Dunes closest to the beach are constantly reshaped by wind and water, so the plants that live on them must be good at adapting to change. Plants are vital to the sand dune ecosystem, helping to hold the sand in place and give the landscape its shape.
At Pescadero State Beach, you can find two kinds of Dune Grass, a native species and a non- native one. Some biologists who study dune ecology believe the non-native species pictured here, European Dune Grass, may colonize the sand differently than the native, and become more of a monoculture.
Plants that make their homes in dunes tend to have deep roots and clever ways of spreading themselves out over the sand. A further-reaching plant will be better able to adapt to shifts in the sand. This example appears to be Cakile maritima, the European searocket, an invasive species well-suited to sandy habitats.
A closer look at a dune plant. Many dune plants are succulents, highly talented at absorbing and storing what water they can, to prevent drying out in the strong coastal winds. This example appears to be Cakile maritima, the European searocket, an invasive species well-suited to sandy habitats.