Hudsonia tomentosa (Beach Heather)
|Also known as:||Woolly Beach-heather, False Heather, Woolly Hudsonia, Poverty Grass|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
Fruit is a 3-sectioned capsule containing 3 to 6 seeds.
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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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Helen Allison SNA in Anoka county.
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