Weeds of Wednesday: Paragrass

Grass, Invasive pest plant, Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area

Paragrass (Urcochola utica) was clogging the ditch on the south side of Oslo Road near the southeastern entrance to the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, until Indian River County recently cleaned the with and mowed the right-of-way. Common names for this plant include para grass, buffalo grass, California grass, Carib grass, and Scotch grass.

The photograph above was taken on the invasive-infested 6.6 acre “ORCA link” property in 2008. More than 5 acres of the ORCA link formerly was a citrus grove. A Division of Forestry Hurricane Recovery grant funded a tree planting project. The contractor applied more $20,000 of potable water to the site, which brought an abundance of weeds and invasive plants including lots of paragrass, a Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council category #1 invasive pest plant. Paragrass thrives in moist places.

The genus name, Urochola, is derived from the Greek words oura (tail) and chola (grass) and refers to its awns (bristle-like appendages). Its species name, utica, means blunt. Paragrass is called a signal grass due the appearance of its inflorescence, an open panicle, which is said to resemble arms with signal flags.

The sheathes of this grass sport distinctive dense stiff hairs. The Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, UF/IFAS, provides extensive information about this invasive plant of moist places, which spreads by creeping stolons.