The Enemy: Longspine sandbur (Cenchrus longispinus) this warm-season native annual grass can be troublesome. It typically invades sandy areas and is mostly from the Boise area west. It grows 8 inches to 3 feet tall. At the end of the vegetative growth, this plant produces a spikelet of oval seeds with a cluster of burs around them. It has been found in cultivated fields, pastures, well-drained fields and even in landscapes.
Strategy: These burs attach to almost everything from fur to clothing to rubber tires. As with most plants that produce a bur, this plant can attach itself to anything that it can sink its bur into and travel a large distance. It is particularly problematic to animals as it will penetrate into the pads of their feet, get caught in their mouths if accidentally eaten and has been known to reduce the quality of sheeps’ wool as it is difficult to remove. It particularly becomes a problem in newly seed lawns and can make it unbearable to walk or play in your own yard.
Defense: Prevention — keep from spreading this weed to uninfested areas. If you drive onto or set down a blanket or bag into an infested area, pull out the hitchhikers and place them into the garbage. Throwing them down is just what they want. Pulling the plant up when it is developing early in the spring is the first defense. Many herbicides are effective. In most sites such as cultivated crops, driveways, landscapes or even if it is growing in turf use pre-emergent herbicides to control this pest. As with all weeds, healthy vegetation will keep this plant from invading. Proper identification is key to controlling this plant and remember — NO HITCHHIKERS.