Cenchrus echinatus (southern sandbur)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Cenchrus echinatus L.
Preferred Common Name
- southern sandbur
Other Scientific Names
- Cenchrus brevisetus Fourn.
- Cenchrus pungens HBK
- Cenchrus quinquevalvis Ham. ex Wall.
- Cenchrus viridis Spreng.
International Common Names
- English: bur grass; hedgehog grass; mossman rivergrass; piquant cousin; sandbur grass; sandspur
- Spanish: abrojo; cabeza de negro; cachorro; cadillo; cadillo carreton; cadillo correntino; cadillo tigre; espolon; guizazo; morado; mozote (de caballo); pasto camelo; pasto roseta; pega-pega; roseta; tembuque cadillo; zacate banderilla; zacate cadillo; zacate erizo; zacate huachapore
- French: herbe rude
Local Common Names
- Brazil: arroz bravo; capim carrapicho; capim roseta
- Fiji: se bulabula
- French Polynesia: piri-piri
- Germany: Stacheliges Klettengras
- Mauritius: herbe à cateaux
- Philippines: agingai; cauit-cauitan; sagisi
- Samoa: vao tuitui
- Sri Lanka: kuvenitana
- Thailand: yaa son krachap; ya-bung
- Tonga: hefa
- USA/Hawaii: konpeito-gusa; ume alu
- CCHEC (Cenchrus echinatus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Cenchrus
- Species: Cenchrus echinatus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page The name Cenchrus is from the Greek word for millet, cenchros. The Greek species name echinatus means armed with spines.
DescriptionTop of page Erect, 30-90 cm high, forming loose tufts, lower parts of the culm sometimes prostrate, rooting at the lower nodes. The stems are usually flattened and dark green. The leaves are flat, smooth to hairy, 5-30 cm long, 3-11 mm wide, with hairs at the mouth of sheath, the sheath compressed with moderately stiff hairs on the margin of the upper part. The youngest leaf is rolled. The ligule is replaced by a ring of hairs (0.7-1.7 mm long); auricles are absent.
Inflorescence forms a dense cylindrical spike, 3-10 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, the rachis is strongly undulate and rough, spikelets enclosed in spinous burs; distance between individual burs is 2-3 cm. Each bur contains 2-4 spikelets, 5-7 mm long without pedicels. The burs are compressed at the base, globular, clustered, 5-10 mm long, 3.5-6 mm wide, irregular in length and thickness, the inner ones larger than the outer. The tips of the spines turn purple with increasing maturity.
DistributionTop of page C. echinatus grows from latitudes 33°S to 33°N in the tropics and subtropics of America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
HabitatTop of page C. echinatus is a native of tropical America, occuring as an adventive in most tropical countries. It can grow in many habitats and is found in dry and moist regions in rainfed and irrigated crops and has been reported as a weed of 18 crops in 35 countries, mostly in cereals, pulses, vineyards, plantation crops and pastures (Holm et al., 1977). It prefers moderate moisture and light, sandy, well-drained soils at low elevations (Holm et al., 1977).
Habitat ListTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page C. echinatus is an annual grass, germinating in spring and flowering most of the year round in the moist tropics. Dormancy of its seeds can be broken by scarification, excision of the caryopsis and 5 minutes immersion in 1-3% potassium nitrate solution (Martins et al., 1997).
ImpactTop of page C. echinatus occurs as a weed in many crops worldwide. It is common in cultivated fields, pastures, fallows, orchards, vineyards, coffee, vegetables, bananas, coconuts and lawns, where it can withstand repeated defoliation. It can be found along roadsides and beaches, in open ground and waste places. Crops competing for nutrients with C. echinatus typically have smaller leaf areas and lower growth rates and yields (Hammerton, 1981; Everaarts, 1993; Ramos and Pitelli, 1994).
The burs of the seed heads can become firmly attached to clothes and coats of animals by the barbed spines. These can penetrate the skin causing painful or annoying injuries. In feeds and hay, the burs of the seed heads reduce the acceptability and palatability of the feed to animals. Nevertheless, it can serve as a forage grass before the burs are formed.
C. echinatus also has some relevance as an alternative host for maize streak monogeminivirus and sugarcane streak monogeminivirus (Brunt et al., 1996).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Impact mechanisms
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page In West Africa, the similar species C. biflorus can be found, which can be distinguished by having no prickles. Spikelets of C. biflorus are also united at the base to form a disc and not to form a cup as in C. echinatus (Akobundu and Agyakwa, 1987).
In south-eastern USA, C. incertus (coast sandspur) is found concurrently with C. echinatus. The presence of two types of spine on the bur of C. incertus distinguish it from C. echinatus. C. echinatus is also similar to field sandbur, which has been amalgamated with C. incertus (USDA-ARS, 1999), but C. echinatus has burs which are more reddish and more wide than long, being widest at the base.
In C. brownii, the burs are larger, fewer and less densely arranged than in C. echinatus (Hitchcock, 1971; Cardenas et al., 1972).
