Cenchrus longispinus (Hack.) Fern.

long-spined sandbur

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Long-spined sandbur is a native grass of southern New England, including the southern edges of the northern states (with a disjunct population in Chittenden County, Vermont). It is found in sandy soils and along railroads. It is protected in Maine and New Hampshire, and considered a noxious weed in California and Washington.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf blade width
1.5–7.5 mm
Inflorescence branches
  • the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
  • there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
Spikelet length
4–7.8 mm
Glume relative length
neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has no awn
One or more florets
  • there is more than one floret per spikelet
  • there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
0 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Leaf ligule length
0.6–1.3 mm
Anther length
0.7–1 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    0.7–1 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has no awn
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is hard and firm
    Floret number
    1–2
    Floret types within spikelet
    • NA
    • there are at least two distinct forms of florets within one spikelet
    Glume relative length
    neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
    Glume veins
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    • 7 or more
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branches
    • the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    • there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
    Inflorescence length
    15–100 mm
    Inflorescence type (general)
    • the inflorescence is a spike, or is spike-like, lacking obvious branches
    • the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence is branched, and the branches do NOT both grow from the same side of the plant AND look like spikes
    Lemma awn base
    NA
    Lemma awn length
    0 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has no awn
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    Lemma vein number
    • 3
    • 5
    • 7 or more
    One or more florets
    • there is more than one floret per spikelet
    • there is one floret per spikelet
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is no extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet length
    4–7.8 mm
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets appear spiny and bur-like
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest at or below the middle
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf blade width
    1.5–7.5 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    0.6–1.3 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane with fine hairs
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hair type
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • woodlands
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Occurs only in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: UPL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
historical (S-rank: SH), potentially extirpated (code: PE)
Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)
New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Vermont
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Cenchrus spinifex:
bur-like fascicles with 8–40 bristles, 5.5–10.2 mm long, the outer bristles absent or present and then usually flattened, the inner bristles 1–3 mm wide at the base (vs. C. longispinus, with bur-like fascicles with 45–75 bristles, 8.3–11.9 mm long, the outer bristles terete, the inner bristles 0.5–0.9 (–1.4) mm wide at the base).

Synonyms

  • Cenchrus carolinianaus Walt.
  • Cenchrus echinatus L. forma longispinus Hack.

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Cenchrus

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Cenchrus longispinus (Hack.) Fern. N

long-spined sandbur. Cenchrus carolinianaus Walt.; C. echinatus L. forma longispinus Hack. 
• CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; mostly southern New England and southern portions of northern 
states, though disjunct in Chittenden County, VT. Sandy soils of fields, roadsides, woodland edges, and railroads.