Cogongrass was accidentally introduced in the 1900s in packing materials; it has spread throughout the southeast. As of 2010, cogon grass infestations are not reported in North Carolina but it is in South Carolinian counties bordering the state and is very likely to find its way over the state line. The seeds of cogongrass are fluffy, reminiscent of dandelion seeds, and are easily dispersed through wind. It is much easier to control an invasive species if we can manage infestations when they are still small. Cogongrass is considered one of the world’s worst weeds. So, please watch out for cogongrass and report infestations to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Weed Specialist at 1-800-206-9333.
Cogongrass grows in dense bunches which can form monotypic mats that can be as high as 6’ tall. Cogongrass is easy to identify in the spring, when its characteristic cottony, cylindrical seed head (2 – 8” long) blooms. It leaves are also fairly easy to identify because the midrib of the leaf is white and off-center. Leaves can be up to 6’ long and are about 1” wide, and taper to sharp points. The leaf margins are finely toothed. Leaves can turn reddish in the fall. Rhizomes form dense mats in the first foot of soil. The rhizomes have sharp tips.
Fact Sheet: Cogongrass
Identification, History, and Management - John Taggart - Cogongrass
Photo credit: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org