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Coastal & Shoreline: Atlantic Coast

In the eastern United States ’Cape’ American beachgrass is widely used to stabilize dunes that proteThe Atlantic Coast of the United States comprises the coastal states of Delaware, Florida, Maine, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. The lands adjacent to the Atlantic coastline are made up of sandy beaches, marshlands, bays, and barrier islands. Soils range from mineral sands to heavy organic mucks.

The area contains a vast diversity of plant life adapted to freshwater, brackish, and saline marshes and mangrove swamps, as well as terrestrial species that grow on upland sites associated with coastal dunes and barrier islands.  Conservation Plant Releases developed by the Plant Materials Program selected for use in this area have been proven to be adapted over specific zones around the Eastern Atlantic Region. Plant Fact Sheets and Plant Guides will assist you with proper plant selection, establishment, and management.

PLANTS Database Resources

Plants for Atlantic Coastal Protection & Restoration

Clicking on the scientific name will take you to detailed information in the PLANTS database. Asterisk (*) indicates those plants tolerant to some level of hydrocarbon pollution.

Grasses, Sedges, and Rushes

Scientific Name Common Name Adaptation National Wetland
Indicator Status
Ammophila breviligulata American beachgrass Dune UPL, FACU-
Distichlis spicata * saltgrass, seashore saltgrass, Inland saltgrass, spike grass, alkali grass Saline, Brackish, and Tidal Freshwater Marshes FACW+
Cladium jamaicense sawgrass Brackish and Tidal Freshwater Marshes OBL
Eleocharis cellulosa gulf coast spikerush Brackish and Tidal Freshwater Marshes OBL
Juncus effusus soft rush, common rush Tidal Freshwater Marsh FACW+, OBL
Juncus roemerianus * black needlerush Saline and Brackish Marshes OBL
Muhlenbergia capillaris hairawn muhly Dune FACU
Muhlenbergia filipes gulfhairawn muhly Brackish and Tidal Freshwater Marshes FACU
Panicum amarum Var. amarulum coastal panicgrass Dune FACU-, FAC
Panicum amarum bitter panicum Dune FACU-, FAC
Panicum hemitomon * maidencane Tidal Freshwater Marsh OBL
Paspalum vaginatum seashore paspalum Brackish and Tidal Freshwater Marshes OBL, FACW
Panicum virgatum switchgrass Brackish and Tidal Freshwater Marshes UPL, FACW
Schizachyrium maritimum gulf bluestem Dune FAC+
Schizachyrium littorale coastal little bluestem, seacoast bluestem Dune  
Schoenoplectus californicus California bulrush Tidal Freshwater Marsh OBL
Schoenoplectus robustus saltmarsh bulrush Saline and Brackish Marshes OBL
Spartina alterniflora * smooth cordgrass Saline and Brackish Marshes OBL
Spartina patens * marshay cordgrass,  saltmeadow cordgrass Saline and Brackish Marshes FACW
Spartina spartinae gulf cordgrass Brackish and Tidal Freshwater Marshes OBL, FACW
Sporobolus virginicus  seashore dropseed Saline Marsh FACW+
Uniola paniculata seaoats Dune FACU



Forbs & Wildflowers

Scientific Name Common Name Adaptation National Wetland Indicator Status
Borrichia frutescens sea oxeye daisy Saline and Brackish Marsh OBL, FACW
Canavalia rosea beach bean Dune FAC-
Chamaecrista fasciculata partridge pea Dune FACU, FACU-
Helianthus debilis beach sunflower Dune FACU, FAC
Hudsonia tomentosa beach heather Dune  
Ipomoea imperati beach morningglory Dune FACU, FAC
Ipomoea pescaprae railroad vine Dune FAC
Sesuvium portulacastrum sea purslane Saline Marsh and Dune FACW
Solidago sempervirens seaside goldenrod Saline, Brackish, and Saline Marshes and Dune FACW, FACW-


Trees & Shrubs


Scientific Name Common Name Adaptation National Wetland Indicator Status
Argusia gnaphalodes sea lavender, sea rosemary Dune FACU
Avicennia germinans black mangrove Saline Marsh and Mangrove Swamp OBL
Baccharis halimifolia eastern baccharis Saline and Brackish Marsh, and Tidal Freshwater Marshes FAC, FACW-
Celtis laevigata sugarberry, texas sugarberry, hackberry Saline Marsh, Dune FACW, UPL
Chrysobalanus icaco cocoplum Dune FACW
Coccoloba uvifera seagrape Dune FAC
Conocarpus erectus buttonwood Mangrove Swamp FACW+
Ilex cassine dahoon holly Dune FACW
Iva frutescens marsh elder, Jesuit's bark Saline and Brackish FACW, FACW+
Iva imbricata seashore elder Dune FACW, FACW-
Laguncularia racemosa white mangrove Mangrove Swamp FACW+
Lycium caroliniamum salt matrimony vine,  Carolina wolf berry, Christmas berry, and Carolina Desert
Saline Marsh, Dune FACW
Magnolia grandiflora southern magnolia Tidal Swamp FAC+, FAC-
Morella cerifera wax myrtle Tidal Freshwater Marsh, Tidal Swamps, and Dunes FAC+, FAC
Morella pensylvanica bayberry Dune FAC
Morus rubra red mulberry Saline marsh, Dune FAC, FACU
Nyssa biflora blackgum, swamp tupelo Tidal Freshwater Marsh, Tidal Swamps, and Dunes OBL
Persea palustris swamp bay Tidal Swamp  
Prunus maritima beach plum Dune  
Rhizophora mangle red mangrove Mangrove Swamp OBL
Sabal palmetto cabbage palm Brackish Marsh, Mangrove Swamp, Tidal Swamp, and Dune FAC
Suriana maritima bay cedar Dune FACW+
Taxodium distichum bald cypress Tidal Swamp OBL