E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link
European beachgrass
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Dave Ingram  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #26894)

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Distribution of Ammophila arenaria
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Ammophila arenaria ssp. arenaria


This species was introduced to the beaches of western North America in the mid-nineteenth century for sand dune stabilization, and can now be found from California to British Columbia. It is invasive in sand dune systems where it can produce dense homogeneous stands. It "has changed the topography of some California beach ecosystems, especially in sand dunes...and was a major cause of the destruction of native dune habitat in Oregon and Washington during the twentieth century" (Wikipedia 2009).

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this species.

Perennial grass from rhizomes, the rhizomes tough, elongate, connecting tufts; stems wiry, hollow, up to 110 cm tall.
Sheaths open, smooth; blades stiff, 2-4 mm wide, in-rolled, smooth; ligules 10-25 mm long, short-hairy, pointed, the margins entire but sometimes jagged.
Inflorescence a spikelike panicle, (10) 15-30 cm long, mostly 15-20 mm wide when pressed; glumes pale, 10-14 mm long, subequal, the upper ones longer; lemmas 8-13 mm long, shorter than the lower glumes, usually with the midribs barely continuing as short points just below the tips, the callus bearding 2-3 mm long; rachilla vestiges about 1.5 mm long; anthers about 4.5 mm long; lodicules about 1.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Sand dunes and sandy beaches in the lowland zone; locally frequent on the Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island and the lower mainland (Crescent Beach); introduced from Europe.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Ammophila arenaria

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 13 14 15
Slope Gradient (%) 0 1 3
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
280 280 280
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 3 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(1), CWH(2)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References