Kingdom Plantae
Sub Kingdom Tracheobionta (vascular plant)
Superdivision Spermatophyta (seed plant)
Division Magnoliophyta (flowering plant)
Class Liliopsida (monocotyledon)
Order Cyperales
Family Poaceae
Genus Ammophila
Species arenaria
Classification (L.) Link
Common Name european beachgrass

Geographic Range Mediterranean basin and Spanish and Portuguese atlantic coasts. It is native to European coasts between 30 and 63 degrees of latitude north. It was introduced to other continents to stabilize drifting sands.
Physical Characteristics
it is a stout perennial grass with horizontal and vertical rhizomes, very bushy, up to 120 centimeters tall. Horizontal rhizomes anchor the young plants and produce new shoots around the parent plant. Vertical rhizomes develop, branching from a horizontal rhizome, as sand accumulates around plants. Leaves are linear and narrow, with prickly tip, and can reach up to 90 centimeters. Where the leave attachs to the stem, there is a characteristic ligula divided into two thin segments of 10 - 30 millimeters each. The inflorescence is a spike panicle 7-30 centimeters long, composed by spikelets 9-14 millimeters long, each one carrying a flower. It flowers from May to August, mature fruits are dispersed in September and seeds germinate the following spring. Seedling survival is low as a result of desiccation, burial, and erosion. Reproduction is primarily vegetative by rhizomes, whose fragments are dispersed along the shore by wind and water.
it plays an important role in the process of dune formation. Young plants become established along the upper beach, often in the lee of driftwood or other beach plant species. As the grass grows taller, wind is deflected upward over the plant. An equilibrium is established between the growth of A. arenaria and sand deposition. The plant causes the wind to slow and sand particles to be deposited. Sand deposition stimulates growth of A. arenaria, which in turn encourages more sand deposition. Once dune is formed and stabilized by european beachgrass, other species settle. It can withstand burial by as much as one meter per year. Sand burial promotes both leaf elongation and development of vertical rhizomes from axillary buds on the horizontal stems. Internode length of vertical rhizomes varies according to the amount of sand burial and indicates seasonal sand accretion.
Habitat it occurs on coastal sand dunes throughout the world. It grows on well-drained soils with various mineral compositions. It tolerates a range of soil pH from 4.5-9.0 and soil temperatures from 10-40 C°.


Gruppo Italiano per la Ricerca sulle Orchidee Spontanee
The Nature Conservancy: Wildland Weeds Management & Research Program

Web References


Source of the photo Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti

Search with Google Ammophila arenaria

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