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Mossman River Grass

Updated on September 3, 2012

Mossman River Grass (Cenchrus echinatus) is a highly invasive weed. It originates from Central America and its most common habitat is sandy shores. Once mature, the average height of Mossman River Grass is around 60 cm. The weed is easily recognizable by the clusters of spiky burrs on each stem. A single stem can hold up to 14 burrs and the burrs themselves are about 1 cm wide.

Seed Dispersal

Seed dispersal of Mossman River Grass is extraordinary. Not only do burrs adhere to animals and clothing quite easily, but they also float on water. This allows for two forms of seed transportation instead of one, like most other plants. The burrs can continue to grow throughout the year, too, which means Mossman River Grass is constantly reproducing.

Why is this Plant Invasive?

Mossman River Grass can kill surrounding plants and can injure humans with their burrs, causing them to be quite a nuisance. This weed competes with other plants for both nutrients and moisture. It is usually capable of beating out the previous inhabitants, where it can then overtake sections of land. The burrs are also sharp enough to pierce the skin of humans and animals alike. Serious injury can come from a burr piercing a tender part of the skin such as the eyes or tongue.


While some herbicides such as Glyphosate, Dichlobenil, and Fluazifop, do help control the growth and spread of Mossman River Grass, the most effective and cheap way of ridding the invasive weed from an area is by pulling the weed directly from the root. The use of herbicides can also be harmful to surrounding plants and runoff towards the ocean can be harmful to aquatic life, as well. The complete eradication of Mossman River Grass is relatively hard due to the effectiveness of their seed dispersal.


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