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   Cenchrus echinatus (grass)
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         Interim profile, incomplete information
    Taxonomic name: Cenchrus echinatus L.
    Synonyms: Cenchrus echinatus var. hillebrandianus (A.S. Hitchc.) F. Br.
    Common names: ‘ume‘alu (Hawaiian), abrojo (Spanish), bur grass, burgrass, burr grass, cabeza de negro (Spanish), cachorro (Spanish), cadillo (Spanish), cadillo tigre (Spanish), capim-amoroso (Portuguese), capim-carrapicho (Portuguese), capim-roseta (Portuguese), capim-timbete (Portuguese), caretón morado (Spanish), cauit-cauitan (Filipino), cenchrus épineux (French), common sandbur, eakung (Nauruan), espolón (Spanish), field sandbur, golden grass, guizazo (Spanish), hedgehog grass, hefa (Tongan), herbe e cateaeux (French-Mauritius), iakung (Nauru), kãlõklõk (Marshall Islands), karumwij (Marshall Islands), konpeito-gusa, legalek (Marshall Islands), lek e lek (Marshall Islands), lellik (Marshall Islands), mau‘u kuku (Hawaii), mosie vihilango (Niue), Mossman river grass, motie vihilago (Niue), mouku talatala (Tuvalu), mozote (Spanish), parango (Maori-Cook Islands), pega-pega (Spanish), piripiri (Maori-Cook Islands), piri-piri (Tahiti), pua pipii (Marquesas), puu ta‘a ta‘a (Marquesas), quaramiyumut (Marshall Islands), roseta (Spanish), sand bur, sand burr, sandburr, se bulabula (Fijian), se mbulabula, se mbulambula (Fijian), southern sandbur, southern sandbur grass, spiny sandbur, te anti (Kiribati), te kateketeke (Kiribati), te uteute ae kateketeke (Kiribati), vao papalagi (Samoan), vao tui tui (Tokelau), vao tuitui (Samoan), zacate banderilla (Spanish)
    Organism type: grass
    Cenchrus echinatus is an annual grass that is a native of tropical America, but has now widely colonised tropical and temperate zones worldwide. Though it is typically associated with dry, sandy habitats it can also grow in moist areas, where it may be long-lived and reach a much larger size. It is recognisable by the burrs it produces, which readily attach themselves to animals and clothing, making C. echinatus easily dispersed. It is fairly easily managed by physical and chemical means, though the soil seed reservoir means followup treatments are necessary.
    Description
    Cenchrus echinatus is an annual, branched and somewhat tufted grass that grows up to 1 m tall. It is erect at the base, with fibrous roots and has the ability to form mats. The blades are either smooth or slightly hairy on the upper surface, smooth on the lower surface and are up to 9 mm wide. The inflorescence are spike-like, up to 10 cm long and has up to 50 or more spiny burrs (5 - 7 mm long), which are well-spaced, subsessile with 2 - 4 spikelets. These burrs are easily detached. (PIER 2010).
    Occurs in:
    agricultural areas, coastland, range/grasslands, riparian zones, ruderal/disturbed, urban areas, wetlands
    Habitat description
    Cenchrus echinatus can grow in a variety of conditions, and grows readily in tropical and temperate zones. Though it is often associated with dry, sandy soils, C. echinatus thrives in moist conditions where it is generally longer lived and can grow much larger. It readily colonises open ground and is known to invade agricultural areas, riparian zones, disturbed areas, sand dunes and other coastal areas, pasture, road sides, gardens and swamp margins. (PIER 2010).
    General impacts
    Cenchrus echinatus infests dry areas especially along leeward coastlines. Burs are a nuisance for people. They are reported as dangerous for hatchlings of seabirds on the Northwestern Islands. (Motooka et al. 2003). A prolific seeder, it forms mats and can displace native grasses (Flint & Rehkemper 2002).
    Notes
    Cenchrus echinatus is declared as a species not wanted in southern Africa (GCW 2007).
    Geographical range
    Native range: A native of tropical America (JSTOR Plant Science, 2010)
    Known introduced range: weedy or invasive in most tropical and temperate countries (PIER, 2010); introduced into the Mascarene Islands, Polynesia, and Northern Australia (JSTOR Plant Science, 2010).
    Introduction pathways to new locations
    Ignorant possession:
    Translocation of machinery/equipment: The Cenchrus echinatus panicle when ripe consists of upto 50 spiny burrs that can stick to clothing, wool, and fur, and farm and agricultural machinary; the burrs can float on water and is dispersed through flowing water.


    Local dispersal methods
    On animals (local): The Cenchrus echinatus panicle when ripe consists of upto 50 spiny burrs that can stick to clothing, wool, and fur, and farm and agricultural machinary; the burrs can float on water and is dispersed through flowing water.
    On clothing/footwear: The Cenchrus echinatus panicle when ripe consists of upto 50 spiny burrs that can stick to clothing, wool, and fur, and farm and agricultural machinary; the burrs can float on water and is dispersed through flowing water.
    Translocation of machinery/equipment (local): The Cenchrus echinatus panicle when ripe consists of upto 50 spiny burrs that can stick to clothing, wool, and fur, and farm and agricultural machinary; the burrs can float on water and is dispersed through flowing water.
    Water currents: The Cenchrus echinatus panicle when ripe consists of upto 50 spiny burrs that can stick to clothing, wool, and fur, and farm and agricultural machinary; the burrs can float on water and is dispersed through flowing water.
    Management information
    Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Cenchrus echinatus for Australia. The result is a score of 11 and a recommendation of: "eject the plant for import (Australia) or species likely to be of high risk (Pacific)." C. echinatus is declared as an unwanted species in southern Africa (GCW 2007).

    Physical/Chemical: Physical and chemical management techniques have been found to be effective against Cenchrus echinatus. Physical measures include hand-pulling individual plants, which can either be done on its own or following spray treatment with herbicide. Effective chemicals include glyphoshate, chlorazifop, altrazine and benfluralin. Follow up procedures are necessary due to the seed reservoir of C. echinatus. It has been noted that preemergence herbicides could be useful. (Flint & Rehkemper 2002; Motooka et al. 2003; PIER 2010).

    Compiled by: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
    Last Modified: Tuesday, 8 June 2010


ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland