The camera and I recently wandered through the sand dunes near our home. Dunes stretch for 60 miles along Washington’s southwest coast. The largest dune fields (where we live), the Long Beach dunes, extend 19 miles. Dunes are shaped by sand grains which are blown into shapes. The many contours of sand dunes resemble waves running parallel to the ocean.
Plants adapted to dunes must tolerate wind, sand burial, sand abrasion, salt spray, water deprivation, and salty shifting soils. Besides the American and European beachgrasses it’s a good bet you may also see coastal strawberry, seashore lupine, sand verbena, sea rocket Seabeach Sandwort, beach morning glory, and beach pea. Some of these plants even have very beautiful flowers.
From a photography standpoint, I love the green of the plant leaves against the blue summer skies of late. It astounds me how such lush plants can grow in nothing but sand ~ pretty amazing if you think about it.
In the Pacific Northwest, American beachgrass is an exotic grass that spreads aggressively and now dominates the coastal fore dunes of Washington. European beachgrass, a native of Europe, was first planted in 1896 to stabilize sand in California. It spread quickly along Washington’s coast, both by natural means and cultivation. Dunegrass was the dominant grass along Washington’s dunes before the arrival of European and American beachgrass.
As you can see, it was a picture perfect day. Next time you venture out to the beach dunes please be respectful to the plants and numerous animals which make them their home. Learn more about Washington Coast Plants.
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