Found throughout the Southern United States, sandbur (Cenchrus) is a biennial or perennial grassy weed that you may encounter while performing lawn maintenance or weed control. Due to its appreciation for sandy soils in tropical or temperate regions, it can also be found in California, though it is considered a summer annual. Although typically found on agricultural land, sandbur may also be found in sports fields, orchards, ditch banks, and along roadsides.
Growing as high as 2 ½ feet, sandbur forms in loose clumps and produces a number of culms at the base that sprawl over the ground. Usually covered by the sheaths of the dull green, flat, and hairless leaves, the culms may be green or have a reddish-green tint. It is not unusual for leaves to form along the entire length of the culms. The branches end in racemes topped with as many as 20 spiny burs that can be up to 4 inches long and easily attach to clothing or animal fur. Removal can be both difficult and painful.
Management of Sandbur
Sandbur is typically not a problem when a lawn is well maintained. However, it can quickly and easily take over a field that is unmanaged, resulting in a grazing pasture or hay crop that is of poor quality. If this occurs, it can be eradicated using an herbicide. It is easiest to get rid of sandbur when it is caught early. Homeowners who conduct regular weed control or hire a lawn care service to take care of it for them have little to worry about in most situations.