Don’t let the gorgeous green color and fluffy seed heads entice you; Cogongrass is a menace, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture tells us.
Native to Southeast Asia, Cogongrass has spread rapidly through the deep South over the last few decades, and has a devastating effect on plant species that surround it, displacing them as it grows every year in dense, circular patches.
A patch was discovered in June by Charles Bryson, a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist, who spotted it in Helena-West Helena alongside Arkansas Highway 49. Bryson notified Arkansas authorities of the finding, and the site was sprayed with herbicide on June 16.
“Botanists with the Arkansas Department of Transportation conducted surveys along Highway 49 and other roads in the area,” a press release said, “and detected no additional Cogongrass populations. The agencies are planning to conduct annual surveys along this and other routes coming into southeastern Arkansas from Mississippi.”
It can be hard to spot because it shares some characteristics with other native grasses, the Southern Regional Extension Forestry says, but has an off-center white vein down its leaves that might help identify it.
Any sightings of Cogongrass in Arkansas, should be reported to Paul Shell, the Department’s Plant Inspection and Quarantine Program Manager, at email@example.com or by calling 501-225-1598.