The plants of the coastal strand community are adapted to saline conditions, poor soils, and long periods of drought. Perennial species are often deciduous or possess succulent leafs as both are a means of avoiding losing moisture to transpiration. Annual species are characterized by fast growing succulent herbs. Coastal strand occurs between the ocean and inland habitat, receiving terrestrial and marine influences.
Beach Evening Primrose (Camissonia cheiranthfolia)
A perennial, mat forming member of the Onagraceae family, Beach Evening Primrose is one of the dominant natives of the coastal strand plant community. They are ecologically important as they act as ecosystem engineers, providing sand stabilization and dune formation along our shorelines. To survive on exposed beaches where little shade exists, small hairs or trichomes cover the leaves and provide a decrease in sun exposure as well as a mechanism to capture moisture from coastal fog.
Salt Heliotrope (Heliotropium curvassavicum)
This perennial herb is a low growing (6-12in) and forms a spreading. It is adapted to the strand environment as it has succulent leaves capable of avoiding water loss. The leaves can be poisonous if consumed by humans or pets.
Coast Woolly Heads (Nemacaulis denudate)
Coast Woolly Heads are annual herbaceous plant that grows prostrate along the ground. They are salt tolerant and are found in the sand dunes along the California and Baja California coastline. Coast Woolly Heads are potential candidate for federal endangered species listing due to the loss of habitat from coast development and beach grooming practices.
The plants of this community are adapted to hyper saline conditions, including periods of inundation of salt or brackish water. For this reason, many of these plants have salt avoidance strategies including salt excretion, or storage. Another major obstacle to plants living in this community is the ability to get oxygen to the roots, which in many cases is completed through root adaptions such as adventitious roots or arencyma tissue.
Pickleweed (Salicornia virginica)
Known for its fleshy and succulent stems, Pickleweed resembles pickled cucumbers. It is highly adapted to life in salty or brackish waters of the marsh as it does not require air passage to the roots and accumulates salt in the leaves which turn purple and break off when salt accumulation is high. Ecologically, Pickleweed supports habitat for several species of animals in the marsh including the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.
Saltwort (Batis maritima)
A salt tolerant, low growing perennial, Saltwort is often found in the same area as Pickleweed. The stems and leaves are light green to yellowish. The plant is used as a food resource by humans, as the seeds are high in many essential minerals. The plant is an early colonizer of disturbed area, making it ecologically important for erosion control.
Salt Marsh Bird’s Beak (Cordylanthus maritimus)
This rare plant grows in the upper tidal reaches of salt marshes along the California coast. It is an annual growing to only 8-10 inches tall and produces a unique oblong flower resembling that if a bird’s beak. The stem is purple and the cone shaped flowers are usually white with yellow tips. Living in the marsh, the plant is halophytic.
Cordgrass (Sportina folinosa)
A perennial plant that inhabits intertidal mud flats, this plant has a roost system known as a creeping rhizome which aids in asexual reproduction. The plant is a salt excreter, disposing of absorbed salt through glands on the leaf. This plant is of particular importance to the ecology of Newport Bay as it provides important nesting habitat for the Light Footed Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris levipes)
Saltgrass (Distichlis spicata)
Salt Grass inhabits the upper marsh, with less tolerance of salt water inundation than Cordgrass. This species is also a salt excreter and was a source of salt for Native Americans.
Sea Rocket Black Mustard Ice Plant
(Cakile maritime) (Brassica niger) (Carpus chilensis and edulis)
Wild Radish Spanish Sunflower Artichoke Thistle
(Raphanus sativus) (Pulicaria paludosa) (Cynara cardunculus)
Sweet Fennel European Grasses Crystalline Ice Plant
(Foeniculum vulgare) Various Species of Poaceae (Mesembryanthemum