Surf Grass

  FHL Marine Botany  ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::   Taxonomy | Habitat | Morphology | Life History | Ecology | Evolution


Life History

P. scouleri seed that is crescent shaped with a fibrous endocarp.

Photo by Tina Wyllie-Echeverria

Female inflourescence of P.scouleri.

Photo by R.C. Phillips

Female inflourescence in P. torreyi.

Photo by Victoria Wyllie-Echeverria

Female inflourescence of P. scouleri.

Photo by Victoria Wyllie-Echeverria




Life History phases of surf grass

Reproductive Ecology

Surf grasses can do both submarine and surface pollination in sea water. Surf grass are reproductively dioecious and grow as perennials. Adult plants are unisexual on inflorescence, having both male and female flowers on different adult plants. The female flower is called a spathe and the male flower is called a spadix (Larkum, 2006).

Staminate Flower

The male flower consists of anthers with one stamen and two free thecae. The pollen is filiform (1500um) in structure and is negatively buoyant making it capable of sinking in salt water. The pollen has no protective exine outer covering (Larkum, 2006).

Carpellate flower

The female flowers on adult surf grass blades have one carpel with two stigmas that are non – papillated.

(Larkum, 2006)


The fruit produced by surf grasses are crescent shaped with a fibrous endocarp.
Seeds tend to land in pools with articulated coralline algae. The corallines provide a nice bed for crescent seed with large fibrous endocarp to land and anchor.

 " We could not imagine a better opportunity for Phyllospadix in search of a lodging place; and it seems that Phyllospadix is, in fact, not slow to catch on, for experience showed that the more profitable way to collect Phyllospadix seed was to search at low tide, not in eelgrass itself, but rather amoung the corallines covering some flat rock just inshore from ell grass beds" (Gibbs, 1902).



Larkum, Anthony W.D., Orth, Robert J., Duarte, Carlos M. Seagrasses: Biology, Ecology and Conservation. Springer 2006. p.92

Gibbs, Ralph Erwin. Phyllospadix as a Beach-Builder. The American Naturalist, Vol. 36, No. 422 (Feb., 1902) pp. 101- 109. The University of Chicago Press for The American Society of Naturalists.