National Fish and Wildlife Foundation joins fight to eradicate beach vitex

By Stephanie Beard

dune vegetationA grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is funding beach vitex eradication at some 50 beachfront locations in Charleston, Georgetown, and Horry counties.

Chuck Gresham, a forest ecologist at Clemson’s Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, is working with the Carolinas Beach Vitex Task Force to remove the invasive plant and re-establish native dune vegetation.

The invasive shrub was first planted on South Carolina beaches in 1990 when the dunes were rebuilt after Hurricane Hugo. Now it has spread and Clemson research shows that native dune plants cannot grow where vitex occurs. Also, volunteers monitoring sea turtle nesting are concerned that it could interfere with nesting and with baby turtles’ trip to the sea.

With landowners’ permission, the Task Force will inject herbicide into the vitex, then wait six months before removing it and restoring the dunes with native plants, such as sea oats. Much of the work will take place in Pawleys Island because it has the most known locations of vitex. All the treatments, including replanting, are covered by the grant. 

For information: Chuck Gresham, 843-546-6314,