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FLIP

FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Imperata cylindrica

Common Name(s): Cogongrass, Japanese blood grass

Origin

Southeast Asia

Ecological Impact

A  fast-growing federal noxious weed that can invade dry to moist areas. Windborne seeds can disperse over long distances to other habitats (Langeland and Burks, 1998). Cogongrass aggressively invades areas such as open forests, pastures, and right-of-ways.  It is considered a severe fire hazard as the "grass" is extrememly flammable (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010).  Listed as a Category I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC). 

Description

An aggressive perennial grass that can grow 1-6 feet in height, rising from sharp-tipped rhizomes. Leaves are long and lanceolate with overlapping sheaths; outer sheaths form hairy tufts. A white midvein, arranged slightly off-center, may be found on the blade. Leaf edges are serrated. Flowers are a silky, terminal panicle about 1 to 8 inches long and tightly branched on a red-colored stalk.  They can be obscured by silvery-white hair tufts (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010).

Identification Tips

Look for distinct stems with sharp-pointed tips and a white, off-center midvein on leaf blades.  It has a rough feeling when rubbed from the tip to the base of the leaves. Flowers are silky, almost like cotton candy.  May resemble Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense), purpletop (Tridens flavus), sliver plumegrass (Saccharum alopecuroides) and sugarcane plumegrass (Saccharum giganteum). (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010).

History

Introduced to Florida from Southeast Asia in the early 1900s with the purpose to stabilize soil. (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010).

Florida Range

Found throughout  the state of Florida and the southeastern United States.

Prevention/Management Strategies

Do not plant cogongrass. Try not to disturb areas where this plant is found. One way to stop seed production is by mowing (Miller, Manning ,and Enloe, 2010). For extensive information on management and control of cogongrass, visit the cogongrass website, www.cogongrass.org.

Photos

Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants