Species Identification - Plants

Sea Oats - Uniola paniculata

Family: Grass


Description: This tall, subtropical grass is a major component of sand dunes on Hunting Island and the southeast US barrier islands. The large seed heads, which are wind pollinated, give the plant its common name. Its tall leaves help trap blowing sand and promote dune growth and stability. Its dense surface root systems help stabilize dune environments and build barrier islands. It also provides food and habitat for beach animals. Reproduction occurs mainly through buds around stem bases. It grows under harsh conditions primarily on dune crests where it has little competition. It needs salt spray but does not tolerate water logging.

Range: Seen on dunes and beaches from Virginia to Florida, the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and the Bahamas. It is protected by the state of South Carolina

Photos by Carl Berube

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