Skip Navigation


Plant Industry - Plant Protection Section

Cogongrass – Identifying and eradicating a grassy weed

Cogongrass, a state and federal noxious weed, is considered one of the top 10 invasive weeds in the world. The grass spreads through seeds and rhizomes, and competes for resources with native plants and trees. The grass isn't suitable for wildlife forage and its density makes it difficult for small animals to burrow. Cogongrass also changes the fire structure of the forest, making forest fires and controlled burns very dangerous. Cogongrass is a serious concern for land managers working with forestry, roadsides, and utility right-of-ways.

Cogongrass seed head
Cogongrass rhizome
Cogongrass seed head (left) and roots (right).

Cogongrass also burns very hot, so wildfires or even controlled burns can get out of hand quickly. The hot fires can also damage young tree stands, resulting in poor establishment and pest damage.

Patch of cogongrass
Cogongrass on fire
A large patch of cogongrass.
A controlled burn set by the NCFS to provide some control to a patch of cogongrass.


This weed has been found 10 times in NC since 2012 and the goal is to eradicate it before it becomes a larger problem. The table below shows a timeline and where the weed was found:

County Year Status 
Pender (#1) 2012 Eradicated
Stanly  2013 Eradicated
Martin 2014 Eradicated
Scotland  2015 In-Progress
Wake (#1) 2016 In-Progress
Wake (#2) 2016 In-Progress
Pender (#2 - Re-infest) 2017 In-Progress
Pender (#3) 2017 In-Progress
Pender (#4) 2017 In-Progress
Sampson 2017 In-Progress


Distribution of Cogongrass since 2012 in North Carolina:

CG Map 2017

Printable PDF Map: Cogongrass Map

Information pertaining to Cogongrass can be found here:

A field guide to identifying Cogongrass has been published and you can find the digital version in the link below:

US Distribution of Cogongrass Infestation in 2010:

US Cogongrass distribution


For more information regarding Cogongrass in NC, visit the following press releases:

It is also illegal to sell ornamental varieties of Cogongrass (Red Baron and Japanese Blood) in the state. NCDA & CS has prohibited any sale of the noxious weed. More information can be found below:

For any more information regarding this particular invasive, please contact the Weed Specialist Jarred Driscoll at (919) 707-3741.

NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division - Plant Protection Section
Division Director - Dr. Bill Foote
Mailing Address: 1060 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1060
Physical Address: 216 West Jones Street, Raleigh NC 27603
Phone: (919) 707-3732 | FAX: (919) 733-1041

How can we make this page better for you?
Contact the NCDA&CS

Found a bug? Have a suggestion? Fill out the form below and we'll take a look!

Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Question or Comments:

Back to top

Get Email Alerts

Stay up to date with NCDA&CS. Sign up to receive the latest news and upcoming events via email.