Briza caroliniana Lam.
Nevroctola maritima (Michx.) Raf.
Nevroctola paniculata (L.) Raf.
Trisiola paniculata (L.) Raf.
Uniola floridana Gand.
Uniola heterochroa Gand.
Uniola macrostachys Gand.
Uniola maritima Michx.
Common Name: Sea Oats
Uniola paniculata is an evergreen perennial grass forming large clusters of stout, erect culms 100 - 250cm tall. The leaves, which can be basal or on stems, are up to 60cm long and 12mm wide[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is an important stabilizing plant along coasts and is often encouraged and planted within its native range[
]. The plant is also sometimes grown as an ornamental, and the seed heads are sometimes used in floral arrangements[
With its vigorous root system, the plant does have the potential to become invasive[
]. It can be contained in a garden situation by restricting the roots or digging out the roots of unwanted growth - though these roots need to be either burnt or placed in a plastic bag until totally composted. It would be unwise to use the plant in soil conservation projects outside its native range[
Southeastern N. America - Delaware to Florida, west to Texas, E. Mexico; C. America - Nicaragua, Panama; Caribbean - Bahamas, Cuba to Dominican Republ
Sandhills and drifting sands on the coast[
]. Also found on salt flats[
]. Typically found on the loose sands of upper beaches, and the more exposed and accreting areas of dunes such as foredunes and dune crests[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Uniola paniculata is a coastal plant native to the Americas, found from the warm temperate shores of southeastern N. America to the tropcal shores of Panama and the Caribbean. It can be grown away from the coast in mild winter areas and, especially in provenances obtained from the north of its range, is known to be able to withstand occasional, short-lived temperatures falling to about -7°c. It is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall can be within the range 680 - 1,520mm[
Prefers a moist sandy soil, tolerating some shade[
]. Tolerates maritime exposure and saline soils[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
Sea oats thrives, and is actually stimulated, where sand is actively accumulating - the accumulation of sand stimulates the roots into more vigorous growth thus ensuring the plant spreads more rapidly. It is highly tolerant of xeric conditions, but does not tolerate water logging of the roots, which will stress or kill plants within a few days[
There are also beneficial microorganisms associated with the roots of the plant - vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are reported to increase the surface area of roots facilitating nutrient absorption and improving nutrition of sea oats communities[
Seed production in the wild is generally poor[
]. Plants in the north of the plant's range produce an average of
2.24 seeds per spikelet, (about 30% of pollinated ovaries) - this figure decreases as you move south with plants in Florida producing around 0.6 seeds[
An invasive plant, spreading freely by means of its rhizomes[
], but it is very ornamental[
]. And is well worth a place in the garden.
This species photosynthesizes by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions[
Seed - cooked and eaten as a cereal[
]. Said to have a very good flavour[
The plant is exceptionally tolerant of the harsh conditions associated with coastal beach environments, such as:- salt spray; short inundation of saltwater from storm surges; strong winds; xeric soil conditions; and rapid sand accretion. With its tought, spreading root system, it is considered an excellent pioneering species along the coast, establishing rapidly and colonizing the fore-dunes and dune crests. It is also a climax species due to its ability to stabilize the dunes and to persist in these extreme coastal beach conditions[
Seed - sow early spring in a nursery seedbed and only just cover the seed. Seeds from the north of the plant's range benefit from being kept in moist sand at around 4°c for thirty days prior to sowing, whilst seeds from the south of the plant's range not only do not require a cold treatment but their germination is impaired by it[
Division in spring[
]. The divisions can be planted immediately in situ, but more certain results can be achieved if they are first established in pots in a nursery[