Cenchrus echinatus

Scientific Name Cenchrus echinatus L.
Synonyms Cenchrus brevisetus Fourn., Cenchrus pungens HBK, Cenchrus quinquevalvis Ham. ex Wall., Cenchrus viridis Spreng.
Common Names English: Southern sandbur, burgrass, spiny burrgrass, German: Stacheliges Klettengras, French: Herbe rude, Spanish: Cadillo carrebon
Description Annual grass, erect, 30-90 cm (11.81 - 35.43 inch) high, forming loose tufts, lower parts of the culm sometimes prostrate, rooting at the lower nodes (no stolones).


Characteristic Features

Broad red leaves. The burs are reddish and broader than those of field sandbur (C. pauciflorus). It grows more prostrate to the ground and also roots at the node and forms a mat.

Young Plant

Leaves are folded in a bud.
Ligule is a fringe of hairs.
The blade is rough with long hairs at the base near the ligule and collar.


Usually flattened and dark green.


The leave blades are flat, smooth to hairy, 5-30 cm (1.96 - 11.81 inch) long, 3-11 mm (0.12 - 0.43 inch) wide. The youngest leaf is rolled.
The ligule is replaced by a ring of hairs (0.7-1.7 mm, 0.027 - 0.067 inch) long.
Auricles are absent. With hairs at the mouth of sheath, the sheath compressed with moderately stiff hairs on the margin of the upper part.

Propagation Organs


The inflorescence forms a dense cylindrical spike, 3-10 cm (1.18 - 3.93 inch) long, 1-2 cm (0.39 - 0.78 inch) wide.
The rachis is strongly undulate and rough.
Spikelets enclosed in spinous burs. The distance between individual burs is 2-3 cm (0.78 - 1.18 inch). Each bur contains 2-4 spikelets, 5-7 mm (0.19 - 0.27 inch) long without pedicels. The burs are compressed at the base, globular, clustered, 5-10 mm (0.19 - 0.39 inch) long, 3.5-6 mm (0.14 - 0.23 inch wide, irregular in length and thickness, the inner ones larger than the outer.
The tips of the spines turn purple with increasing maturity.

Flowering Period

Almost year round in the humid tropics.


Burlike fruit, each spike has 5-20 burs.


Germination in spring.

Viability of Seeds

Only few years.


By seed.



C. echinatus can grow in many habitats and is found in dry and moist regions in rainfed and irrigated crops. It can also be found along roadsides and beaches, in open ground and waste places.


Moderate moisture and light, sandy, well-drained soils at low elevations.

Additional Crop Information

It has been recorded as a weed in 18 crops in 35 countries, mostly in cereals, pulses, vineyards, plantation crops and pastures

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