hot and stormy conditions yet they are sensitive to foot and vehicle traffic.  Beach and dune plants are typically found above regular high tides in the dry beach zone.

Sand Beaches & Dunes Plant List
Sea oats (Uniola paniculata)

Warm-season grass, height 3-6 ft, seed head is a large open panicle with flat spikelets, seed heads become yellow-brown in late summer and fall

American beach grass (Ammophila brevigulata Fern)

Cool-season bunch grass with strong underground stems (rhizomes), height 2-3 ft, seed head is a spike-like panicle about 10 inches long appears in late July or August.  ‘Cape’ American beachgrass is a cultivar released from the Cape May Plant Materials Center for restoration plantings along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

Saltmeadow hay (Spartina patens)

Warm-season grass, height 1-4 ft, spreads extensively by long slender rhizomes, leaves are rolled and appear wiry, blooms from July to September.

Bitter panicum (Panicum amarum)

Robust grass spreads slowly from short strong rhizomes to form open clumps, height of 7 ft, leaves are ¼ to ½ inch wide, 7-20 inches long, smooth without hair, bluish in color