Fountain grass is an attractive
perennial grass with a densely clumped growth form and erect stems that grow
2 to 3 feet high. The small flowers of fountain grass are grouped in pink
or purple, bristly, upright inflorescences 6-15 inches long. Fruits are small,
dry achenes adorned with long showy bristles.
grass is a highly aggressive, fire- adapted colonizer that readily outcompetes
native plants and rapidly reestablishes after burning. In Hawaii, where it
alters the natural fire regime, fountain grass is a major threat to some
critically imperiled plant species and natural communities. Fountain grass
raises fuel loads, which increases the intensity and spread of a fire, and
results in severe damage to native, dry forest species adapted to less extreme
IN THE UNITED STATES
Fountain grass is found in Arizona, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee. In the Hawaiian islands,
it is found on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, and Hawaii.
HABITAT IN THE UNITED STATES
fountain grass invades many types of natural areas, from bare lava flows
to rangelands. It has a wide elevational range but is limited to areas with
a median annual rainfall of less than 50 inches. In southern California,
fountain grass invades grasslands, deserts, canyons and roadsides.
First collected in Hawaii
in 1914, fountain grass has been introduced to many parts of the world as
an ornamental grass. It is a poor pasture grass and a serious weed in many
BIOLOGY & SPREAD
is a perennial plant with primarily wind-dispersed seeds that may remain
viable in the soil for six years or longer. Its seeds may be dispersed greater
distances by water, vehicles, livestock and humans.
The long-lived seeds
of fountain grass make its control extremely difficult. Small infestations
may be managed by uprooting plants by hand and destroying the inflorescences
in order to prevent seed dispersal. Removal by hand may need to be repeated
several times per year. Extensive infestations of fountain grass are probably
best controlled with the help of herbicides, especially those with some systemic
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS.
NOTICE: MENTION OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS ON THIS WEB SITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT OF ANY MATERIAL.
Nancy Benton, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington,
Arnold A. Peterson, U.S. National Park Service,
Death Valley National Park, CA
Cronk, Q.C.B. and Fuller, J. 1995. Plant Invaders:
The Threat to Natural Ecosystems. Chapman & Hall: London. World Wide
Fund for Nature.
Swearingen, J. 2009. WeedUS Database of Plants Invading Natural Areas in the United States: Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum). http://www.invasive.org/weedus/subject.html?sub=6165.
Tunison, J.T. 1992. Fountain grass control in
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Management considerations and strategies.
In C.P. Stone, C.W. Smith, and J.T. Tunison (eds.), Alien Plant Invasions
in Native Ecosystems of Hawai`i: Management and Research. Univ. Hawaii Coop.
Natl. Park Resour. Studies Unit. Univ. Hawaii Press, Honolulu.
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group.