Cogongrass, one of the world’s worst weeds, has begun flowering in South Carolina. “We’ll be seeing blooms from now through June, and South Carolinians need to keep an eye out for it and report it to their county Extension office or the Clemson University Department of Plant Industry if they think they’ve seen it,” said George Kessler, Clemson professor of forest resources.

“The first cogongrass in flower seen in South Carolina was recently found at a site in Hampton County, just down the road from a formerly identified site,” he said. The site has been treated and will be monitored.

Cogongrass has now been found in seven South Carolina counties — Allendale, Anderson, Aiken, Beaufort, Charleston, Hampton and Pickens.

A native of Asia, cogongrass spreads through wind-blown seed and rhizomes, and once established it can choke out native plants, destroy sources of food for wildlife and raise the potential for forest fires, according to Kessler.

“Cogongrass poses a special problem,” said Steve Compton, one of the regulatory agents with DPI. “People find the white, fluffy seed heads attractive and some dig it up for home gardens.” His department has aggressively encouraged plant retailers and nurseries to remove cogongrass varieties from their inventories.

The flower, or seedhead, is silvery white in color, cylindrical in shape, and ranges in length from 2 to 8 inches. The seeds are light and fluffy, similar to the seeds on a mature dandelion.

More identification information can be found on the Internet at www.cogongrass.org/identification.cfm.

Kessler said that information, brochures, posters and assistance with cogongrass identification can be found at local Clemson Extension offices and local South Carolina Forestry Commission offices.

“Please notify these offices or the Department of Plant Industry at (864) 646-2130 if you think you have seen the plant in your area,” he said.

e-mail: tlollis@clemson.edu