Terrestrial Plants: Cogon Grass (Imperata cylindrical)

Origin and Date of Introduction: Asia; 1911-1920s.

Pathway / Media: Disturbed land paralleling highways; nurseries and packing material in shipping crates.

Reason for Introduction: Accidental, as packing material in shipping crates in Mobile, Alabama; deliberate, as an ornamental, to control erosion, and for livestock feed.

Preferred Habitat: Sandy soils with low nutrients, non-cultivated areas, and areas with some disturbance.

Ecological / Economic Damage: Decreases biodiversity among native grasses and the animals that depend on them; very flammable. Cogon grass invades disturbed areas such as highway shoulders, forming a dense mat that excludes native grasses.

Control Options: Herbicides and constant tillage; mowing and burning are not effective for long-term eradication.

Cogon Grass

Photo: Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Auburn Univeristy, Alabama A&M University)

Futher Reading: USDA Invasive Species Information Center