Dead not Alive:
Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) has become a major problem for landowners, land managers, foresters, and governmental agencies since its introduction into Alabama. Known to many as japgrass, cogongrass was accidentally introduced into Alabama near Grand Bay about 1911 as seed in packing materials from Japan (4). Purposeful introductions soon followed in other areas of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, with the primary intent for forage production (1,4). Horticultural varieties of cogongrass continue to be sold under the name Japanese bloodgrass or Red Baron grass, although illegal in the state of Alabama. Infestations of this perennial grass from Asia forms exclusive colonies, displacing native vegetation with the exception of mature trees (5). In addition, cogongrass is a fire adapted species, meaning that it thrives where fire is a regular occurrence (1,4). As a result, cogongrass burns hot and readily, creating safety and property loss concerns. Wildfire in cogongrass can kill mature and seedling trees and native plants, furthering its domination. Rights-of-way managers loathe cogongrass for its unsightly growth habit, difficulty in mowing, and displacement of more manageable species. Cogongrass spreads by both wind-blown seeds and underground creeping rhizomes. The rhizomes can form a dense mat in the upper 6-8 inches of soil and may comprise as much as 80% of the total plant mass (1,2). It is the rhizome system that makes this plant particularly hard to control. Elimination of aboveground portions of the plant can be easily accomplished, but if the rhizomes are not killed or removed, rapid re-sprouting and regrowth will occur. Conservative estimates put the infested acreage between 500,000 and one million in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle. In Alabama, cogongrass has been found in 32 counties and as far north as Winston County (see map). Regionally, cogongrass can be found throughout Mississippi and Florida, and...
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