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American Dunegrass Back to Plant Page
Elymus mollis

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About American Dunegrass (Elymus mollis) Leymus mollis (syn. Elymus mollis) is a species of grass known by the common names American dune grass, American dune wild-rye, sea lyme-grass, strand-wheat, and strand grass. Its Japanese name is hamaninniku. It is native to Asia, where it occurs in Japan, China, Korea, and Russia, and northern parts of North America, where it occurs across Canada and the northern United States, as well as Greenland. It can also be found in Iceland. This grass usually grows in coastal habitat, especially on dunes. It can be an important part of dune ecology. The grass usually grows on the foredune and on embryo dunes, less often on the backdune. It is one of the very first plants to establish in the process of ecological succession in the early stages of the development of a sand dune. In these loose dunes facing the ocean the plants tolerate salt spray, salty sand, little to no fresh water, unstable substrates, occasional inundation during storms, low nutrient levels, and abrasion by wind, water, and ice storms. Seedlings may become buried. This type of environment causes stress in a plant. The grass grows from a large rhizome that anchors it into shifting and unstable sands. When there are many plants on a dune, their rhizomes form a network that helps to stabilize it, preventing erosion. The network becomes "the skeleton of the foredune. " This makes the grass a valuable species for landscape rehabilitation in native beach habitat.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
4 ft (1.2 m)

Flower Color

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Sandy beaches


Elevation ?
-37' - 1114'

Annual Precip. ?
15.8" - 64.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.21" - 1.97"

Coldest Month ?
45.2° F - 51.0° F

Hottest Month ?
57.2° F - 68.3° F

Humidity ?
0.29 vpd - 13.44 vpd


Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Leymus mollis

Common Names
Strand-wheat, Sea Lyme-grass, American Dune Wild-rye, American Dune Grass

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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