Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Sea Oats - Uniola paniculata   L.
Members of Poaceae:
Only member of Uniola in NC.
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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AuthorL.
DistributionAlmost restricted to the Outer Banks and barrier islands; rare on the adjacent mainland.

Maritime, southeastern VA to FL, TX, and Mex.; Bahamas, West Indies.
AbundanceCommon to abundant. It acts as a sand-binder.
HabitatUnstable and semistable dunes, dune fields, and interdune swales.
See also Habitat Account for Maritime Dune Grass and Forblands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-October.
IdentificationSea Oats is one of the characteristic plants of our seashore dunes, extremely valuable for its sand-holding ability. It is one of our most easily identified grasses. Plants form patches or rows via long rhizomes, sending up many leaves 1-2 feet long and about 1 cm wide. Flowering stems routinely reach 6-7 feet, the large terminal inflorescence with arching branches. Spikelets are pale brown to tan and look vaguely like cultivated oats, each with up to 30 florets. Some people use the species in dried floral arrangements, though in many places along the coast it is or may be illegal to pick the plants, especially as doing so (as well as walking on dunes that may trample plants) can cause dunes to become more unstable.
Taxonomic CommentsOther former members of this genus now are in Chasmanthium.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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