|Our Environment: Issue 16 Spring 1998|
Spinifex - Silvery Sand Grass
Spinifex is a tough coastal plant that can cope with salt spray, drought, extreme temperatures, strong winds and shifting sand. It is even more tolerant of sea spray than the exotic marram grass.
Spinifex sericeus is a type of grass that puts out strong, creeping runners or stolons across sand dunes. The plant catches sand as it blows up from the beach. Although the sand falls on to the dune and partially buries the plant, the spinifex grows through it. This is how it helps to produce sand dunes. It also stabilises the dunes by holding the sand together with its roots and stolons.
Spinifex is dioecious because it has male and female plants. The female flower looks like a big, spiky ball. It is made up of spikelets which have the seed wrapped at their base. The balls of seed are blown across the dunes on windy days, as a way of seed dispersal.
Spinifex has been introduced at the toe of the dunes in Taylors Mistake by CoastCare. After two seasons the plants are well established and spreading.
Rodney Chambers from Coast Care shows the male and female plants of spinifex at Taylors Mistake.
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