Ammophila arenaria

Marram grass

Family: Poaceae

Origin: Europe

Marram Grass in sand dunes.
Densely tufted, erect coastal grass. Forms underground rhizomes that store water during dry periods.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Erect, perennial, densely tufted grass < 1 m tall. Rhizomes are creeping. Leaves are grey/green, tightly rolled and appear cylindrical. Flowerheads are borne in November – March.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment, from 1 September 2021, you:

  • will not be allowed to breed, distribute, release or sell marram grass within the Auckland region.
  • will not be allowed to plant marram grass within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • must destroy any marram grass on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Sand dunes.


Seeds dispersed by wind. Vegetative spread from rhizomes and rhizome fragments, dispersed by water. Human-mediated dispersal through deliberate plantings to stabilise dunes.

Impact on environment

Forms extensive cover in sand dune habitats, substantially changing dune morphology. Rapidly accumulates sand, burying and displacing native dune species. Reduces shore bird nesting habitat.


Site Management

Use haloxyfop where pingao or sedges present (NB haloxyfop will kill spinifex, stunt pingao). Follow up required annually until eradicated. Begin control at windward end of infestation, or where native veg is best represented. To prevent rhizome movement, control at eroding sites & prevent physical damage of marram at other sites. Spray after rain if possible to minimise salt contamination of herbicide, esp when using glyphosate.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seed and rhizomes.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray with 125ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 125ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant or foliar spray with 150ml haloxyfop-P-methyl per 10L of water.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Marram Grass in sand with seed heads.
Seeds are spread by wind and germinate easily. Plant can also be spread by rhizome fragments if not disposed of properly.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Marram Grass on sand mound.
Hardy plant that holds sand within its tough leaves. Can change the shape of sand dunes as it accumulates around the plants.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Dense patch of Marram Grass with seed heads.
As the plant takes over it can reduce bird nesting habitat. Native coastal species struggle to survive under the build up of sand.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow