I was on the beach of Grand Isle this week, but I was neither tanning nor cocktailing. I spent my week helping the environment.
Along with 12-6th graders from my school, 400 bitter panicum plants were planted along the beach at Grand Isle as part of the state’s Coastal Roots Program.
What Is Coastal Roots?
Students from 3rd grade through high school in south Louisiana are taking part in this project by establishing wetland plant nurseries at their schools.You can look at ours in the garden. We are growing native plant seedlings called bitter panicum that we will plant in Grand Isle for the coastal habitat restoration project in south Louisiana. There are 40 schools across 18 parishes currently participating in the LSU Coastal Roots Program.
What is Bitter Panicum?
Bitter panicum or "running beachgrass" is a warm - season grass found on sand dunes from New England to Mexico. The principal use for bitter panicum is in coastal dune erosion control and it can also be used in stabilizing other dry areas such as spoil banks, roadsides and mine spoils.The leaves are smooth and without hair and are bluish in color. Bitter panicum is a robust grass, spreading slowly from short, strong rhizomes to form open clumps.Bitter panicum produces small quantities of seed. It is most easily propagated by cuttings.Bitter panicum is adapted to very dry sterile sites. It can withstand periods of extended drought and is somewhat winter hardy.
Bitter panicum fights beach erosion in two ways. The above ground portion of the plant slows the wind down and allows the sand to fall out of the wind and accumulate on the dune or beach. The rooted portion of the plant has an extensive root system that stabilizes and holds the sand in place.
After planting, we enjoyed a great boat ride, a scavenger hunt, and a delightful stay in a beachfront “camp”.
to the beach!
Students helping the Louisiana Coast one seedling at a time.
Bitter Panicum, y’all!