• An Assateague wild horse finding shelter in the dunes.

    Assateague Island

    National Seashore MD,VA

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  • Backcountry Camping Closures

    Pope Bay, Green Run, Pine Tree & Tingles Island backcountry campsites will be closed on these dates due to hunting seasons: October 15-25, 2014; November 13-15, 2014; November 29-December 13, 2014; January 16-19, 2015 More »

Wildflowers

Sweet Everlasting and Seaside Goldenrod flowers flourish in an inter-dune area. 12 kb

Sweet Everlasting and Seaside Goldenrod

Gretchen Knapp

Wildflowers play an important role in the coastal ecosystem of Assateague Island. They serve as food sources for many animals, and their roots aid in the stabilization of sand, securing substrates that might otherwise be eroded by wind. Wildflowers flourish in every habitat on Assateague. Because of continuously changing habitat conditions, plants that can rapidly adjust tend to survive well on the island.
 
Assateague Island is the only place in Maryland where seabeach amaranth is found, and an active monitoring and management program for the species is currently underway at the park. 13 kb

Seabeach Amaranth

NPS Photo

Beach habitats tend to be sparsely vegetated, with a scattering of the few species that are specialized for survival on exposed sands. Beach-dwelling wildflowers tend to grow low to the ground and have tough, fleshy leaves to avoid water loss and withstand salt and sand blown by strong winds. One such species is the federally threatened seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus), which grows in mats of over 1 foot in diameter on the beaches of Atlantic coast barrier islands. Assateague Island is the only place in Maryland where seabeach amaranth is found, and an active monitoring and management program for the species is currently underway at the park.

 
Rose pogonia plants display a single pink flower in late spring and can be found in a variety of moist areas, including sphagnum bogs, swamps, meadows, and forests. 10 kb

Rose Pogonia

NPS photo

Other rare plants, including two species of orchids, can be found in Assateague's damp forests and wetlands. The crested fringed orchid (Platanthera cristata) lives in damp pine forests and has bright orange flowers that appear in late summer. Rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides) plants display a single pink flower in late spring and can be found in a variety of moist areas, including sphagnum bogs, swamps, meadows, and forests.

 
Rose Mallows flourish in disturbed areas such as roadsides. 15 kb

Rose Mallow

Robert and Jane Whitaker

Many of Assateague's wildflowers species flourish in disturbed areas such as roadsides. In summer, hundreds of rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) line the entrance road with large white blooms. These are joined by collections of yellow, white, purple, or pink flowers produced by various members of the aster family (Asteraceae).

Assateague's wildflowers are as varied as the changing conditions of the island. They constitute important components of the island's natural systems, while also providing beauty and enjoyment to the Seashore's many visitors.

Did You Know?

piping plover photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service image library. 4 kb

...that instead of needing to keep her eggs warm, the beach-nesting piping plover will stand over her eggs on hot days to shade them and keep them cool.