Spiny emex (Emex spinosa)

Mark Skinner (mskinner@coastalrcd.org)

Spiny emex is in the Buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) and is an up and coming invasive species in California’s south coast. It’s from the Mediterranean region of Africa infesting disturbed areas especially coastal areas with sandy soils. Spiny emex spreads rapidly, crowding out native species. It has simple lime green or yellowish bronze leaves which looks like dock (which is relative) or spinach. The plant is usually two to twelve inches in diameter and produces seeds with a hard, prickly casing and spines that project from the corners. It is easy to dig out of the ground with a fork. Older plant with lots of seeds can easily shred plastic bags. Handle gingerly with tough gloves. For large monotypic infestations, Telar is an effective herbicide.