Pennisetum setaceum | Crimson fountaingrass
Regulated invasive species of Union concern under the European Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species [1143/2014].
Introduction pathways - 1
Escape from Confinement
Introduction pathways subclass - 1
Introduction pathways - 2
Release in Nature
Introduction pathways subclass - 2
NAPRA Ireland risk assessed
Long-lived perennial grass growing up to 1.3m high (EPPO, 2012). Small pink, tan or purple flowers carried on long bristles from 8-30cm long (EPPO, 2012). Leaves may change colour in relation to water availability and go from green in winter to brown in summer (EPPO, 2012). Fruits are achenes with long bristles.
Very successful in dry conditions but cannot compete with native grasses in wetter environments (EPPO, 2012). Requires annual rainfall <127cm (EPPO, 2012; Kaufman, 2012). Likes full sun but can be found in partial shade (EPPO, 2012). Tolerates any soil type as long as it is free-draining (Kaufman, 2012). Enters an inactive state during drought and freezing or near freezing conditions (EPPO, 2012; GISD, 2015). Forms dense monospecific stands crowding out native plants and competing for valuable resources (EPPO, 2012). Increases the risk and intensity of fire due to its high inflammability in winter. Fires can be detrimental to the habitats of animals and ground nesting birds (Benton, 2009).
Reproduces by seed, which is dispersed by wind and anthropogenic means (Benton, 2009). Produces seed in the first year (EPPO, 2012). Seed production is low (approximately 100 seeds per plant) but is produced several times a year (EPPO, 2012). Mainly self pollinating (EPPO, 2012).
Pathway and vector description
Introduced as an ornamental and from there spreads by seed to the wild. It is readily available for purchase online. Has also been introduced for soil stabilization (EPPO, 2012). Vectors are wind, water, the fur of animals and vehicles spreading seed along roadways and railways (Benton, 2009).
Mechanism of impact
There is currently an EU wide ban on the sale, growing and keeping of this plant (European Commission, 2017).
Control is extremely difficult due to the lifespan of the seedbank (Benton, 2009; EPPO, 2012).
Small colonies can be pulled out by hand or dug up prior to seed set. This may be necessary several times a year (Benton, 2009). Native grass species should be planted post control (EPPO, 2012; GISD, 2015).
Larger infestations can be controlled by spraying with herbicides such as fluazifop, quizalofop and glyphosate.
A pioneer of disturbed areas. Found in deserts, road and railsides, wasteland, grasslands and pastures (EPPO, 2012).
Temperate Asia, Tropical Asia, Africa
Pennisetum advena (previously Pennisetum setaceum var. rubrum). This species is usually sterile and has wider leaves and a bushier infloresence (Kaufman, 2012).
Introduced to France, Italy, Spain, USA, the Carribean and Oceania.
Native to North Africa and Asia
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022
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How can you help
Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Do not purchase or plant in your garden. Dispose of any garden plants or weeds responsibly.
Benton N, 2009. Fountain grass: Pennisetum setaceum (Forsk.) Chiov. Viginia, USA: The Nature Conservancy. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/pese1.htm Site accessed 22 September 2017.
European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) (2012) Mini Datasheet on Pennisetum setaceum (Poaceae). EPPO, Paris. https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/PESSA/documents Site accessed 21 September 2017.
European Commission. (2017). Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern. European Union, Luxembourg.
Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) (2015). Species profile Cenchrus setaceus. Available from: http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=309 Site accessed 21 September 2017.
Kaufman, S (2012) Invasive Species Compendium. Datasheet report for Pennisetum setaceum (Fountain grass). CABI. http://www.cabi.org Site accessed 21 September 2017.
Also referred to as Cenchrus setaceus.