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Cenchrus spinifex (Grass bur)
Strickland, Sam C.

Cenchrus spinifex

Cenchrus spinifex Cav.

Grass Bur, Coastal Sandbur, Field Sandspur, Southern Sandbur, Spiny Burrgrass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Cenchrus incertus, Cenchrus parviceps, Cenchrus pauciflorus

USDA Symbol: CESP4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), PR (N), VI (N)

Culms: 8-80 cm long. Inflorescence: spiney. Spines: 8-40 per bur.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Raceme
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 32 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Burs purplish


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , DC , FL , GA , KS , KY , LA , MD , MS , NC , NM , NV , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Texas: Throughout but most abundant in north-central and southeast Texas and Rio Grande Plains. U.S.A.: Coastal States, Virginia to Texas and inland to Arkansas and Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, California. International: Nearly throughtout Mexico, Central America, and West Indies; also warm-temperate and subtropical parts of South America; Philipines; South Africa.
Native Habitat: Sandy or tighter soils, especially in disturbed areas.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil Description: Best adapted to dry sandy and sandy loam soil.
Conditions Comments: Common on disturbed sites.


Use Wildlife: The song bird, Pyrrhuloxia, eat the seeds.
Warning: Very painful to walk on in bare feet. Burs stick to clothing.
Larval Host: The Grass Family is an essential larval food for most branded skippers and most of the satyrs.
Deer Resistant: High


Propagation Material: Seeds
Seed Treatment: No special pre-treatment.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0332 Collected May 22, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-RLU-3 Collected 2009-09-05 in Burnet County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cenchrus spinifex in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cenchrus spinifex in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cenchrus spinifex


Record Modified: 2015-07-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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