Included here is the Atlantic Coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

Iberian Atlantic Coastal Dunes (Portugal)

Study based on dunes south of Carvoeiro Cape (Costa 2000)

Here the dominant taxa include Cakile maritima subsp. maritima, Euphorbia peplis and Salola kali. Honkenya peploides may also be present but becomes more common north of Peniche.

Embryonic Dunes
The dominant species of this early successional habitat is the sand binding grass Elymus farctus subsp. borealis-atlanticus, together with Calystegia soldanella, Euphorbia paralias, Eryngium maritimum and Pancratium maritimu.

Depending on location two associations have been recorded in this zone. From the Basque country to Penishe the main species are Ammophila arenaria subsp. australis, Calystegia soldanella, Eryngium maritimum, Medicago marina, and Otanthus maritimus. South of this zone Ammophila arenaria subsp. australis, continues to be the dominant sand binding grass, but the Mediterranean species Lotus creticus also becomes abundant. Also indendified here is a subassociation characterised by the local endemic Armeria welwitschii subsp. welwitschii occurrring in areas where there is contact between mobile and stable sand. Other species typical of this zone include Crucianella maritima, Helichrysum picardi, Ononis natrix subsp. ramosissima and the Iberian endemic Artemisia crithmifolia.

Fixed (Grey) Dunes
In these stable areas two associations have been identified.  This first which is endemic to southern Portugal is characterised by Crucianella maritima and the local endemic Armeria welwitschii subsp. welwitschi. Other typical species include Aetheorhiza bulbosa,  Calendula suffruticosa subsp. algarbiensis,  Carpobrotus edulis,  Corynephorus canescens var. maritimus, Crucianella maritima, Cyperus capitatus, Euphorbia portlandica, Helichrysum picardi, Iberis procumbens subsp. procumbens, Linaria caesia subsp. decumbens, Lotus creticus, Malcolmia littorea, Ononis natrix subsp. ramosissima, Pancratium maritimum, Seseli tortuosum, Scrophularia frutescens, Sedum sediforme, Vulpia alopecurus, the Iberian endemic Artemisia crithmifolia and the Portugese endemic Verbascum litigiosum. This association ranges from Cascais to Quiaios where it is replaced by an Atlantic association typically characterised by Scrophularia frutescens and Vulpia alopecurus. Common taxa in this association include Herniaria ciliolata subsp. robusta, Leontodon arenarius and Seseli tortuosum, while less common are Anagalis monelli var. microphylla, Hydrocotyle bonariensis, Malcolmia littorea, Reichardia gaditana, Silene nicaeensis and others. This association is endemic to northwestern parts of the Iberian Peninsula. In spring time the clearings in both of these low-shrub formations is typically colonised by an endemic therophitic association characterised by taxa such as Erodium aethiopicum subsp. pilosum, Medicago littoralis, Polycarpon alsinifolium, Pseudorlaya minuscula, Senecio gallicus, Silene littorea. In the more fossilised dunes more mature vegetation can be found characterised by Juniperus turbinata. Other associated taxa include Antirrhinum majus subsp. cirrhigerum, Asparagus aphyllus, Daphne gnidium, Pistacia lentiscus, Phillyrea angustifoloa, Rubia peregrina var. longifolia, Smilax aspera var. mauritanica, and the Iberian endemic Corema album. Finally a Portuguese endemic low-shrub community characterised by the Iberian endemics Corema album and Stauracanthus genistoides can often be found under pine stands on interior dunes. Other taxa may include Halimium calycinum, Helichrysum picardi var. virescens and Ulex europaeus subsp. latebracteatus.


Costa, J. C., Lousa, M., Capelo, J., Santo, M. D. E., Sevillano, J. I. & Arsénio, P. 2000. The coastal vegetation of the Portuguese divisory sector: dunes, cliffs and low-scrub communities. Finisterra, XXXV: 69-93.