Shingly sand, or sandy shingle.

14th September 2010, Tuesday

There are certain plants you expect to find on a shingle beach.  There are others you expect to find on sand dunes.  But in the Dungeness area there are a limited range of species that seem to favour the edge between these two habitats, to the extent that it is difficult to determine if they are dune or shingle beach species.  One of these is saltwort Salsola kali. 

Saltwort.  Salsola kali.

This is an annual plant that grows on the drift-lines and therefore is one of the very limited range of species that forms part of the annual vegetation of driftlines for which the Dungeness area is of international significance, and is designated a Special Area of Conservation.

Apart from its localised habitat it can be recognised by it’s prostrate growth form, 1-4 cm long leaves which are suculent and tipped with a spine, giving the plant a prickly feel.

Succulent leaves with a sharp spine

Here is one of the locations where I would tend to search for this plant, at Greatstone, just above the high tide line where sand-dunes are building over the shingle ridges.

Where dunes meet shingle