Marram or Beach grass

Ammophila breviligulata

Common Name: Marram or beach grass

  • Smooth stems, about 20-40 inches tall.
  • Leaves are smooth and about 1/8th to 3/8th wide. Scratchy on top.
  • Flowers in early summer. Dense heads, about an inch wide.

Native or Invasive: Native perennial

Characteristics: Marram or beach grass is likely familiar to anyone who has visited a Great Lakes beach. It is a tall, smooth grass with dense, compact heads that grows in tight colonies on the beach. It can be found growing throughout the coastal areas of the Great Lakes region, along Lake Champlain and down the Atlantic coast as far south as North Carolina. Marram is one of several common grasses that grow in the upland area of the beach, providing a critical service: they bind blowing sand by stabilizing the soil with their many rhizomes (stem like roots). The rhizomes, which form large, underground mats, also serve as good habitats for plants that are not able to establish themselves as easily in the shifting sand.

Habitat: Dunes and dry sand.

Fun Fact: The scientific name of the marram grass, ammophila, is Greek. It comes from the word ammos, meaning sand and philein meaning to love – literally meaning that it loves to grow in sand.

Ethnobotanical Uses: None known.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.