Hudsonia tomentosa (Beach Heather)

Plant Info
Also known as: Woolly Beach-heather, False Heather, Woolly Hudsonia, Poverty Grass
Genus:Hudsonia
Family:Cistaceae (Rockrose)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:native
Status:
  • State Threatened
Habitat:sun; dunes, pine barrens, sandy beaches
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] Single flowers densely packed along branching stems in a spike-like array. Flowers are about ¼ inch wide, 5 bright yellow oval petals set about a fine spray of 9 to 18 spidery yellow stamens, surrounding a single style.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are evergreen, minute and scale-like, pressed against stems, densely covered in fine hairs giving them a grayish green cast. The many branching stems are dense and mat-like.

Notes:

An inhabitant of sunny, dry sandy soils, Beach Heather's growth habit gives all the appearances of a desert survivor. A glorious but fleeting display in bloom, it must be caught in the early hours of the day as the intensifying sun burns away the day's petals like dew on the morning grass. Beach Heather is a rare species, found primarily on sand dunes and blow-outs. According to the DNR, this rare habitat in Minnesota has been mostly destroyed due to development and misguided attempts at reforestation. Damage caused by recreational vehicles (ATVers do love their dunes) put remaining areas at risk as well. Much of the remaining dune fields in Minnesota are now under the care of the DNR, so hopefully they will be safe. Beach Heather was added to the Special Concern list in 1996 and was elevated to a Threatened species in 2013.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Helen Allison SNA in Anoka county.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Dale - McKnight Prairie down by Carleton College
on: 2014-06-01 12:46:04

Found this in the sand blowout by the eastern hill on Thursday, May 29th.

Posted by: Sean - North end of Pelican Lake, Crow Wing County
on: 2015-07-29 12:59:01

This appeared on our beach about 15 years ago and we've been letting it spread ever since. (No raking!) It holds the dunes down beautifully and all sorts of small wildlife find refuge. It has spread to the neighbors beach too.

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