Cenchrus agrimonioides

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Cenchrus

Species

agrimonioides

Varieties

  • agrimonioides
  • laysanensis

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Kāmanomano
  • Kūmanomano

Hawaiian Names

  • Kamanomano
  • Kumanomano

Common Names

  • Agrimony sandbur
  • Laysan agrimony sandbur
  • Sandbur

Synonyms

  • Cenchrus calyculatus var. uniflorus
  • Cenchrus fusiformis
  • Cenchrus laysanensis
  • Cenchrus pedunculatus

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Non-Woody, Spreading

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Grass-like, Medium, 1 to 2.5
  • Grass-like, Tall, Greater than or equal to 2.5

Mature Size, Width

About four feet wide.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Container
  • Erosion Control
  • Ground Cover

Additional Landscape Use Information

An easy to grow native grass for use as a partial or full sun groundcover.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Locusts have been observed doing minimal to serious damage to leaves and stems. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

Little or no additional fertilizers are required for this native grass.

Pruning Information

Other than occasional pruning back when it travels into unwanted areas, kāmanomano will need little attention. Spent seed spikes may be clipped off for a cleaner appearance.

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Additional Water Information

Watering can be reduced once established and is a xeric or drought tolerant grass. However, plants look nicer when kept on the moister side.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Spacing Information

Kāmanomano can be planted from 2 to 4 feet apart and will eventually grow together forming a nice groundcover. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind

Soils

  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Organic

Limitations

Can be leggy and plants weaken if grown in too much shade. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi
  • Northwest Islands

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

Kāmanomano is rarely found from dry sandy or rocky slopes, ridges and lava plains to moist forests. Probably extinct on Hawaiʻi Island.

In the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, the variety laysanensis was found on last collected on Midway Atoll (Pihemanu) in 1902, on Laysan (Kauō) in 1911, and Kure (Kānemilohaʻi) in 1961. [3] It is now thought to be extinct since the 1980's.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Kāmanomano is one of about twenty species in the small, mostly New World, Grass family (Poaceae) genus Cenchrus.

There are a few naturalized Cenchrus species in the islands, notably the weedy irritant mauʻu kukū or common sandbur (Cenchrus echinatus). This most unwelcomed grass has copious small sharp burrs that attach themselves to unwary pets and a passerby's pants, socks, shoe laces, and exposed skin! The Hawaiian name kukū and the Latin species name echinatus both names refer to spines, thorns, or prickles--most apropos for this grassy "land-urchin" (vauna ʻāina).

Of the five Cenchrus species found in the Hawaiian Islands, only the critically endangered Cenchrus agrimonioides is native.

Etymology

Name Cenchrus is derived from the Greek, kenchros, a name of a small millet or one of the cereals resembling a small millet used by ancient Greeks.

The species name agrimonioides literally means "agrimony-like" or "resembling agrimony." The spikelets (fruit) of this grass do in fact resemble the burry fruit of the plant known as agrimony (Agrimonia spp.).

Background Information

The dstinction between the two varieties is noted by Hitchcock (1922) who said: "The Laysan specimens have somewhat larger burs and flat blades 15-20 cm. long and1 to 2 cm. wide, and the base of the bur is more abruptly enlarged upward. These may represent a distinct species. The specimens are said to be 3 or 4 feet tall." [3]

Early Hawaiian Use

Medicinal:

Leaves were pounded with salt to treat to wounds or sores. It was also used in bathing for maʻi ʻino (venereal disease). The bitter plant was mixed with ʻuala, pia and kō (sugar) for pāʻaoʻao (childhood disease, with physical weakness), and for killing worms and naio (pinworms) in the stomach. [2]

Other Uses:

According to one source, the early Hawaiians used "the leaves used in love magic are called hoʻomano." [1]

Modern Use

This native grass has been used in habitat restoration on islands such as on Kahoʻolawe.

Additional References

[1] http://wehewehe.org/ [accessed 12/16/09]

[2] "Native Hawaiian Medicine--Volume III" by The Rev. Kaluna M. Kaʻaiakamanu, page 56.

[3] "Cenchrus laysanensis (Gramineae) of the Leeward Islands, Hawaiian Plants Studies 47" by Harold St. John, pages 22-24.

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