A few halophytes from coastal central France

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 09/03/2011 - 10:40

I thought I would post some photos of a few halophytes (salt-tolerant plants) photographed during a visit last week to the east bay-ward side of Île d'Oléron on the Bay of Biscay in central France, for general interest and IDs. These plants were growing on sandy beach ridges and in the salt marsh behind the beach area, where salt water invades with the rising tide and with storms. The adaptations for salt-tolerance are quite interesting... fleshy leaves being the most obvious (such as shared by the salt-tolerant Salicornia europaea of inland alkaline sloughs on the prairies).

Beach and sandy mud flats on the bay side; sandy wash-over fan spilling into the salt marsh, and formed by a winter storm:

I could recognize the poppy, the Euphorbia (genus only) and the Eryngium, but the rest are mysteries! Do you know what they are? (And please correct me if I'm getting any of these wrong.)

Glaucium flavum:

Euphorbia paralias and Eryngium maritimum; Euphorbia paralias:

Cakile maritima, European sea-rocket - I believe you showed us this one once, Trond?

Unknown #1:

Unknown #2:

(A few more to follow...)


Submitted by Hoy on Sat, 09/03/2011 - 12:21

Nice, Lori! I visited this region 40 years ago ;)  Sweet memories. . . .

You are right, I showed the Sea Rocket once - it is however a few ecotypes/species/subspecies of that one :rolleyes:

I think #1 is rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum) and #2 is sea purslane (Halimione portulacoides).

PS Together with the Eryngium you can see the leaves of Calystegia soldanella (beach morning glory).

PS2 I just noticed the glasswort Salicornia (europea?) in the frame #2 :o

Edit: Typo correction to "samphire" - Lori.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 09/03/2011 - 22:24

David, when we were in the Gironde estuary, the tidal current was moving at >1m per second... had I fallen in the water during ebb tide, I could have been across the channel for a little visit in no time at all*...  ;D ;D  

(*Just kidding.... the direction of longshore drift would have taken me to Spain rather than to the UK!  ;D ;D)

Thank you for the IDs, Trond!  Here are a couple more:
Unknown #3 (not sure if this photo is good enough):

This looks like a goldenrod, Solidago sp.??

Another of Calystegia soldanella (beach morning glory):

Salt marsh view:

What an amazing world, that Salicornia europaea could exist both in European Atlantic coast salt marshes and prairie alkaline sloughs!!  :o

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 09/04/2011 - 05:31

Sorry I can't help you with #3 although it looks rather common!

The goldenrod is probably S. virgaurea but I have never seen it on the beach. It is very variable. In the lowland you can find huge plants with several hundred flowerheads but in the mountains the plants are rather small with 1-10 heads.