Thursday, August 18, 2016

Re-thinking

Last November, I posted photos of a plant I'd found on the shore at Oyster Bay, tentatively identifying it as a stonecrop.

Fat, yellow leaves and stems, crusted with frost.*

Last week, I looked for the plant again, to see it in its summer colours. I'm not sure I found the precise one; they're growing all along the shore, in the sand, up against the logs, and in the first few metres of the grassy belt. And the logs move about during the spring tides.

Red stems, leaves thinner than they were in winter.

I have to re-evaluate my identification. It seems to be the Seabeach sandwort, Honckenya peploides. This plant forms large mats where there's room, or twines among logs and other plants further inshore, growing from a deep taproot. The stems are often buried in the sand. It tolerates periodic immersion in salt water.

Sea sandwort stabilises and fertilizes the land it is growing on, thereby helping more demanding sea-shore plants. In time it changes the conditions in a way that they meet more plants’ demands and it eventually finds itself in retreat from the ever-increasing competition. (NatureGate; a Finnish site.)

I found plants only within a dozen or so metres into the weedy belt above the log line. Beyond that, the gumweed, burweed, and sea rocket crowd them out. The only plant growing here lower on the beach, where it gets even more salt, is the pickleweed, Salicornia pacifica.

Large mat. Out in the open, away from other plants, many mats take this doughnut shape, with bare stems in the centre, and leaves towards the outside.

"Stacked" leaves on upright stems.

Side view.

More red stems.

And this is another of the edible beach plants. The leaves can be cooked or eaten raw, or pickled. Here's an easy recipe. The seeds are tiny and hard to collect (I haven't seen any), but are also edible.

*I'm wondering, now, if the winter frost could have been frozen salty water. I'll have to check back this winter.

The sandwort plants are all along the outer edge of the bay and park.

As always, on any of my identifications, I could be wrong. Corrections are always welcome.


1 comment:

  1. I have Stonecrop growing on the cliff up at the cabin. This year it is blooming like crazy wit beautiful yellow flowers. - Margy

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