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Flora of the Sonoran Desert Region

Pennisetum ciliare - buffelgrass
A dangerous invasive exotic weed

by Mark Dimmitt

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A dense patch of buffelgrass in flower. Photo: T.R. Van Devender

A planted buffelgrass pasture in Sonora. When it burns, it kills adjacent native vegetation and the grass invades new ground. Repeat... Photo: T.R. Van Devender

Buffel grass burns vigorously; it survives but most native plants do not. Photo: T.R. Van Devender

A recent invasion on a steep rocky hill of the Pan Quemado Mountains, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona.
A major infestation in the Pan Quemado Mountains, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona. These patches could carry fire, in which case most of the native plants would be killed because they evolved in a fire-free environment.

A dense patch of about two acres in the Samaniego Hills, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona.

Buffelgrass can grow in very arid habitats, as along this wash on the Sonoran coast north of Punta Chueca. Average annual rainfall here is less than 5 inches (127 mm) and years with no rain have been recorded.

For more information, see the buffelgrass page on our Invaders website.