En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
5 ratings

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


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.


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



More Erosion Control Questions

Plants to stop erosion in Arizona
January 17, 2009 - I'm looking for a plant to stop erosion; I have big wash outs that are starting to erode my yard so I guess I'm looking for deep rooting plants. I live south of Tucson, Arizona. If you can advise me...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in arid region
September 29, 2008 - In semi arid south west (Phoenix), the drainage is managed by creating incised channels. Typically, the dirt channel can erode with even very low velocities of moving water. To reduce erosion therefor...
view the full question and answer

Establishing wildflowers on a slope in Virginia
August 18, 2012 - From Roanoke Virginia. I have a steep bank rising from one side of my driveway to woods above. Different areas vary from full sun, to half day shade. It is possible to carefully walk/stand on it, we a...
view the full question and answer

Stabilizing a shale slope in Virginia
April 08, 2009 - I have family members who recently built a new home in Virginia. The site required extensive excavation resulting in a large 30 foot, nearly vertical, shale wall behind the house. They now want to r...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center