American Beachgrass (Breviligulata)

The American Beachgrass (Breviligulata) is generally described as a perennial graminoid. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer and fall . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until summer. Leaves are retained year to year. The American Beachgrass (Breviligulata) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical American Beachgrass (Breviligulata) will reach up to 2.5 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The American Beachgrass (Breviligulata) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, sprigs. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Dune Stabilization: Major use is to stabilize moving sand along the Atlantic seacoast and Great Lakes region. It is the best species for the initial stabilization of frontal dunes.

Revegetation: Useful as an erosion control plant on nondune areas where soils are very sandy or inherently droughty and the site conditions make establishment of seeded species very difficult. In this application, the beachgrass may only survive a few years, but it plays a valuable role in jump-starting plant succession. Also used on soils high in salinity, such as industrial waste needing vegetative cover.

General Characteristics

General: Grass Family (Poaceae). American beachgrass, is a leafy, spreading, rhizomatous, native, bunch grass with many stems per clump. It may reach a height of two to three feet. The seed head is a spikelike panicle, about ten inches long, and appears in late July or August. Leaves are long and narrow, and may become rolled or folded as it matures.

One outstanding growth characteristic is the strong underground stems (rhizomes) that spread beneath the sand and give rise to many new plants. Its vigorous growth enables the plant to withstand heavy deposits of sand and grow up through it.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

Adaptation: It is native to the midAtlantic coastal region from Maine to North Carolina, and the Great Lakes region. It will grow on inland sites, high in sand and/or saline content, provided applications of fertilizers containing nitrogen are made. Requires a sunny position in a light, well-drained soil and is very tolerant of severe maritime exposure. The plant has a deep, strong and extensively creeping rhizome, and can become invasive when growing in suitable conditions. This ability to colonize makes this grass very valuable for dune stabilization.

Planting: The best time to plant beach grass is from October 1 to March 30 in the Mid-Atlantic region, but may be extended to April 30 in New England in most seasons. If properly planted, good survival can be expected at any time during this period, except when soil is frozen. Summer plantings are not satisfactory.

American beachgrass can be planted either by hand or by mechanical equipment designed for this work. The stems of plants (culms) are used for planting stock. Two to three culms are planted per hole. Space plants 18 by 18 unless wind erosion is severe, then spacing is reduced to 12” by 12”. Stagger the plantings in alternate rows to provide maximum erosion control. On very stable areas where wind is not a factor, a spacing of 24 by 24 is suitable. An 18” by 18 spacing requires 58,500 culms per acre, or 1,350 culms per 1,000 square feet.

Beachgrass culms must be planted at least 8 deep. This prevents plants from drying out, as well as being blown out by the wind. A tiling or ditching spade is an excellent tool for opening the planting hole. The culms and roots must be kept moist before and during planting. Success of planting will increase if the stock is dormant or has made very little growth.

Fertilizer properly applied is the key to good vigorous growth, as coastal sands are rather infertile. Apply fertilizer 30 days after planting, but no earlier than April 1 in the Mid-Atlantic and May 1 in New England. Inorganic, granular fertilizers high in nitrogen are best, if available (N-P-K analysis of 30-10-0, 16-8-8 or 10-10-10). Split the fertilizer applications: One in spring, another early summer, and a third in late summer, only in the establishment year. Apply no more than 1 lb. of N/1000 sq. ft .in a single application.

General Upkeep and Control

Once the stand is well established the rate of fertilizer applied can be reduced by half, or applied only when the stand appears to be weakening, based on local soil test results. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic that bends or breaks the culms will seriously damage the plants and may kill them if traffic is intensive.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring, Summer, Fall
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Rhizomatous
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 2.5
Vegetative Spread Moderate
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance None
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Summer
Seed Spread Rate None
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Sprigs
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -28
Soil Depth for Roots 20
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.8–7.8 pH
Precipitation Range 35–35 inches/yr
Planting Density 10890–43560 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 20
Minimum Frost-Free Days 130 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance High
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention Yes
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant Yes
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA