Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Chinese Fountaingrass - Cenchrus purpurascens   Thunberg
Members of Cenchrus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Poaceae
AuthorThunberg
DistributionMountains only, so far as is known.

Native to southestern Asia; in N.A. scattered records.
AbundanceRare.
HabitatThe Alleghany County specimen is from a disturbed roadside ditch.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-November.
IdentificationThis is a very large and robust sandspur, more closely related to C. americanus than to our other species. But unlike that species, C. purpurascens has long, dark brown bristles.
Taxonomic CommentsA synonym is Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Sprengel.

Sandspurs are notorious for their extremely strong and sharp spines which catch on clothing, fur, and skin alike. The spines actually are flattened and extremely hardened bristles borne at the base of each spikelet. There also is a second set of bristles just outside the spines and not hardened. Care must be taken with a dissecting scope to reach accurate identification. NOTE: Some sites use "sandspur" and some use "sandbur" for the group common name for Cenchrus. In the Carolinas, at least, "sandspur" is much the more often used -- as do Weakley (2018) and RAB (1968) -- and thus the website editors are using that group common name.
Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE *
Global RankG5
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Wes Knappalong Rt. 276, heading toward Looking Glass Falls in Transylvania County
Wes KnappInflorescence
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