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CENCHRUS echinatus

Image of Cenchrus echinatus

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

CENCHRUS echinatus

Plant Common Name

Southern Sandbur

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Dare to walk though a patch of southern sandspur and be prepared to pluck prickly, annoying seeds from your pants and shoe laces. Believed native to southern North America and the Caribbean, southern sandspur's weedy, invasive tendencies now finds the species growing all over the world, especially in tropical and warm-temperate regions. This annual, fast-growing grass has a fibrous root system and tidy, clumping habit. Its ability to flower and produce seeds in abundance allows it to become a colonizing nightmare. The seeds cling to clothing and animal fur as well as being carried by water to new soil to germinate.

Plants sprout from seed in the warm months of the year, prospering in bright light and relatively any soil with some level of fertility and faint supply of moisture. The medium green grass blades arise from the plant base or the branched stems, creating a broad v-shaped tuft of foliage. This grass then produces multiple flower heads. The tiny, spiny, white to pink flowers form a tight cylindrical cluster on stem tips. After wind pollination, the flowers become reddish-green spurred seeds that then ripen and dry to straw-brown. The seeds drop away in wind or are readily torn to attach to animal fur, skin, or clothing fibers.

No one wants to deliberately grow southern sandspur, as it is an annoying, fast-spreading noxious weed in garden settings. Even in roadside or pasture settings it's undesirable and dreaded. Shade, wet soils and frost seem to limit this sandspur's growth or spread. Seeds may sprout in colder regions in spring, but short growing seasons prevent seed production. In many subtropical regions worldwide, this species has attained invasive status.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 6

  • Plant Type

    Grass

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    12"-36" / 30.5cm - 91.4cm (18)

  • Width

    10"-24" / 25.4cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Southeastern United States, South-Central United States, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Fruit Color

    Light Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Light Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes