Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cenchrus Echinatus

Cenchrus echinatus is the scientific name for that common Outer Banks grass found in dry, sandy soil. Most folks know this plant as the producer of those irksome sand spurs.

Sand spurs may be small, but their barbs are razor sharp, and they stick to shoe laces, sneakers, pants legs, bare feet, and pet paws. Anyone who has stepped barefooted on a sand spur knows how painful they can be. Even plucking them from clothing must be performed with great care to prevent the numerous sharp points from penetrating the skin.

Sand Spur Grass

If any of our readers would like to carry home an authentic souvenir from Ocracoke, you are welcome to pull as many clumps of Cenchrus Echinatus from my side lot. You don't even have to ask permission!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Hurricane House and the Hurricane Boards. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous10:24 AM

    Phillip, I'll trade you some of that for what's in our side yard...Virginia Creeper. It's a doozy! Bet yours would keep the deer from coming in back to chow down the hosta!

  2. Anonymous11:40 AM

    Yeah, a nasty plant. Once fell down on a patch of them on a dune in the winter with long pants on. Had them in both palms and my pants were stuck to me, about 50 of them. Still have a bump caused by one on my knee years later, got infected, or something. Where I lived in Virginia, back in the day, people still bulldozed the dunes to get a flat beach. The dune I fell down on was one dune that escape that and this nasty plant seem to help keep the dune from blowing away. So, it does have some good. Now just tell me what good are those NC mosquitoes?

  3. Debbie Leonard9:20 PM

    I hate those things and I have taken home plenty in my tent and other camping supplies!

    Yes, sand spurs and mosquitoes...what good do they serve?!

  4. Wesley9:48 AM

    Have they always been native to the area? We first started camping at the Ocracoke NPS campground somewhere around 2004, and I don't remember any of them from that time. However, in more recent years, they seem to be everywhere. They also seem to have invaded the Oregon Inlet camprground, and rumor has it Frisco as well. However, we were at the Cape Point campground earlier this month and did not see a single one. From my limited experience, they seem to be a recent addition...just wondering if that is correct...

  5. Sand spurs have been the bane of bare feet on Ocracoke since I was a toddler (that would be 65+ years ago), and I am sure for much longer than that.

  6. Anonymous1:16 AM

    Perhaps sand spurs are Nature's way of telling you something's wrong. The wrong thing is to go where there are sand spurs duh! LOL stay away from where sand spurs are and ah, you won't get sand spurs. It is that simple. It is a defense mechanism an attempt to physically negatively reward your behavior of trespass. it is o k you don't have to thank me for explaining the great mysteries of life. F. Gump