Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board
This web site will help you identify & control noxious weed with information and photographs to aid you.

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Longspine sandbur
Cenchrus longispinus                
Grass Family

Key identifying traits

  • Warm-season grass growing in horizontal mats or upright to 3' tall
  • 1-3" seed spikes have 10-30 pea size hard burs
  • Burs are thickly set with stiff, sharp, spreading spines
  • Leaf blades and leaf sheaths are flat in appearance; immature plants spread horizontally
  • Frequently, old burs can be found clinging to a root of young plants which aids in distinguishing immature sandbur from other grasses

Biology and ecology

  • Summer annual that favors sandy or well-drained gravelly soils; thrives on sunny sites
  • Invades lawns, roadsides, ornamental, disturbed areas
  • Flowering and seed production July to September
  • Mature burs cause injury to livestock mouths, noses and eyes and can reduce value of wool
  • Commonly spread by animals, machinery and vehicles; burs cling to tires, clothing, soles and laces of shoes, knees, knuckles and pet hair
  • Longspine sandbur is native to central and southern U.S.


Prevention Learn to identify the plant; know your property; beware of fill dirt, hay and seed from outside your area

Biological None

Cultural Competitive vegetation helps-keep lawns watered and fertilized to increase the vigor of turf and reduce open spaces for invasion

Mechanical Mowing can stop seed production in short term, but plants can regrow and bloom shorter than the cutting blade; digging or pulling is effective; needs to be before bloom or, if after, bag or burn plants in a pile as appropriate; seed bank will be present for a few years

Chemical Pre-emergence treatments are effective at label rates prior to germination but effectiveness can be lost due to leaching from rain or irrigation; post-emergence spot treatment with a non-selective glyphosate product is effective but care must be used to avoid loss of desirable plants. Because sandbur is a grass broadleaf herbicides are not effective.  Refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook for specific chemical recommendations

lx1.jpg (17180 bytes)
young plant and 
bur it came from

wpeF.jpg (65281 bytes)
mature plant

lx3.jpg (20824 bytes)
maturing burs

Where found
Limited infestations found in the sandy bench areas of Stevens County above Lake Roosevelt particularly west of Kettle Falls.

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Last Edit: March 25, 2015

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