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- Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Cenchrus spinifex - coastal sandbur

Synonyms: Cenchrus incertus, Cenchrus parviceps, Cenchrus pauciflorus
Other Common Names: field sandbur, grass bur, Southern sandbur, spiny burgrass
Plant Form: Grass

Family: Poaceae

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Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Liz Makings @, Usage Rights Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: Dry sandy soil, disturbed sites.
Plant Communities:Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: 2000 - 6000 feet

Similar Species: Cenchrus tribuloides, Cenchrus longispinus
General Description

Desc: Plants are annuals or short-lived perennials. Weak spreading stems form mats with deep, well-developed roots. Growth starts early, adding to the competitiveness of this weedy grass.
Identification Notes: Annual with spreading seedhead stems; simple spike-like seedheads of spiny burs; burs sometimes crowded on the seedhead, representing 2 spikelets that have coalesced and have many flat spines; flat blades; sometimes freely branching and forming mats.
Grass Type: Annual  Rhizomes: N  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): N  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: Less than 12 inches
Seedhead Structure: Unbranched  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: Jun - Nov
Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: Multi-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: Absent   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: N
Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedheads are dense, compact spikes bearing 12 to 27 stiff, spiny burs. Spikelets are usually two-flowered and purplish.
Vegetative Charcteristics

Blade Hairy: Y    Blade with White Margins: N    Blade Cross section: Flat or folded
Blade Notes: Blades are flat or folded. Stems are somewhat flattened and often purplish colored at the base. Stems are often bent and jointed.
Sheath Hairy: Y    Tuft of Hairs at top of Sheath or Collar: Y    Ligules: Membranous and hairy
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at collar area: N

Forage Value: Poor palatability for wildlife, but the song bird Pyrrhuloxia eats the seeds.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Content Questions/Comments: Email Matt Halldorson  
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