WALKING DUNES
Amagansett, Suffolk County, NY


History:

Here among the dunes, they filmed the movie "The Sheik" with Rudolph Valentino.


PLANT LIST:
Judith Fitzgerald and Dr. Patrick L. Cooney


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Amelanchier canadensis (coastal shadbush) *
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)

Shrubs:
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry) *
Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heather)
Ilex glabra (inkberry holly)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Prunus maritima (beach plum) *
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)
Rosa rugosa (wrinkled rose)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea)?
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Rubus sp. (dewberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) *
Vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry)

Vines:
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
(sickle-leaved aster)?
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Artemisia stelleriana (dusty miller)
Calopogon tuberosus (grass pink) in September
Drosera filiformis (thread-leaf sundew)
Drosera intermedia (spatulate-leaved sundew)
Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew) Lathyrus maritimus (beach pea)
Lechea sp. (pinweed)
Linaria canadensis (blue toadflax) *
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Opuntia humifusa (prickly pear cactus)
Pogonia ophioglossoides (rose pogonia) in September
Polygonatum stellatum (starry Solomon's seal) *
Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod)
Trientalis borealis (starflower)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Viola lanceolata (lanceolate-leaved violet) *

Sedges:
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Grasses:
Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)

Ferns and fern allies:
Lycopodium tristachyum (clubmoss) found by Skip Blanchard

Other:
earth star
old man's beard
reindeer lichen


June 20, 1981

I arrived at the Lobster Roll, our designated "meeting place" at noon, accompanied by my daughter Laurie. Laurie and I walked to the strand and examined the vegetation on the dunes bordering the ocean. Among the species encountered were:

Ammophila (dune grass) which dominated the foredunes
While,
Rhus radicans
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Prunus maritima (beach plum)
Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod)
Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heather)
Arenaria caroliniana (pine barren sandwort)
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry)
Artemisia stellariana (dusty miller)
Lathyrus japonica (beach pea)
were found in dune depressions.

We hiked back to the Lobster Roll where we met the members of our party and then proceeded to the walking dunes, the highest, most spectacular dunes on Long Island.

We were fortunate to have Dr. Ann F. Johnson accompany us on this field trip, since Dr. Johnson recently published in Torreya a paper on the plant communities of the Napeague Dunes. Dr. Johnson has described the walking dunes as a "stretch of sand 6 km long by 1.5 km wide which heal a break in the Ronkonkama moraine between the towns of Amagansett and Montauk, N.Y. The source of sand for this deposit is wave erosion of the sea cliffs of glacial till forming Montauk Point."

Dr. Johnson listed eight plant communities in her report and reported on three of these. We briefly examined the following plant communities on our trip: the dune community dominated by Ammophila breviligulata (dune grass) and a relic Pinus rigida (pitch pine) -- Quercus velutina (black oak) community. Stems of pitch pine and black oak are being uncovered by shifting sand. Unfortunately, as fast as the trees are uncovered, vandals burn or cut the trees for fire wood. North of the area visited by the group are dead trees 3 meters or more tall.

Most of our time was spent examining the plants in the damp depression. In 1977, the area was inhabited by millions of individuals of Drosera rotundifolia; today the Drosera population has diminished to several hundred thousand. The most spectacular aspect of the depression was the myriad of orchids, Pogonia ophioglossoides (rose pogonia) and Calopogon pulchellus (grass pink), that were in flower. I know of no other area of Long Island where these two orchids are found in such great abundance. Other species noted by the group included: Phragmites communis (tall reed grass), Lycopodium clavatum (club moss), Carex spp. (Sedge), Cyperus spp. (Sedge) and Juncus spp. (Rushes).

Attendance was 6. Leader, Richard Stalter.


June 19, 1982

A group of three Torreyites, including the field trip leader, examined the walking dunes at Napeague Harbor, New York. The present dune system moves in a southerly to easterly direction from three to five feet per year, which accounts for the name of the site. The moving sands have uncovered a relict forest of pitch pine and black oak, that had been buried years ago by shifting sands. The exposed trunks of these trees ranged from one to five feet tall. Taller exposed trees of the same species may be observed in an area approximately one half mil (ca 1 km) northeast of the present area.

A heavy rain prevented us from observing this easterly site. The extant forest is similar to the relict forest of pitch pine and black oak. Gaylussacia baccata (huckleberry) is the dominant shrub while Deschampsia flexuosa (wavy hairgrass) is the dominant ground cover species.

The bog with its myriad of orchids, Pogonia ophioglossoides and Calopogon pulchellus, was filled with rain water, a reminder of a severe storm that produced rainfall amounts of one foot in portions of central Connecticut. The bog contains the largest numbers of Pogonia and Calopogon in any habitat on Long island. The soggy group proceeded back to the shores of Napeague Harbor where we examined Fucus vesiculosus (rockweed) and Codium sp. Wracks of eel grass (Zoster marina) were evident on the shoreline. On the banks of the harbor above the normal tides were observed Ammophila breviligulata (dune grass), Rhus radicans (poison ivy), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod), Artemisia stelleriana (dusty miller), Lathyrus japonicus (beach pea), Arenaria peploides (sea chickweed), Prunus serotina (black cherry) and Prunus maritima (beach plum). Attendance was 3, field trip leader Richard Stalter.


Walking Dunes
 

Johnson, Ann F. 1985. A Guide to the Plant Communities of the Napeague Dunes, Long Island, New York. Mattituck, New York: copy right by Ann F. Johnson, Southampton, NY.


Trees:
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Alnus rugosa (speckled alder)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heather)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry)

Vines:
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)

Herbs:
Calopogon pulchellus (calopogon)
Lycopodium inundatum (creping clubmoss)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Pogonia ophioglossoides (rose pogonia)
Trientalis borealis (starflower)
Xyris torta (yellow-eyed grass)

Grasses:
Ammophila breviligulata (American beachgrass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem grass)

Ferns:
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)