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Information About Plants and Animals


Sandy Causes Demand for Dune Grass as a Storm Defense ---The Cape May Plant Materials Center was recently featured on NJ Today. The story aired on January 16, 2013, as New Jersey was recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The benefits of shoreline planting are highlighted. Watch the PBS video linked here for more on the mission and work underway at the Cape May Plant Materials Center. 

Cape May County supplies the grass that keeps the East Coast's sand dunes standing during storms --- Press of Atlantic City, Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013, By RICHARD DEGENER Staff Writer

Plants for Atlantic Coastal Restoration

The Plant Materials Program has created a “one stop” website for plant information and technical publications on coastal (tidal shoreline/dune) stabilization. Visit for helpful information.

Several of the documents provided below in PDF format are also available on the website above. These are some that have been especially useful for New Jersey communities. The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

The national NRCS website hosts this information as well: See Coastal: Atlantic Coast in the Plants and Animals section of the national website.

General Plant Information

PLANTS photo banner


Plants Database - The PLANTS Database provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. It includes names, plant symbols, checklists, distributional data, species abstracts, characteristics, images, plant links, references, crop information, and automated tools. PLANTS reduces costs by minimizing duplication and making information exchange possible across agencies and disciplines. Includes taxonomic and use information for conservation plants. You can search by the plant's common name, scientific name, or symbol.

National AgroForestry Center

"Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping" - Maryland US Fish and Wildlife Service publication, series for Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Mountains

Native Plant Information Network

Plant Conservation Alliance

Cape May Plant Materials Center

Coastal panic grassThe Cape May PMC is one of 27 Centers operated by NRCS throughout the United States. The National Plant Materials Program and the Plant Materials Centers provide conservation plant releases, publications and technical information, and tools used in plant materials work.

The 88th U.S. Congress authorized the establishment of the Cape May Plant Materials Center after a Nor’easter, known as the ‘Storm of 1962,’ caused severe damage from Long Island to the Carolina coast. The Center’s mission was to develop plant products and technology to enhance shoreline stabilization in coastal areas vulnerable to damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. The Cape May facility provides conservation services for East coast which includes significant portions North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The Cape May Plant Materials Center addresses the following priority resource issues:

  • utilizing plants to stabilize sand dunes and prevent shoreline erosion
  • developing cover crops for use on low residue crops
  • controlling wind erosion using windbreaks and herbaceous wind barriers
  • developing techniques for stabilizing eroding sites

Cape May Plant Materials Center Activity Reports and News

Information on Selected Plants developed at the Cape May Plant Materials Center

Beach PlumBeach Plum (Prunus maritima) is native shrub found inhabiting the back dune systems of the Southern New England and Middle Atlantic coast. Its white clustered flowers are bloom along the Jersey shore in early spring. Small plums are ripening now on stiff red stems. This fruit is prized by animals and humans alike and makes a great home landscaping plant.

'Cape' American Beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata) increases the protective value of sand dunes. The leafy native bunch grass spreads by rhizomes with average heights of 2 to 3 feet. Seed heads appear in late July through August.

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

Beach Plum Fact Sheet (150 kb)
"Ocean View" Beach Plum (176 kb) 
'Cape' American Beachgrass (136 kb)
'Avalon' Saltmeadow Cordgrass (182 kb)
"Wildwood" Bayberry (169 kb)

The PMC selects and propagates plant cultivars called releases that are best-suited for the East coast, and tests them in field trials. Breeder or foundation material of these plants is made available to the public through commercial nurseries.

Plant Releases

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

High Tide Germplasm Switchgrass - A Tested Germplasm (133 kb)

Coastal Germplasm Indiangrass - Source Identified Germplasm (190 kb)

Dune Crest Germplasm Coastal Little Bluestem - Source Identified Germplasm (180 kb)

A list of plant and seed vendors is available for download here or from the PMC. Contents of Cape May Plant Material Center Plant Releases - Grower Source List are updated regularly. You'll want to check periodically for updated information. (To avoid viewing cached version of list, you may need to refresh your web browser by clicking on the refresh icon on your browser's toolbar.)

The following document requires Adobe Acrobat.

Cape May Plant Materials Center: Plant Releases - Grower/Vendor List (April 28, 2004) (42.2 kb)

Technical Information

Carthage switch grassPlant technology developed through the Plant Materials Program is incorporated into various technical publications and presentations. A selection of useful documents are available for download here.

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

Plant Materials Used for Biofuel (306 kb) Plant Materials Program Fact Sheet, June 2007

Beachgrass Planting Guide (686 kb) - Provides specific guidance on the installation of American beachgrass

The Use of Native Warm Season Grasses for Critical Area Stabilization (36 kb) - Technical paper presented at the Eastern Native Grass Symposium, Baltimore, MD  1999

Fort Dix Range Berm Summary Report (720 kb)

Technical Note: Plant Species with Rooting Ability from Live Hardwood Materials for use in Soil Bioengineering Techniques (58 kb) - This technical note supports NRCS Documents: Engineering Field Manual - Chapters 16 and 18.

Selection and Use of Native Warm-Season Grass Varieties for the Mid-Atlantic Region (595 kb)

The following document requires Adobe Acrobat.

Cape May Plant Material Center Brochure (1.3 MB) - updated January 2011 - General information about the Plant Material Center operation in Cape May, New Jersey

Contact: Chris Miller, Regional Plant Materials Specialist


Last Update May 8, 2013