South Dakota Native Plant Research
Poaceae: Cenchrus longispinus

Poaceae: Cenchrus longispinus


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Family Name


Native American Name

Lakota: pȟeží uŋkčéla


Cenchrus longispinus is an annual grass with solid culms 20-60 cm tall. Multiple culms can be sprawling, ascending or erect, are smooth, often branching and mostly covered by the sheaths. The stem is often reddish at the base and light green above. The ligule is fringed with short, white hairs, 0.6-1.8 mm long. The sheath is contracted where the blade emerges, open at the front, and sometimes with a few long hairs at the constriction. The alternate leaves , 4-14 cm long, 3-7 mm wide, rough on the upper surface, mostly smooth on the lower, flat, folded lengthwise, or rolled up along the edges. The inflorescence consists of terminal and axillary spike-like clusters of burs, 2.5-10 cm long. Each bur has 30 or more spines of various sizes, the largest ones 3-5 mm long. There are with 2 or 3 spikelets per bur and 2 florets per spikelet, 1 fertile and the second staminate of sterile. The fruit are a single grain per spikelet that are retained within the bur. Sandbur blooms from July into September in disturbed ground throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Sandburs grow along railroad tracks, pathways and roadsides. They readily stick into anything that passes and are carried along by their victims. They are at best unpleasant and are not recommended for any plantings.

Poaceae: Cenchrus longispinus