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Altamaha Basin > Hydrology > Water Quality > Environmental Threats > Human Impacts >
       Cultural Features > Coastal Habitats > Tributaries > Plants > Animals > Sapelo Island
Coastal Habitats > Beaches > Estuaries > Barrier Islands > Marshes > Uplands > Tides > Recreation
General Interest Site

Dune Plants

The beach and dune area has a distinct zonation of plants with a gradient of vegetation from the active dunes with their salt tolerant plant species to the back dune area which is more protected from salt spray and wind. The combined effects of high temperatures, high light intensities, high evaporation, salt spray and wind severely limit the diversity of plants growing in the active dune area. In the open dune area, the most fragile and ephemeral zone is that at the high tide level and on overwash areas of the beach. Here beach hogwort (Croton punctatus), salt wort (Salsola kali) and sea-purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum) are among the species that can be found. On the active dunes sea oats (Uniola paniculata), railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae), beach sand-spur (Cenchrus tribuloides), beach pennywort (Hydrocotyle bonariensis), Spanish bayonet (Yucca spp.) and seashore elder (Iva imbricata) are found, along with some of the high tide plants.

Older, less active dunes are also more protected from wind and salt spray, and become vegetated by a greater variety of plants, including shrubs and small trees. Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), buckthorn (Bumelia tenax), Southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola), hercules club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis) and sand live-oak (Quercus geminata). The interdune areas are vegetated by many of the species found on older dunes with many additional grasses and shrub species. In recent years, the Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum Roxb.) has begun invading this area.

Animals on the Beach