Marram is the most important
plant on Sable Island.
Marram traps sand. Its
roots, stems and leaves all have special adaptations. Its survival actually
depends on the continuous buildup of sand.
Marram stabilizes dunes.
As it grows upward through accumulating sand, its roots, rhizomes and
old buried stems become the skeleton of the dune. Dunes stabilized by
Marram pave the way for new habitats and a diversity of plant and animal
Look for Marram's special
adaptations to shifting sand, salt spray, wind and dryness.
American Beach Grass (Jacques Cartier, 1534)
the mouse over a number to see the accompanying text
form dense mats which trap sand and help retain soil moisture.
2. Rhizomes (underground
stems) grow from the base of the plants, outward through the sand as much
as 4 metres (12 feet) a year. New roots grow at intervals along the rhizomes.
3. Shoots of new
plants grow upwards from the fast-spreading rhizomes.
4. Stems trap sand.
5. Nodes on the
stem produce new roots as sand builds up. They replace the old and dying
6. Leaves are coarse
and spiky but can still bend in the wind. Parallel ribs allow them to
roll up tightly to slow down water loss in dry times.
7. Seeds may germinate
on the harsh open beach, or be carried by waves and ocean currents.