Sea Oats

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Project Description

Sea Oats

Uniola paniculata

 

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.

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