The rare native species C. calyculatus (Western Polynesia) is more robust and its bur is less spiny than C. echinatus (Whistler, 1983).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Cultural control methods for C. echinatus are similar to those used for weeds in general. These range from cutting, mowing, mulching, tillage and short-term fallows to flooding and are mainly used by small scale farmers.
Concentrated extracts of the shoots and roots of Alocasia sanderiana can be used as a pre-emergence herbicide, inhibiting germination of C. echinatus. As a contact herbicide, the extract is less effective (Gonzal et al., 1989).
A mixture of three fungal pathogens (Drechslera gigantea, Exserohilum rostratum and E. longirostratum) of grasses, applied as an emulsion, controlled C. echinatus in greenhouse and field trials. The crops tested (maize, oats, wheat, sorghum and rye) were immune or resistant to the tested pathogens (Charudattan et al., 1999).
Herbicides are used by larger growers (Hammerton, 1981; Laca-Buendia and Pires, 1992; Zelaya et al., 1997), instead of cultural methods.
The post-emergence herbicides fluazifop and sethoxydim give good results in onions and soyabeans whereas pre-emergence herbicides give poor control of C. echinatus in soyabeans (Almeida et al., 1983; Barros, 1989; Barker-Cohen, 1992). Fluazifop and haloxyfop also provide season-long control of annual grasses in groundnuts (Lunsford et al., 1987; Cruz et al., 1991).
Fluazifop and fenoxaprop show good efficacy against C. echinatus in rice (Soto et al., 1986), but fluazifop has to be applied at the 3-4 tiller stage before flowering to avoid crop damage.
In cotton, the post-emergence herbicides sethoxydim and clethodim control C. echinatus without any damage to the crop (Laca-Buendia and Pires, 1992).
In cabbage, a treatment with the pre-emergence herbicide oxyfluorfen, with the additional application of chlorthal-dimethyl or trifluralin gives good results (Munroe and Nishimoto, 1988), whereas trifluralin, metolachlor, fluazifop, haloxyfop, fenoxaprop, chloramben and fluorochloridone control C. echinatus in sunflower (Machado and Marchezan, 1989; Oliveira et al., 1989; Avila et al., 1991).
High yields and good control of different weeds in tomato, including C.echinatus were obtained using metribuzin and pendimethalin (Cerna-Bazan and Rojas-Vargas, 1979).
In lawns, C.echinatus can be controlled by oryzalin, pendimethalin and benfluralin (McAfee, 1998).
In sugarcane, an integrated method of control consisting of appropriate soil preparation made by subsoilering, ploughing and harrowing before cane setting followed by atrazin application shows good weed control. Subsequent on off-barring and hilling-up by cultivators should be practised once or twice before cane leaves are closed in (Kleopan-Suwanarak et al., 1987).
ReferencesTop of page
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Barker-Cohen JE, 1992. The efficacy of three herbicides in onion crops in Jamaica. Mona, Jamaica: West Indies University.
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Hall DW, Vandiver VV, 1991. Weeds in Florida, SP 37. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, USA: Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
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Hu DongDong, Ma DanDan, Liu JianQiang, Ou DanYan, Li GenYou, 2009. A new record of Gramineae in Zhejiang. Journal of Zhejiang Forestry Science and Technology, 29(6):64-65. http://scholar.ilib.cn/I-zjlykj.2005.02.html
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Jenett-Siems K, Kaloga M, Eich E, 1994. Ergobalansine/ergobalansinine, a proline-free peptide-type alkaloid of the fungal genus Balansia, is a constituent of Ipomoea piurensis. Journal of Natural Products, 57(9):1304-1306
Kleopan-Suwanarak, Sermisiri-Kongsaengdao, Narisorn-Kajonpon, 1987. Integrated weed control in sugarcane. Research Report in 1986: Sugarcane. Thailand: Suphanburi Field Crops Research Center.
Laca-Buendia JP, Pires GAD, 1992. Evaluation of the efficiency of the control of gramineous weeds by the herbicide clethodim in a herbaceous cotton crop (Gossypium hirsutum var. latifolium Hutch.). Planta Daninha, 10(1-2):50-54
McAfee JA, 1998. Controlling Field Sandbur (Grassbur) in Turfgrass. Extension Report. Texas A&M University, Dallas, Texas. World Wide Web page at: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/turf/grassbur.html.
Moreno-Casasola P, 1988. Patterns of plant species distribution on coastal dunes along the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Biogeography, 15(5/6):787-806.
Noda K, Teerawatsakul M, Prakongvongs C, Chaiwiratnukul L, 1985. Major Weeds in Thailand. Bangkok, Thailand: Department of Agriculture.
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Powell RG, Plattner RD, Yates SG, Clay K, Leuchtmann A, 1990. Ergobalansine, a new ergot-type peptide alkaloid isolated from Cenchrus echinatus (sandbur grass) infected with Balansia obtecta, and produced in liquid cultures of B. obtecta and Balansia cyperi. Journal of Natural Products, 53(5):1272-1279
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Distribution MapsTop of page
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