Sea oats (Uniola paniculata) are the most prominent plant growing on the sand dunes along the beachfront. The individual plants grow from underground stems. The leaves are up to 2 feet long and 1 inch in width. During the summer, the stems can reach up to 6 feet in height and terminate in gracefully drooping 18 inch clusters of flat, yellowish, long seed heads. These plants are an integral part of the dune ecosystem and function to trap sand as it is transported by the wind, in turn causing sand to build up and form new dune systems. It likes to grow mostly on the front and top of the dunes nearest the ocean, and sends up new plants from underground stems that quickly spread to anchor the dune. These plants, and all dune vegetation, are protected by Town ordinances and not allowed to be cut or removed because of their critical role in building dunes that help protect our island in storm events. Sea oats also provide food for wildlife, including deer, doves, grackles, sparrows, cardinals and marsh rabbits.
Native & Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas & Georgia: www.namethatplant.net/