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Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)
Grasses Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)

General: Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex) is a nasty, invasive grass with sharp, stiff spines on the seeds that get stuck in your socks and stab your fingers when you try to remove them. The stems are spreading, the leaf sheaths are flattened, and the small collar is fringed with hairs. The spiny seeds are like nothing else in southern Nevada.

Coastal Sandbur is an uncommon component of vegetation in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) life zones. Around Las Vegas, keep an eye out for this species. Land managers are actively working to eradicate Sandbur, so hopefully you won't see it anywhere.

Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)
Mixed with other species, this grass is hard to see

This is an invasive weed. If hikers and other visitors to the native habitats around Las Vegas see this species, please report the observation to the Nevada Department of Agriculture using their online forms. If you have this species on your private property, please consider eradicating it.

Look for this species in the orchard at Corn Creek on the Desert National Wildlife Range.


Family: Grass (Poaceae).

Other Names: Field sandbur (Cenchrus incertus), sandbur

Plant Form: Decumbent perennial grass forming loose mats.

Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)

Height: Usually lower, but to about 18 inches when in flower.

Stems: Internode solid to spongy inside.

Leaves: Sheath flattened, to about 3 inches. Ligule, fringe of hairs, to about 1.5 mm. Collar with tuft of hairs. Blade to about 6 inches long, 1/4-inch wide; upper surface glabrous.

Flowers: Inflorescence to about 3 inches; main axis wavy.

Seeds: Well armored with small, but sharp stout spines.

Habitat: Disturbed areas, ditches, roadsides, fields, orchards.

Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)

Elevation: To about 2,500 feet.

Distribution: This species is native to the southeastern US, Mexico, and South America, but has been spread across the southern US to California.

Comments: Although not listed in Nevada, this species is a "prohibited noxious weed" in Arizona and "C-list noxious weed" in California. This would seem to be good candidate for designation as a Noxious Weed in Nevada.

For More Information: DiTomaso, J.M., and E.A. Healy. 2007. Weeds of California and other Western States. University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources Publication 3488. 2 Vol. ISBN 978-1-879906-69-3.

Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)
Sheaths along stem create a flattened appearance
Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)
Tuft of hairs at edge of collar
Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)
Developing burs
Coastal Sandbur (Cenchrus spinifex)
The main axis of the inflorescence is wavy

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 141118

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