Hudsonia tomentosa, usually referred to as poverty grass or beach heather, is a plant found among the dune ecosystems of Cape Cod National Seashore.

Photo by Scott Buchanan

Cape Cod National Seashore's landscapes invite exploration and discovery! The seashore hosts a diverse array of terrestrial (land), wetland, aquatic, and marine plants that are uniquely adapted to life in the coastal environment. More than 800 species comprise the vascular flora of the seashore, which are associated with a number of landscape features. For example, heathlands, grasslands, dunes, woodlands, forests, vernal pools, kettle ponds, salt marshes, freshwater marshes, intertidal zones, and seagrass beds are among the different community-types that can be distinguished by their own special kinds of plant life.

Past human activities on Cape Cod have played a major role in shaping the seashore's vegetation. Land-clearing practices by early European settlers gave rise to the seashore's extensive heathlands - a habitat that has since become globally rare. Other plant communities within the seashore are being negatively impacted as a result of human pressures on the environment.

Seashore scientists and researchers are studying plant communities to understand impacts that pose serious risks to plant diversity and ecological function. These include sea-level rise and other climate change impacts, acid deposition, ozone, groundwater withdrawal, nutrient enrichment, and encroachment by non-native invasive species.

Monitoring plant communities to determine how they are changing in time and space will help inform decision-making and development of strategies to help protect these resources.


Last updated: June 14, 2021

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