Pennisetum ciliare

Photo: Keir Morse

Synonyms: Cenchrus ciliaris

Common names: buffelgrass, buffel grass

Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare; also known as Cenchrus ciliaris) is an erect, perennial  bunch grass (Family Poaceae) growing to ca. 15 dm that is native to Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. It has established and become invasive in parts of the SW USA (Arizona) and Australia. Inflorescences can be up to 13cm long, and consist of spikelets subtended by arrays of feather-like bristles; the inner row of bristles is fused at the base. Reproduction appears to be largely apomictic (doesn’t require pollination). This grass was introduced in the 1930’s and 1940’s into the southwest as fodder, for erosion control, and as an ornamental. To date, new cultivars with wider environmental tolerances continue to be sold. Plants can be propagated both by seed and vegetatively. Buffelgrass can outcompete native vegetation by forming dense swards and can type-convert desert shrublands into grassland. Typically, areas that have been invaded with bufflegrass have decreased soil fertility, increased soil erosion, and altered fire regimes.


Cal-IPC Rating: Watch

CDFA Rating: None?


Plant Risk Assessment - An evaluation of the potential for a plant to be invasive in California.

Weed Management Notes

  • Management Notes - Information on management techniques and effectiveness from the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Weed Research & Information Center.

Cal-IPC Newsletter Articles

There are no newsletter articles associated with this species yet.

Cal-IPC Symposium Presentations

Presentations are linked where available. Where a presentation is not available, find more information by reading the abstract in the Cal-IPC Symposia Archive.

There are no Symposium presentations associated with this species yet.

Other Pennisetum ciliare Information

  • Bugwood - National database from the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia.
  • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.
  • Calflora - Distribution map and records of this species in California.
  • EDDMapS - Distribution of this species in North America.
  • GBIF - Global distribution information.
  • Jepson Interchange - Information on this plant's taxonomy, biology, and distribution from UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium.
  • USDA PLANTS Database - Information on identification and distribution, with links to websites in individual states.
  • The Plant List - Global taxonomic resource and collaborative clearinghouse from Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Missouri Botanic Garden and others.
  • Additional photos

    Pennisetum ciliare_florets and leaf blade_KeirMorse
    Pennisetum ciliare (buffelgrass) florets and leaf blade. Photo: Keir Morse
    Pennisetum ciliare_inflorescence_RonVanderhoff
    Pennisetum ciliare (buffelgrass) inflorescence. Photo: Ron Vanderhoff
    Pennisetum ciliare_spikelet_RonVanderhoff
    Pennisetum ciliare (buffelgrass) spikelet. Photo: Ron Vanderhoff
    Pennisetum ciliare_growth habit (irrigated)_RonVanderhoff
    Pennisetum ciliare (buffelgrass) growth habit (irrigated). Photo: Ron Vanderhoff
    Pennisetum ciliare_growth habit_starved_KeirMorse
    Pennisetum ciliare (buffelgrass) growth habit (starved). Photo: Keir Morse