The Hairy Spinifex is essential in helping make up the fragile dune ecosystems along the Great Ocean Road Coast.
Our Environmental Education Leader Hilary Bouma explains why these guys are so important for our coastal environment:
This is the female flower head which rolls across the sandy beaches and dunes like a tumbleweed at this time of year.
They are really important pioneering plants that help hold the sand dunes together and prevent erosion. Essentially they are the foundation of the dunes that create a natural protection barrier between the ocean and the land from high tides and storms in particular.
The hairy spinifex are so well adapted to living on the edge of the dune (above the high tide mark). Key features these guys have are:
- hairy leaves to help reduce evaporation
- silver colouring to reflect the sun and heat
- amazing root systems that bind the dune together so that other plants and animals can survive further back up the dune.
Hilary says she loves educating the public about the importance of the hairy spinifex as it is a core plant for the establishment of the dunes along the coast and encourages everyone to help protect the dunes.
“It is important we makes sure we pop these guys back in the dunes to let them recolonise, especially after the busy summer season.
“There have been sightings of people illegally accessing the fragile dune ecosystems over the summer, so it’s essential we help these dunes recover by ensuring the vegetation stays in place,” she said.
The hairy spinifex relies on the wind to help distribute the seeds to spread the stabilising plant across the coast.
The Great Ocean Road Coast want everyone to love, protect and enjoy our beautiful coast as much as we do, so we offer schools, groups and individuals of all ages opportunities to learn more about the coast and coastal environments.
Find out more about our FREE environmental education programs on our website.