Toasty sea oats

Chatted with a visitor from the Carolinas who asked about one of my favorite ornamental grasses. She wanted to know if we called it "sea oats"? Yes. "It's growing everywhere here," she said, "but back home we have a Save the Sea Oats campaign because they are endangered." Obviously, this required a bit of research.

I just love the shape of the seed bracts, and the way they look braided. The design would make beautiful earrings. But since I see these grasses along many trails and in the beds at the garden, they don't seem endangered at all.

That's because my "sea oats" are inland sea oats also known as wood oats, Chasmanthium latifolium. This grass gets two feet tall, grows in shade, and prefers riparian areas. It's useful in preventing erosion along stream beds.

The Carolina coastal sea oats grass is Uniola paniculata L. Whether or not it is endangered is disputed, but it is definitely desirable. The grass gets six feet tall and its root prevent dune erosion. The seeds are apparently tasty.

One of my favorite rants is that children don't know that food comes from farms and gardens. I am humbled to admit I know nothing about where or how oats are grown, even though I ate Cheerios for breakfast six mornings a week during my Wonder Years.

And, if I embroidered a design from this photo, I would be sewing wild oats....

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I love sea oats, too! But I have not eaten any.