Report A Pest Hawaii Image Map

Pest Hotline
Statewide: 643-PEST
More phone numbers

Report your pest in person.

Report a known pest or a plant or animal that you suspect may be acting invasively.


Find us on Facebook

Have you seen Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum)?
Hawaii Early Detection Network Priority Pest for the islands of Kauai, Maui, Lanai, and Molokai

Pennisetum setaceum
Fountain grass forms dense clumps
Pennisetum setaceum
Fountain grass infestation, Kailua-Kona, HI.
Pennisetum setaceum
Flower detail
Images: Forest & Kim Starr

Identification: Fountain grass is currently only known to grow in a few locations in Maui County (see Maui and Lanai maps). Fountain grass is a perennial, clumping grass that can grow in a variety of habitats, from bare lava, to rangeland, to urban roadsides in drier areas of the Hawaiian islands (<127 cm rain/yr). It can reach a height of 0.2-1 m (0.5-3 ft) with bristly, cylindrical shaped purple or rose-colored flower head (100-250 mm or 4-10 in long).
Impacts: Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, fountain grass has become an aggressive habitat-invader. It degrades the quality of pasture lands, particularly in drier areas. Fountain grass is also fire-adapted and can sustain fires that spread quickly into adjacent areas. Its dried leaves increase the intensity of wildfires. After a fire it resprouts faster than native plants.
Dispersal Mechanism: Fountain grass is dispersed through the horticultural trade as an ornamental grass. Its seeds are also transported via the wind, water, vehicles, livestock, and humans. Fountain grass is a Hawaii State Noxious Weed. It is illegal to introduce or transport any part of this plant in Hawaii. It is widespread on the Big Island and Oahu, and found sparsely on Kauai in Kalaheo and Hanapepe. If you find any fountain grass in Maui, Molokai, or Lanai, or any new populations on Kauai- let us know!

More information about this pest external link

Fountain grass look-alikes:

Red fountain grass (Pennisetum macrostachyum):
Red fountain grass has similar nodding, long seed heads to fountain grass, but can be differentiated by red or purple tinted foliage and seed heads. Red fountain grass also grows much taller (1.8-2.4 m or 6-8 ft).

Pennisetum macrostachyum
Red fountain grass at Lahainaluna high school in Lahaina, Maui

Feathertop (Pennisetum villosum):
Feathertop is another perinneal, clumping grass that is grown in gardens with a similar growth structure and leaves to fountain grass. Feathertop produces distinctive feathery seed heads that can grow up to 90 cm (35 in) in length.

Feathertop (Pennisetum villosum)
Last Updated: Monday January 30 2012. If you have any questions about the Hawaii Early Detection Network contact
Funding and support for this project was made possible by the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council, the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry assistance, and University of Hawai'i-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.