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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native plants of dune erosion control in Michigan

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Friday - May 30, 2008

From: New Buffalo, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native plants of dune erosion control in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We care for Lake Michigan dune near our home in New Buffalo and would like to provide erosion control with native species that will also enhance the beauty of the dune with long lasting flowers. The soil (which is a bit of a stretch as it's actually mostly sand) contains rocks from earlier large scale erosion control (concrete debris) has full sun and is generally hot and dry. Your help would be appreciated! With a plan in hand, we hope to engage the neighborhood in this project as well! Many thanks.

ANSWER:

First of all, grasses are excellent choices for erosion control because of their extensive fibrous root system that holds the soil in place. Here are some grasses that will do well on the dunes:

Ammophila breviligulata (American beachgrass)

Calamovilfa longifolia (prairie sandreed) with photos from Wisconsin Botanical Information System

Leymus mollis (American dunegrass) synonym=Elymus mollis with photos from Washington State University Extension

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Elymus lanceolatus ssp. psammophilus (Great Lakes wheat grass)

Below are other plants that are adapted to growing on the dunes:

Lathyrus japonicus (beach pea with photos from Wisconsin Botanical Information System

Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper) with photos from Wisconsin Botanical Information System

Salix cordata (heartleaf willow) with photos from Wisconsin Botanical Information System

Lithospermum caroliniense (Carolina puccoon)

Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Prunus pumila (sandcherry)

Cakile edentula (American searocket) with photos from Wisconsin Botanical Information System

Tanacetum bipinnatum ssp. huronense (Lake Huron tansy)

Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle)

While you are working on your dunes, be on the lookout for two threatened species:

1. Cirsium pitcheri (sand dune thistle) with photos and information from Center fo Plant Conservation and information from Michigan Department of Natural Resources

2. Solidago houghtonii (Houghton's goldenrod) information from Center for Plant Conservation

If you do find them, contact the Endangered Species Coordinator in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources so that they will know their location.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Coastal Dunes page has a lot useful information and you might also like to read the article, Dune/Sand Stabilization, from Michigan Department of Environment Quality that has instructions for installing plants for dune stabilization.


Ammophila breviligulata

Elymus canadensis

Lithospermum caroliniense

Campanula rotundifolia

Asclepias syriaca

Tanacetum bipinnatum ssp. huronense

Diervilla lonicera

 

 

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