Monday, September 5, 2011

Salt Marsh Pink and Sand Spurs

Looking eastward from the east end of Ocean Isle Beach, NC, this is what you see.  My husband and I spent the day here Saturday looking for  wildflowers (me) and signs of Irene (him).  Fortunately, I saw more of what I was looking for than he did.  The Brunswick Beacon's front page article about the hurricane declared "we dodged a bullet," but  these pictures indicate an impressive storm, even at Ocean Isle.

A new boardwalk, just a short distance from the east end picture above, took us through the beautiful wetlands where this native wildflower makes its home. Flooding from storms like this (which occur every year from August to October) is one of the factors that makes a perfect niche behind the dunes for Salt Marsh Pink (Sabatia sp.)

I showed you the Sabatia dodecandra growing in my tiny bog garden recently.  This is another marsh pink, perhaps S. angularis, or maybe S. campanulata.  I wasn't able to investigate closely enough to determine which it is.

Reaching down as far as possible, I was hanging over the boardwalk railing in a rather indelicate manner trying to get the zoom on my cell camera to work, the whole time swatting swarms of mosquitoes and laughing at a husband who was trying not to laugh at me!  No doubt you would find it entertaining to see a photo of this goofy photographer, but fortunately for me, amused husband didn't go that far.

Another native plant in abundance at the entrance to the boardwalk, and all around the island is  Cenchrus tribuloides, the dreaded sand spur.  If you've spent any time at the coast of North Carolina, you've had these stuck to your feet at one time or another.  Sand spurs seem to materialize on the surface of the sand, but this is where they actually come from -- except for the spurs, a regular-looking grass.

Once the spiky seedpods ripen, they fall off and then wait in the sand for a disperser to come along.  Unlucky humans will suffice, or is that sacrifice?  Your poor dog will always find them in his fur or stuck to a sensitive paw. They really hurt and they are hard to remove.


To see a few more native plants from the coastal Carolinas, take a look at these posts:

Day in the Life of a Plant Geek, Sunset Beach (Virginia creeper, sea ox-eye daisy, passion flower)
Shallotte Wildflowers (seedbox, whitetop sedge, showy rattlebox, beach pea, meadow beauty)
Prickly Pear Cactus, Ocean Isle Beach


  1. Sand spurs are evil. My poor old basset walked through a patch of them at the beach and got them all in his pads. I had to carry him to the boardwalk to pull them out. He had an amazing memory and for the rest of his life would avoid sand if at all possible.

  2. awww! poor dog. smart dog, too. they are awful, no doubt about it.