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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 09, 2016

From: Duck, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Ornamental grasses for North Carolina coastal region
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What ornamental grasses will grow in pure sand and withstand salt-laden winds in zones 8 a and 8 b?

ANSWER:

Here are some native grasses that grow in North Carolina and are salt-tolerant and will grow in sand.  You will need to be the judge of whether they should be considered ornamental.

Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass) grows well in sand and is important in stabilizing sand dunes and preventing erosion.  It is highly salt tolerant.  Here is more information from the USDA

Spartina pectinata (Prairie cordgrass) and here is more information from USDA NRCS.

 Uniola paniculata (Sea oats) and here is more information from USDA NRCS.

The Center for Coastal Resources Management (Virginia Institute of Marine Science) in its list, Teaching Marsh: Salt-tolerant Native Plants for Tidal Shoreline Banks & Slopes, gives both Spartina patens (Saltmeadow cordgrass) and Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) as being salt tolerant.  Here is more information from the USDA NRCS for Spartina patens and for Panicum virgatum. 

Information on Salt Tolerant Pasture and Reclamation Grasses from Pawnee Buttes Seeds recommends Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye) 'Mandan' as a highly salt tolerant species.  Here is more information from the USDA NRCS.

You can find more possibilities for grasses in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Program list of grasses, sedges and rushes that are Atlantic Coastal Plants for Protection & Restoration.

 

From the Image Gallery


American beach grass
Ammophila breviligulata

Prairie cordgrass
Spartina pectinata

Sea oats
Uniola paniculata

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

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