Pingao is usually found on the seaward faces of coastal fore dunes. It is capable of growing closer to the shoreline than any other sand binder.
Along with spinifex in the North Island it is the most important of the native sand binders for building and stabilising coastal sand dunes.
It builds dunes by trapping the sand between its leaves, around its base and in the long rope-like rhizomes or runners it sends out.
Pingao is unique in that it grows towards the tide from the dunes. Naturally occurring pingao is a good indicator of biodiversity in a coastal environment.