Fore-dunes; New Zealand’s/Aotearoa Fantastic Sand binders
Spinifex/raumoa (Spinifex sericeus) and pingao (Ficinia spiralis) are not only good-looking foreshore plants but are valuable for the fantastic work they can do binding sand and stopping it blowing around.
Their low growing form, long rhizomes and leaves like growing by and towards the sea, in places where the wind Will move the sand. In this volatile area their natural structure and growing habits stabilises sand movement. Spinifex/raumoa flexible leaves means they bend with the wind thus making lovely rounded, low sand dunes. Its hairy leaves hold onto sand and sea spray keeping their structure weighed down on their soft dune.
spinifex/raumoa seed heads among pingao
Jo with male spinifex flower
Pingao leaves grow on their “running” rhizomes, on and under the sand in an anchoring formation. The leaves of spinifex/raumoa are silvery grey, especially in the summer. These contrast with the brown-golden leaves of pingao.
Pingao’s stunning leaves are prized by Māori weavers, who remove only small parts of established plants for this use.
The mature female flower of spinifex/raumoa is the “tumble-weed” we see blowing along the beach towards the end of summer.
Seeds from both plants can be harvested. Pingao from it stalks in late December and spinifex/raumoa from the tumble-weeds growing near male flower heads, before they start rolling along the beach