Thursday, August 26, 2021

Beware the Sandspur

Sandspur photo by Seaside Photography
Late Summer has arrived and with it, the Sandspurs have developed into it's annual cycle of Spiky Spurs.

The Latin name for Sandspurs is Cenchrus. Sandspur plants are part of the grass family and actually look like grass in the beginning stages of it's growth. Sandspurs are also known as Buffelgrasses, Sandspurs and Sand Spur.

Sandspurs can be found all over the Eastern Coastal areas of the United States and Hawaii. 

All though Sand is in the name of Sandspurs, sandy soil is not the only soil that Sandspurs grow. Sandspurs do thrive in the Sandy soil and create a more noticeable problem for people and pets in beachy areas. 

Since late summer is the time that the spikey spurs develop this is the time to be aware and cautious. As you can see in the photograph the Sandspurs are starting to turn a purple color now. When they reach the full purple color they will fall more easily from the stem to attach to people and animals. When they turn a tan/brownish color and are fully detached from the stem, they become more troublesome and harder to avoid.

The Sandspurs can attach and puncture not only the skin of people by the pads of dog and cat feet as well. Not only does having a Sandspur hurt if it punctures skin, but it is also troublesome to remove. The best advise I have found is to use a cloth to cover the Sandspur to gently remove, that way you are not puncturing your fingers as you remove the Sandspur.

So if your going to be exploring sandy shores and trails, please remember to bring a handkerchief , bandana etc. just in case your run across some Sandspurs.

Also remember that even small puncture wounds require medical attention. Please clean puncture wounds with soup and water or hydrogen peroxide and apply triple antibiotic to puncture wounds. If a puncture wound caused by a Sandspur becomes infected please seek professional medical attention.

Sandspurs are even mentioned in one of the Pampered Pets Guide's Veterinarian articles:

"Also let's not forget about our local favorites the sandspurs! We see these little "spurs" stuck in paws, ears and sometimes the mouth (under the tongue!). To avoid sandspurs stay out of those tall grassy areas unfamiliar to you." Barrett Welch, DVM - Animal Hospital of Nags Head

Sandspurs in nature will leave with the first frost, and not return in full threat mode, until next year around this same time. By being aware you can avoid these spikey Spurs and know what to do if you run across Sandspurs out in nature.