The rule of the dunes is, “stay low, stay alive.” Only low-growing plants can survive the harsh wind and salt air of the dune’s ridge top. Trees only grow as high as the ridges that protect them.
Take a look at the different plant types you encounter along the boardwalk. Near the beach, plants spread out instead of growing up. As you move inland, where there’s more moisture and shelter, plants grow taller and straighter. You’ll find Monterey pines. And as you move into the conference grounds the dune scrub plant community transitions into forest.
Many of the plants here are unique to Asilomar. Look for yellow sand verbena, with its rounded leaves; beach aster, a lavender, daisy-like flower; and the two endangered species Tidestrom’s lupine, a tiny blue and white flower; and Menzies’ wallflower, a yellow four-petaled flower. State Park Senior Environmental Scientist Tom Moss.
They're tough plants; they can withstand the salt and the blowing sand. They grow and thrive in this dry, nutrient poor soil. And yet they are very fragile and easily damaged or killed from people walking on them.