The Beach Creeper, Ernodea littorolis, is a small sprawling shrub that can reach 3’ in height. Some stems are prostrate and spreading with red nodes that drop roots into sandy soils. Other stems are erect. Opposite leaves are sessile (without petiole) and tend to gather in clusters at the upper portion of the erect stems. Leaf shape is linear lanceolate. Length 1” to 1 ½” and ½” in width. Margins are entire. Leaves are leathery or fleshy. Color is a glossy green.
Flowers are bisexual. The flower structure is unusual. The calyx has 4 to 6 sepals that support the corolla. Corolla is tubular with four linear lobes that are curled over at the tip. The interior of the tube is white. Outside color is pinkish to red. Four lengthy greenish male stamens and a pistil extend out of the tube. Length of the flower is about 11/2”. The inflorescence is solitary. Fruit is a yellow four lobed drupe containing a single seed.
Littorolis is categorized in the Rubiaceae (Madder) family. Distribution is in the coastal counties in the central and southern counties. Its habitats are coastal grasslands, coastal strands and sand dunes. Littorolis is joined by E. cokeri, in the genus Ernodea. The specimen in the picture was taken on the Beach.
Photo by James Rodwell