Maritime Dry Grassland

Maritimus Siccus Campus

The dune grass and maritime dry grassland communities occupy 137 of the refuge’s 8,501 acres and tend to occur in the eastern section of the refuge. The two basic types of maritime dry grasslands cover Currituck National Wildlife Refuge are barrier flat grasslands and interdunal depressions. Barrier flat grasslands found on the overwash terraces comprise the other terrestrial grassland community. The barrier flats begin on the backside of the beach berm and cover the flat overwash terraces. Salt spray and overwash develop and maintain this community. It is common in areas where dunes are low and have not been stabilized. The vegetation of this zone is adapted to withstand frequent storm tide inundation and sand burial. It is composed of salt meadow cordgrass, seaside goldenrod, and sea rocket. In an area where overwash is less frequent, diversity and cover are greater. In addition to the above-mentioned species are marsh fleabane, sandspurs, sea pink, and ladies tresses. Dune buildup has occurred in several overwash passes and shrubs have invaded the terrace areas. Sea elder, wax myrtle, groundsel tree are common species.

Interdunal depressions occur where sand is moved from the surface forming a blowout. The depth of the depressions varies from just below to several feet above the water table. The kind of plants in the depressions depends on the depth to the water table. Dominant species in these depressions include salt meadow cordgrass, black needlerush, chairmaker’s rush, and broom sedge. Other common herbaceous species include Centella asiatica, water pennywort, aster, and water purslane. Species on the perimeter of these depressions include groundsel tree, wax myrtle, bayberry, black cherry, and live oak. Availability of fresh water, diversity of seed-producing and food plants, as well as vegetative cover provide habitat for many species of wildlife.


Facts About Maritime Dry Grassland

  • 137 acres
  • Salt meadow Cordgrass
  • Seaside Goldenrod
  • Sea Rocket
  • Marsh Fleabane
  • Sandspurs
  • Sea Pink
  • Ladies Tresses