Yes! Have you seen the bright yellow sunflowers growing along the beaches of Sanibel & Captiva? They’re not the ginormous sunflowers that grow in fields and are harvested for their sunflower seeds.
These are a native Dune Sunflower (Helianthus debilis) or often just called the beach sunflower. They usually grow in small clumps or as a ground-cover along the beach.
Flowering The Shoreline
The yellow beach sunflower isn’t the only wildflower you’ll come across while walking the shoreline. Keep an eye out for the Beach Morning Glory. With its pearly white petals and yellow throat, you’ll have to look harder for this one, as it doesn’t contrast the sand color as vividly as the sunflower.
Pops of Color
Here’s one you can see from a mile away! The purple morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae) otherwise called the Railroad Vine. It has similar characteristics as the morning glory but grows more rapidly than the white petal variety.
Note: The morning glory blooms open in the morning and close with the afternoon heat… hence the name, morning glory! So plan your beach walks accordingly!
If you’re not an early bird, no worries, you’ll likely spot the Wild Blanket Flower growing along the dunes any time of the day. This highly salt-tolerant flower thrives in full sunlight and dry sandy soil. The ones pictured below show some of the flowers are in bloom, and the other furry balls are waiting to bloom.
Pictured below, you’ll see some of the flowers in bloom, and the other furry balls are buds waiting to bloom.
Protecting our Shoreline
Of course those aren’t the only variety of wild beach flowers you might see along the coastline. The Partridge Pea is a yellow flower that grows more vertically along tall grassy dunes. The Beach Verbena is another purple flower that grows near the water. Or you might see a tiny little Sea Oxeye Daisy, which grows on top of a green ground-cover vine.
Not only are these plants beautiful additions to our shoreline, but they help protect our shoreline too! Just like the sea grapes and sand dunes that they sit on, the wildflowers and plants help to gather sand and hold it together for a stronger shoreline that is less prone to beach erosion.
To learn more about coastline protection on island, visit the City of Sanibel website here.
The Coastal Star website shares more about wildflowers found along the beach. Click here to read their article, What’s Blooming At The Beach.