Invasive plant species are defined as those plants that do not naturally occur in our area, and threaten their new environment once they are introduced.



Buffelgrass is an invasive species that was introduced from Africa in the 1930’s as a forage grass. The dense growth supports hot fires that can kill saguaros and key plants of the Sonoran Desert, as well as threatening homes and businesses. Unfortunately, this weed grows and spreads even more rapidly after a fire. It has no natural enemies in the Sonoran Desert; it spreads aggressively and displaces native plants by out-competing them for water, nutrients, and space. Animals, like mule deer and Sonoran Desert tortoises, that depend on native plant species are also threatened by the spread of this species.


  • Buffelgrass is a non-native, invasive species that is spreading rapidly across southern Arizona.
  • Buffelgrass poses a serious fire risk to homes and businesses and threatens to irrevocably alter our Sonoran Desert.
  • Buffelgrass stands can burn at over 1,400 degrees - nearly three times hotter than fires generated by native vegetation.
  • Buffelgrass fires are can kill saguaros and desert tortoise and eliminate their habitat.
  • Neither fire nor mowing are effective in controlling buffelgrass -it actually grows back more vigorously.
  • Over the past five years, the buffelgrass invasion in the Southwest has been the subject of considerable outreach, extensive media coverage and nearly-unanimous consensus over the need to aggressively control this invader grass in natural areas and around homes and businesses.


  • It is a shrubby grass that grows from a central crown
  • Stems branch above ground, like shrubs, giving the plants a clumpy appearance
  • Seed heads are bottlebrush-shaped, with a sandy or reddish hue
  • Leaf blades are ¼ inch wide with tiny hairs along the edges
  • After seed dispersal, the central stem is very rough to the touch


Pull it out using a digging bar to check in the grass for snakes
Dispose of the buffelgrass in trashbags for the landfill
Use herbicides such as Roundup Pro® or Kleenup Pro® when at least 50% of the buffelgrass plant’s leaves are green. If you are spraying in or around water, use an aquatic-approved glyphosate product like Rodeo®.

Also be aware of these non-native, invasive species

What You Can Do to Prevent the Spread of Invasives

  • Become more familiar with identification of invasive species and control methods
  • Landscape with plants that are native to the Sonoran Desert – they are perfectly adapted to the climate. Not only are they naturally beautiful, but they provide food and shelter for native birds, butterflies, lizards, and small mammals.
  • Remove invasive species from your landscaping
  • Avoid transporting invasive plants or seeds on shoes, pets, and vehicle tires
  • Volunteer to assist with the removal of invasive species

Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum)

Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon)

Giant Reed (Arundo donax)

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

Malta Star Thistle (Centaurea melitensis)

African Sumac (Rhus lancea)

Salt Cedar (Tamarix species)

Vinca or periwinkle (Vinca major)

Red Bromegrass (Bromus rubens)

Saharan Mustard (Brassica tournefortii)



For More Invasive Species Information:

For More Native Landscaping Information: