ON THE BEACH (COASTAL PLANTS - part six)
Tesselated pavement
         Tesselated pavement with kelp

DISTICHLIS DISTICHOPHYLLA                                                   Poaceae
Australian Saltgrass

Distichlis distichophylla
A creeping grass with rigid, sharply pointed leaves in two opposite rows. The male and female flowers are on separate plants.

A plant of saline shores spreading by prostrate stems, and with the upright leafy stems terminating in branched flowering heads. The leaf blades are narrow and up to 5cm long.
Each flower head comprises several small flattened spikelets.
D. distichophylla seed

Flowering - late summer.
Cultivation by division of prostrate branches. Not usually cultivated but an important plant for soil conservation and reclaiming salt-affect areas.

No other species of  Distichlis occurs in Australia, the other twelve species being North
American.



SUAEDA AUSTRALIS                                                             Chenopodiaceae
Southern Seablite

Suaeda australis
An upright or spreading plant with more or less succulent leaves, the lower ones are often red to purplish and the flowers usually clustered.

This undershrub may be up to 80cm high or have longer straggling branches. The leaves may be opposite or alternate up to 3cm long. Upper leaves are smaller and yellowish with the flowers arising from the axils. Flowers are small and green and the floral parts later enlarge and close over the fruit.

Flowering period Spring
Cultivation - may be grown from cuttings but needs moist saline soils to do well.



CAKILE EDENTULA                                                                          Brassicaceae
American sea rocket

Cakile edentula
An introduced annual often with many branches, appearing in sandy areas on the seaward side of dunes.

A robust succulent herb about 30cm tall with four-petalled flowers coloured mauve to pale lavender. Leaves alternate, lobed or with a few blunt teeth. Seed pods are asymmetrical and about 2.5cm long.  Found on sandy and shingly shores above the high water mark.
Flowering in summer and grows from seed in saline soils.

There are no native Cakile. The European Sea Rocket, Cakile maritima, is naturalised on the strand line around the state and has pinnate lower leaves.

 

SCLEROSTEGIA ARBUSCULA                                                       Chenopodiaceae
Sclerostegia arbuscula

Sclerostegia arbuscula

A shrub to 120cm. The lower branches are hard but the upper parts are green with fleshy segments.

The flowers on this plant are insignificant and grow on short lateral or terminal branches, some segments of which may be yellow or reddish. The fruit is triangular in shape and develops from the persistent floral parts which become fleshy. The plant is subject to attack by insects which often produce colourful galls resembling berries.

Flowering: late spring.

Cultivation: Not normally cultivated and requires a saline situation.



SARCOCORNIA QUINQUEFLORA       Chenopodiaceae
Glasswort or Marsh Samphire




A small succulent shrub, the stem resembling strings of oblong beads.

Green to reddish upright stems rise to about 25cm high in clusters from prostate rooted branches. The cylindrical segments are up to 2cm long and 0.5cm in diameter and are thought to be formed by the fusion of a pair of leaves with the stem. Flowers are also fleshy and embedded in the shorter upper segments of the stems. Each flower bears two stamens that protrude and without magnification are the only noticeable evidence of flowering. The stigmas appear later on small tufts.

Flowering period:  Late spring.

Cultivation: by division but needs a salty situation to thrive.

Common in marshes and on rocky shores.
Sarcocornia blackiana occurs in similar localities but differs in the greyish-green colour and thicker flower spikes.




Sarcocornia quinqueflora flowers
Sarcocornia quinqueflora

COASTAL 1      COASTAL 2      COASTAL 3         COASTAL  4         COASTAL 5       COASTAL  6


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