woolly beachheather

(Hudsonia tomentosa)

Conservation Status
woolly beachheather
Photo by Nancy Falkum
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S2 - Imperiled

     
  Minnesota

Threatened

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Woolly beachheather is a long-lived, low-growing, clone-forming shrub. It occurs in North America from Quebec to North Carolina west to Alberta and Minnesota. In the United States it is mostly restricted to the East Coast and the shores of the Great Lakes, but also occurs inland in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is found on beaches and sand dunes, and in open, sandy, disturbed sites. It grows in the bowl-shaped depressions (blowouts) between the crests of the dunes, areas often devoid of other vegetation.

Woolly beachheather is rare and widely scattered in Minnesota, but it is locally abundant in areas where dunes are protected by management policies. It is very sensitive to trampling when growing on open sand. It is listed as a threatened species in Minnesota.

Woolly beachheather is a 1½ to 8 (4 to 20 cm) tall, mat-forming, evergreen, perennial shrub or subshrub. It sometimes forms clumps that are wider than high, up to 80 (2 dm) wide or wider.

The stems may lay flat on the ground (prostrate) or rest on the ground with just their tips ascending (decumbent). They are slender, densely branched, up to 12 (30 cm) long, and (3 mm) in diameter. They root where the nodes touch the ground, creating clone plants when separated from the parent. Branches are ascending and up to (1.5 cm) high. The ultimate divisions (branchlets) are greenish and densely hairy at first, becoming reddish-brown and hairless or almost hairless at maturity.

The leaves are alternate, evergreen, stalkless, closely appressed to the stem, and overlapping. The leaf blades are scale-like, mostly lance egg-shaped, pointed at the tip, 132 to (1 to 3 mm) long, and 132 to 132 (0.3 to 0.6 mm) wide. The upper and lower surfaces are densely covered with gray woolly hairs. This is the feature that gives the species one part of its common name. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is many small but showy yellow flowers, each rising singly on a very short stalk in an upper leaf axil.

Each flower is ¼ to (6 to 10 mm) in diameter. There are 5 outer floral leaves (sepals), 5 petals, 8 to 20 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals (taken together, the calyx) are in two series. The two outer sepals are fused for half their length to an inner sepal. The calyx is to 3 16 (3 to 5 mm) long and is densely covered with appressed hairs. The petals are yellow, oblong or narrowly egg-shaped, and to 3 16 (3 to 5 mm) long. They fall off early, before the fruit is formed. The stamens are shorter than the style but are conspicuous above the petals. The style has a minute stigma at the tip.

The fruit is a smooth, brown, cylinder-shaped, (2.5 to 3.0 mm) long seed capsule with a single chamber. It remains enclosed by the persistent, erect, twisted, densely hairy sepals. It matures in July to early August.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

1½ to 8 (4 to 20 cm)

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Yellow

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Dry. Beaches, sand dunes, and other open sandy sites. Full sun. Sand.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to July

 
     
 

Pests and Diseases

 
 

 

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.

 
  6/10/2022      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Rare and widely scattered but locally abundant.

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  
 

Order

Malvales (mallows, rock-roses, and allies)  
 

Family

Cistaceae (rock rose)  
 

Genus

Hudsonia (goldenheather)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

A few authors recognize the variety sand golden-heather (Hudsonia tomentosa var. intermedia), but this name is misapplied to the hybrid with Hudsonia ericoides, and should be referred to as Hudsonia × spectabilis.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Hudsonia ericoides ssp. tomentosa

Hudsonia tomentosa var. tomentosa

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

beach-heath

sand golden-heather

sand-heather

woolly beachheather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Axil

The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.

 

Calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube. Plural: calyces.

 

Decumbent

Reclining on the ground but with the tip ascending.

 

Node

The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.

 

Prostrate

Laying flat on the ground.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Nancy Falkum

 
 

Landscape of the dunes and Hudsonia Tomentosa

 
    Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit   woolly beachheather  
           
 

Beach Heather flowers

 
    woolly beachheather   woolly beachheather  
           
    woolly beachheather      
           
 
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Hudsonia tomentosa
Zi W
  Hudsonia tomentosa  

 

slideshow

       
 
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  Nancy Falkum
5/27/2022

Location: Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit

 

woolly beachheather

 
           
 
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Created: 6/10/2022

Last Updated:

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