Spread of cogon grass, region's drought increase fire risk - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Spread of cogon grass, region's drought increase fire risk

Cogon Grass Cogon Grass

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Mississippi Forestry Commission spokesman Ed Brown calls cogon grass a super weed.

He's seen it grow in dry places that support little life and down on the water's edge.

He says he's even seen it taking over a patch of kudzu.

The invasive weed already has infested more than 1 million acres nationwide and continues to spread across the parched Southeast.

Experts say the region's drought makes the highly flammable intruder more threatening than ever.

Cogon grass, known for its fluffy, silvery white seed heads, has marched its way into gardens, forests and highway medians across the region.

Control and eradication programs have kicked into high gear.

Now in its flowering stage, cogon grass can burn all year and when it catches fire, experts say it burns higher and hotter than regular grass during wildfires.

It's most flammable in colder months when it appears as a tall, thick mass of brown-colored grass.

But drought conditions in the Southeast have kept the weed dry and increased its risk as a fire hazard this spring, experts say.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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