Natural Communities of NH -- Photo Guide

Beach grass grassland  (S1)



Beach grass grasslands
are most prominent on the foredune portion of coastal sand dune systems, but they also occur in interdune and backdune areas, and as narrow strands of vegetation along the upper edge of some beaches without dunes. Each of these settings has actively shifting sand, but the foredune examples support a greater diversity of flora. 

Characteristic vegetation: Beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata), the dominant species of this community, is well adapted to the dynamic environment of moving sand and creates extensive colonies of itself by spreading underground roots called rhizomes. Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) is also usually abundant, and the rare hairy hudsonia (Hudsonia tomentosa var. tomentosa) is occasional. Areas dominated by extensive mats of hairy hudsonia are described as a separate community type, the hudsonia maritime shrubland. Other rare species may include sea-beach needle grass (Aristida tuberculosa) and Gray's umbrella sedge (Cyperus grayi). Other species that may be present in this community include poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus), seabeach pinweed (Lechea maritima), jointweed (Polygonella articulata), and perennial umbrella sedge (Cyperus lupulinus).


Good examples of intact sand dune natural communities and systems occur south of the state line, on Plum Island in Massachusetts. The most extensive strip of beach grass grassland in New Hampshire occurs at Seabrook Beach (Seabrook). Smaller patches can be seen at Hampton Beach State Park and the mouth of Hampton Harbor inlet (Hampton), and along the upper edge of the shore in several locations at Odiorne Point State Park (Rye).


Beach grass grassland communities sometimes occur as part of larger coastal sand dune systems


Beach grass grassland on a foredune at Seabrook Beach (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Beach grass grassland on a foredune at Seabrook Beach (photo by Ben Kimball)

Beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata) in the beach grass grassland community at Seabrook Beach (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata) in the beach grass grassland community
at Seabrook Beach (photo by Ben Kimball)

Beach grass grassland community at Seabrook Beach (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Beach grass grassland community at Seabrook Beach (photo by Ben Kimball)

Narrow strip of beach grass grassland community at Odiorne Point State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Narrow strip of beach grass grassland community at Odiorne Point State Park
(photo by Ben Kimball)

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