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Field Sandbur Cenchrus longispinus

Previously known as:

  • Cenchrus pauciflorus var. longispinus
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Mat Sandbur is a loosely clumped summer annual grass with branching stems, referred to as culms, of up to 2.5' long.  Under certain conditions, it can persist as a biennial or perennial.  It is also considered a winter annual, that is, it can live for one year, with a winter included.

Several culms are produced from the base that may sprawl along the ground or stand in an ascending fashion.  In their natural habitat, they can be found growing in sandy sites, abandoned fields and in areas that have been disturbed recently.  

Its aggressive, invasive nature is intensified by its burs ability to latch onto the fur of animals and the clothing of passersby to be spread to other locations.  They can also attach themselves to vehicle tires or be washed to new location via rainfall.  Additional rooting can take place where the nodes touch the ground.  

The main flower stalk axis is wavy.  Typically, each spike can contain 40 and occasionally up to 50 burs. The spike is enclosed by a leaf sheath.  

They often form large mats and can grow up to 2' in length.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  This plant can be invasive.  The burs can prick the skin when dry out.  Farm animals are often injured when grazing in locations where this plant is growing, often injuring their mouths and eye.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#annuals#summer annual#warm-season grass#native annual#warm season weed#native weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#annuals#summer annual#warm-season grass#native annual#warm season weed#native weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cenchrus
    Species:
    longispinus
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America, Mexico and South America
    Distribution:
    AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE. NH, NJ, MN, MV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX UT, VA, TV WA, WI, WV, WY
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Horizontal
    Prostrate
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Prickles
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Caryopsis
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are contained in the spiny burs that are along the terminal panicle. They consist of 1 to 3 seeds each. When dried, the burs become sharp and attach to the clothing or shoelaces of passersby.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Irregular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flower is a spike-like clusters of 1-4" long at the stem tips. They are enclosed in round, spine-covered, yellow-green burs.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves, that can reach lengths of up to 6", form along the entire length of the stems. The upper side is rough, with a smooth lower surface. They can be flat, or folded lengthwise and sometimes rolled up slightly on the edges.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The light green stems or culms is covered by a sheath of leaves. They may have a reddish color near the base.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Slope/Bank
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Spines/Thorns