Pennisetum setaceum - (Forsk.) Chiov.
Crimson Fountain Grass
Other English Common Names: Crimson Fountaingrass, Fountaingrass
Other Common Names: crimson fountaingrass
Synonym(s): Cenchrus setaceus (Forssk.) Morrone
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.148933
Element Code: PMPOA4Q060
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Pennisetum
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Pennisetum setaceum
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Arizona (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Florida (SNA), Hawaii (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), Tennessee (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, FLexotic, HIexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, NMexotic, NVexotic, TNexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High/Medium
Rounded I-Rank: High
I-Rank Reasons Summary: This fire-adapted colonizer causes major ecological impact by altering the natural fire regime. It is not in many states, but where it does occur, it is continuing to spread locally. It is also very difficult to control due to the longevity of the seeds.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High/Medium
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Medium
I-Rank Review Date: 22Feb2004
Evaluator: Lu, S.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to northern and tropical Africa, and temperate Asia (Weber 2003). Native to open, scrubby habitats in tropical Africa, the Middle East, and southwest Asia (Floridata 2003).

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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species is a non-native that is established outside of cultivation (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invades natural areas in Hawaii and western U.S. (Weber 2003).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High/Medium

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:High significance
Comments: Fire-adapted colonizer that rapidly reestablishes after burning. In Hawaii and the Sonoran Desert, it alters the natural fire regime by raising fuel loads, which increases the intensity and spread of a fire. (Benton 1997, Esque et al. 2002). Very fire and drought tolerant. Promotes fires by accumulation of large quantities of dead biomass, and the grass spreads as a result of fires because it rapidly colonizes burned areas. (Weber 2003). It is a fire-stimulated grass which carries intense fires throughout its range (PIER 2003). It disrupts primary succession when in invades bare lava flows in Hawaii (Tunison 1992).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Unknown

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: This bunchgrass displaces native grassland communities where invasive. It forms thick stands that impede growth and regeneration of native plants, completely eliminating the native vegetation in time. (Weber 2003) In Hawaii, this plant causes fires that result in severe damage to native, dry forest species adapted to less extreme fire regimes (Benton 1997). This plant can outgrow and outcompete the native Hawaiian grass Heteropogon contortus in the arid lowlands of Hawaii (Bossard et al. 2000). Can form monospecific stands (Tunison 1992).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Unknown

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:High significance
Comments: This bunchgrass displaces native grassland communities where invasive. It forms thick stands that impede growth and regeneration of native plants, completely eliminating the native vegetation in time. (Weber 2003) In Hawaii, it is a major threat to native, dry forest species adapted to less extreme fire regimes. (Benton 1997) Also impact ground-nesting birds and terrestrial animals (Bossard et al. 2000). Endangers the native woody plant communities it invades in Hawaii (Tunison 1992).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Established in 8 states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Tennessee (Kartesz 1999). In California, it is found along the coast from the San Francisco Bay Area to the South Coast and Baja California, and is also found in inland areas (Bossard et al. 2000).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Moderate significance
Comments: Considered a noxious weed in Hawaii and Nevada (PLANTS database, no date). Considered one of the most invasive widespread wildland pest plants in California (Floridata 2001).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High/Low significance
Comments: In at least 6 ecoregions, and in at most 37 ecoregions(Inference using data from Kartesz 1999 and TNC Ecoregion 2001 map).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: Invades grasslands, woodlands, coastal dunes, and desert scrub (Weber 2003). In California, this plant invades grasslands, deserts, canyons, and roadsides. This plant is a very serious weed in many dry habitats. (Benton 1997) In Hawaii, this plant invades dry forests, roadsides, grasslands, lava fields, and cinder fields (PIER 2003). Grows in xeric and mesic habitats from sea level to above 8990 feet in elevation in Hawaii (Tunison 1992).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:High/Low significance
Comments: In Hawaii, this plant has spread aggressively throughout leeward Hawaii island during the past two decades (Loope et al. 1992). Was introduced to the island of Hawaii in the Kona district in the early part of the 20th century. Now well established on the leeward side of the island. (Tunison 1992).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:High/Low significance
Comments: It has a wide elevational range in Hawaii but is limited to areas with a median annual rainfall of less than 50 inches (Benton 1997). Extremely drought tolerant. USDA zones 8-11 (Floridata 2001). In Hawaii, poses great threat to the largely barren, relatively undisturbed ecosystems of upper Haleakala on Maui (Lloyd et al. 1992).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Seeds are wind dispersed (Weber 2003; PIER 2003) and may be dispersed long distances by water, vehicles, livestock, humans (Benton 1997), and possibly birds (Tunison 1992).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High significance
Comments: Fountain grass is still spreading in southern California (Bossard et al. 2000). In Hawaii, this plant has spread aggressively throughout leeward Hawaii island during the past two decades (Loope et al. 1992). Was introduced to the island of Hawaii in the Kona district in the early part of the 20th century. Now well established on the leeward side of the island. (Tunison 1992).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Not ranked

