Far Out Flora

Salty Succulents

| 6 Comments

Twice a year Ocean Beach gets super low tides which occur around the Summer and Winter Solstices.  Usually this stretch of beach by the Cliff House is under water, but the low tides allowed me to take a quick stroll.

Ocean Beach at super low tide.

Ocean Beach at super low tide.

It is cool how well succulents can adapt.  Here I found some succulents that get constant salty ocean spray, but still thrive.

Strangle little succulent.

Strangle little succulent.

Frankly, I am not familiar with this cute succulent above.  It had succulent leaves about 2-3 in long and 1/2 in wide, with 2 in pipe cleaner like flowers.

Beach Succulents.

Beach Succulents.

These marginal plants are nature’s way to keep down erosion, and also facilitate the process of creating new soil.  Plants grow and die, and capture other debris…all helping make new soil over time.

Detail of the beach succulents.

Detail of the beach succulents.

River canyon of succulents.

River canyon of succulents.

Do these succulent really love salt water?  Well, it would be better to say they are salt tolerant.  Here is the skinny on what I have figured out.  Succulents are efficient at storing water in their leaves.  When the rainy season occurs, they soak up more moisture when the salt concentrations are lower. Also, some succulents have special parts in their plant cells that help pump out salts which allow the plant to use salty water for moisture.  Are there any experts out there on this topic that can explain how it works?

Succulents getting constant waves of salt water.

Succulents getting constant waves of salt water.

Some other salt tolerant succulents include many species of Yucca, Agave, Opuntia, and Sedum…and this ice plant species above.

– Far Out Flora

6 Comments

  1. aloha meghan,

    loved your information on these beach succulents, amazing how they survive these harsh environments and still look beautiful…i’ve just visited the coastal trail along marshal and baker beach and the wildflower show is spectacular.

  2. I am obsessed with the beach, and I love succulents. This post made me want to head up there!

  3. Haven’t been out to the Cliff House in years, and have never seen it from the beach side! I didn’t realize salt tolerant meant they’re actually processing salt water. Amazing.

    • There are two sure times to be able to take a hike in front of the Cliff House…mid June usually around 4-7 AM, and mid December around 4-7PM. Frankly, December is a lot more fun.

  4. The ‘strange little succulent’ isn’t one – though the leaves can be described that way. It’s plantago maritima – seaside plantain or dune plantain (you get the idea..). It’s a CA native plant.

  5. Awesome blog on seaside succulents. I have lived near the coast all my life and love the native plants that emerge in micro environments. :)

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