Cogongrass threatens state’s forests

By Peter Kent

CogongrassCogongrass, considered one of worst weeds in the world, has been found in South Carolina. Clemson plant industry officials, state naturalists and botanists are seeking to identify and destroy it.

This fall, cogongrass was found in Francis Marion National Forest by Jean Everett, a biologist at the College of Charleston. It poses a danger to native plants, destroys plant life for animals and raises the potential for forest fires.

Like many destructive plants, cogongrass was introduced into the United States inadvertently, coming into Alabama in packing material from Japan in 1911. Clemson’s Department of Plant Industry helps to prevent or contain plant pests in South Carolina through inspections, quarantines, controls and eradication programs.

“Cogongrass poses a special problem,” said Steve Compton, regulatory agent. “The weed is attractive, prompting people to dig it up for home gardens. One variety is even offered for sale.” However, the red variety, called Japanese bloodgrass or “Red Baron,” is also on the federal list of noxious weeds and poses a threat to native habitats.

For information: Steve Compton, 864-646-2134,