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Vascular Plants of California
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Ammophila arenaria

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to woody perennial herb; roots generally fibrous. Stem: generally round, hollow; nodes swollen, solid. Leaf: alternate, 2-ranked, generally linear, parallel-veined; sheath generally open; ligule membranous or hairy, at blade base. Inflorescence: various (of generally many spikelets). Spikelet: glumes generally 2; florets (lemma, palea, flower) 1--many; lemma generally membranous, sometimes glume-like; palea generally +- transparent, +- enclosed by lemma. Flower: generally bisexual, minute; perianth vestigial; stamens generally 3; stigmas generally 2, generally plumose. Fruit: grain, sometimes achene- or utricle-like.
Genera In Family: 650--900 genera; +- 10550 species: worldwide; greatest economic importance of any family (wheat, rice, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane, forage crops, ornamental, weeds; thatching, weaving, building materials). Note: Generally wind-pollinated. Achnatherum, Ampelodesmos, Hesperostipa, Nassella, Piptatherum, Piptochaetium, Ptilagrostis moved to Stipa; Elytrigia, Leymus, Pascopyrum, Pseudoroegneria, Taeniatherum to Elymus; Hierochloe to Anthoxanthum; Lolium, Vulpia to Festuca; Lycurus to Muhlenbergia; Monanthochloe to Distichlis; Pleuraphis to Hilaria; Rhynchelytrum to Melinis. The following taxa (in genera not included here), recorded in California from historical collections or reported in literature, are extirpated, lacking vouchers, or not considered naturalized: Acrachne racemosa (Roth) Ohwi, Allolepis texana (Vasey) Soderstr. & H.F. Decker, Amphibromus nervosus (Hook. f.) Baill., Axonopus affinis Chase, Axonopus fissifolius (Raddi) Kuhlm., Coix lacryma-jobi L., Cutandia memphitica (Spreng.) K. Richt., Dinebra retroflexa (Vahl) Panz., Eremochloa ciliaris (L.) Merr., Eustachys distichophylla (Lag.) Nees, Gaudinia fragilis (L.) P. Beauv., Miscanthus sinensis Andersson, Neyraudia arundinacea (L.) Henrard, Phyllostachys aurea Rivière & C. Rivière, Phyllostachys bambusoides Siebold & Zuccarini, Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) Clayton, Schedonnardus paniculatus (Nutt.) Branner & Coville, Schizachyrium cirratum (Hack.) Wooton & Standl., Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash, Themeda quadrivalvis (L.) Kuntze, Thysanolaena latifolia (Hornem.) Honda, Tribolium obliterum (Hemsl.) Renvoize, Zea mays L., Zizania palustris L. var. interior (Fassett) Dore, Zoysia japonica Steud. Paspalum pubiflorum E. Fourn., Paspalum quadrifarium Lam., are now reported for southern California (J Bot Res Inst Texas 4:761--770). See Glossary p. 30 for illustrations of general family characteristics.
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr., except as noted
Scientific Editor: James P. Smith, Jr., J. Travis Columbus, Dieter H. Wilken.
Genus: AmmophilaView Description 

Habit: Perennial herb with long, thick rhizomes. Stem: clumped, stiff, erect. Leaf: basal and cauline, erect; ligule membranous, acute; blade inrolled. Inflorescence: panicle-like. Spikelet: subsessile, laterally compressed, strongly keeled; floret 1; glumes +- > floret, firmly membranous, obtuse to acuminate, lower generally 1-veined, upper 3-veined; callus hairs long, tufted; floret bisexual, breaking above glumes; lemma firmly membranous, 5--7-veined; palea = lemma, membranous.
Species In Genus: 4 species: coastal eastern North America, Europe. Etymology: (Greek: sand loving)
eFlora Treatment Author: Dieter H. Wilken
Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link
Stem: 5--12 dm. Leaf: 4--11 dm; ligule 1--3 cm, acute; blade 2--5 mm wide. Inflorescence: 15--30 cm, +- 2 cm wide, cylindric. Spikelet: 10--13 mm; callus hairs 2--4 mm; lemma 8--10 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=28.
Ecology: Sand dunes; Elevation: < 240 m. Bioregional Distribution: NCo, CCo, SCo, s ChI (San Nicolas Island); Distribution Outside California: native to northern Europe. Flowering Time: May--Aug Note: Cult for dune stabilization, baskets, brooms. If recognized taxonomically, plants from central SCo (Orange Co.), northern CCo (Angel Island), with ligules 1--5 mm, firm, minutely ciliate, assignable to Ammophila breviligulata Fernald, native to eastern United States, common on shores of the Great Lakes.
Jepson eFlora Author: Dieter H. Wilken
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Botanical illustration including Ammophila arenaria

botanical illustration including Ammophila arenaria


Citation for this treatment: Dieter H. Wilken 2012, Ammophila arenaria, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 11, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 11, 2021.

Ammophila arenaria
click for enlargement
© 2016 Steve Matson
Ammophila arenaria
click for enlargement
© 2009 Neal Kramer
Ammophila arenaria
click for enlargement
© 2020 Neal Kramer
Ammophila arenaria
click for enlargement
© 2016 Steve Matson
Ammophila arenaria
click for enlargement
© 2016 Steve Matson
Ammophila arenaria
click for enlargement
© 2020 Neal Kramer

More photos of Ammophila arenaria in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Ammophila arenaria:
NCo, CCo, SCo, s ChI (San Nicolas Island)
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).