Range/Geographical Distribution: Along the coast from Virginia to Florida and the Gulf Coast to Texas and south to Mexico. Also found in the Bahamas and Cuba.
Habitat: Barrier islands in foredunes and dune crests.
Description: A semitropical, perennial grass with pointed, eight to 16 inch long leaves.
Size: Can reach six feet in height.
Breeding: Flowering varies by region and flower spikelets can reach 20 inches. Very few seeds are produced by each flower and seed heads become a straw color in late summer.
Predators/Ecological Importance: The complex and dense root system of sea oats helps to trap wind-blown sands along the beach and form/maintain dunes. Seeds also provide a food source for birds and mammals.
Conservation Status: On Tybee Island it is illegal to harvest sea oats or walk on the dunes.
Interesting Facts: Sea oats are highly tolerant of sea water for short periods and thrive in salt spray conditions. Scientists believe that the salt spray may be a source of micronutrients for these plants that normally grow in the barren beach sand.
On the Coast: Sea oats are the dominant plant found along the dunes on Georgia’s barrier islands.