The white sand dunes were battered by the heat of tropical sun. Gentle ocean breeze enhanced the fresh smell of salty  fragrance of the mighty ocean. With our fingers entwined, we laboriously climbed the thick sand of the dune. Meanwhile, two balls of inflorescence Spinifex flowers were blown by the tender wind. They seemed to tantalizingly roll together. Sometimes, they were apart, one was rolling after the other. Other times they were playfully attached.

You broke the silence by saying that we were exactly looked like those two rolling balls of Spinifex grass. We were two people in love exploring the lonely white sand dunes of the Indian Ocean……….”

If you love to stroll on sand dunes or the beach near the ocean, you will probably notice this odd looking grass. When the wind is blowing, it will roll and roll until it will have a chance to get buried in the sand and start a new life. This grass often grows on the coast line and sand dunes. They have common names such as “Beach Spinifex” or “Hairy Spinifex”. These grasses  which are indigenous to the coastal areas of Australasia and Indonesia, are from Poaceae family.  The largest species are: “Spinifex sericeus” (= Spinifex hirsutus) and “Spinifex littoreus” (=Spinifex squarrosus).  S. sericeus can be found in many coastal areas in New Zealand and Australia from Queensland to Victoria , while S. Littoreus is mainly grow only on western part of Australia and Indonesia.

Beach Spinifex is perennial grass with separate male and female plants and can grow around 30 cm high. The spikes branch out by stems (stolons) and rhizomes and they can cover a large area. The greyish green leaves are sharp and fury  *furry. The leaves grow from a node which are wider on the bottom. The female flowers are rounded spikes of inflorescence that detach themselves when they are matured. The propagation can be done both by the seeds or by division.

This plant is a pretty addition to the beach and it is very important for binding the dunes to stop the sand from erosion.

Link to an interesting post on Spinifex littoreus:

http://www.plantsdontlie.com/wordpress/analogies-through-the-water-surface.html

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