General Landscape Uses:
Accent grass in sunny coastal locations.
Large herbaceous grass.
About 3-4 feet in height; to 6 feet or more when in flower. Spreading from underground stems and forming large patches.
Eastern and southeastern United States west to Texas and south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies and Mexico. Absent or very rare in the upper Florida Keys.
Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.
Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.
Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.
Beach dunes and open coastal areas.
Moist, well-drained sandy soils, without humus.
Low; it grows in nutrient poor soils.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Frontline; grows in direct salt wind but away from constant salt spray.
High; does not require any supplemental water once established.
Light brown inflorescence.
All year; peak in summer.
Inconspicuous light brown caryopsis. Primarily late summer to early fall.
Wildlife and Ecology:
The most important stabilizer of sand on beach dunes. Most plants are established through vegetative reproduction.
Can be grown from seed and division.
Hammer 2004, Nelson 2003
It is illegal to collect the flower spike or seed heads in Florida, without a permit. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday
page and a 2022 post on the Treasure Coast Natives
blog about the mysteries of the Sea-oat.