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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Dave Ingram     (Photo ID #26894)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Ammophila arenaria
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend


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

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

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


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)
14 13 15
Slope Gradient (%)
1 0 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]
3 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia