What special adaptation allows this plant to grow on beach sand dunes?
This is a Sea Oat. These marvelous plants grow on the forward edge of the beach dunes, in an area of shifting sand where most other plants can't grow. They play a very important role in stabilizing the dunes, and it is illegal to pick them or damage them. Recent studies have found that they are helped by several species of fibrous fungi that grow on their roots. These fungi help clump the sand around the roots, and aid the Sea Oat in absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. The Sea Oat is also a host for nitrogen fixing bacteria, which add nutrients to the soil. This combination of helpful microorganisms gives the Sea Oat the ability to thrive in an environment which is hostile to most other plants.