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:High/Low significance
Comments: Very invasive in the Canary Islands (Tenerife and Gran Canaria) (PIER 2003). Also established in Canada (Kartesz 1999), Australia (Floridata 2001), Fiji (Bossard et al. 2000) and New Caledonia, and Palau (PIER 2003). Established in but does not invade natural areas in southern Africa, New Zealand, South Atlantic Islands, and Micronesia (Weber 2003).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Seeds may remain viable in the soil for six years or longer (Benton 1997). Prolific seed producer (PIER 2003).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Medium

17. General Management Difficulty:High significance
Comments: Small patches can be manually controlled, while larger infestations can be chemically controlled (Weber 2003). Since the seeds are long-lived, it makes it extremely difficult to control. Small infestation may be uprooted by hand several times per year, while extensive infestations can be controlled the best with herbicides, especially those with some systemic activity. (Benton 1997) In Hawaii, herbicides must be used on all plants except the isolated ones (PIER 2003). Difficult to eliminate, burning is not an effective management control method (Bossard et al. 2000).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Moderate significance
Comments: Since the seeds remain viable in the soil for six years or longer, it makes it extremely difficult to control (Benton 1997).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Unknown
Comments: Glyphosate is applied by spraying and by the drizzle method to control this plant (PIER 2003). Hexazinone may affect native trees (Bossard et al. 2000).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Unknown

Other Considerations: Ability to adapt, physiologically and morphologically, to different environments. Growth and reproduction traits change most prominently with altitude, while physiological traits are more strongly affected by the physical environment (e.g., photosynthetic rates are higher and higher altitudes) (Bossard et al. 2000).
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Benton, N. 1997. Fountain Grass - Pennisetum setaceum. Weeds Gone Wild Factsheets. Plant Conservation Alliance. Available: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/pese1.htm. (Accessed 2002).

  • Bossard, C.C., J.M. Randall, and M. Hoshovsky. (eds.) 2000. Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

  • Chemisquy, M.A., L.M. Giussani, M.A. Scataglini, E.A. Kellogg & O. Morrone. 2010. Phylogenetic studies favour the unification of Pennisetum, Cenchrus and Odontelytrum (Poaceae): a combined nuclear, plastid and morphological analysis, and nomenclatural combinations in Cenchrus. Ann. Bot. (Oxford), n.s. 106: 107-130.

  • Esque, T. C., M. A. Burquez, C. R. Schwalbe, T. R. Van Devender, M. J. M. Nuhuis, and P. Anning. 2002. Fire ecology of the Sonoran desert tortoise. Pages 312-333 in Van Devender, T. R., editor. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Loope, L.L., R.J. Nagata, and A.C. Medeiros. 1992. Alien plants in Haleakala National Park. Pp. 551-576. In C.P. Stone, C.W. Smith, and J.T. Tunison (eds.), Alien Plant Invasions in Native Ecosystems of Hawaii, Management and Research. University of Hawaii Press. Available: http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/PenSet_1992LoopeetalExcerpt.htm.

  • Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk Project (PIER). 2003. December 2-last update. Plant Threats to Pacific Ecosystems: Adenanthera pavonina. Online. Available: http://www.hear.org/pier/threats.htm. Accessed 2004, January 15.

  • Tunison, J.T. 1992b. Fountain grass control in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Management Considerations and Strategies. Pp. 376-393. In C.P. Stone, C.W. Smith, and J.T. Tunison (eds.), Alien Plant Invasions in Native Ecosystems of Hawaii, Management and Research. University of Hawaii Press. Available: http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/PenSet_1992TunisonExcerpt.htm.

  • USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov) . National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

  • Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Working Draft of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU), North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Online. Available: www.herbarium.unc.edu/FloraArchives/WeakleyFlora_2015-05-29.pdf (Accessed 2015).

  • Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 548 pp.

  • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 1992. Catalog of The Colorado Flora: A Biodiversity Baseline. University Press of Colorado, Niwot, CO.

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