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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Scientific Name: Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) Beauv.

Other Names: échinochloa pied-de-coq, summer grass, water grass, pied-de-coq

Family: Grass Family (Gramineae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed.

Habitat: Widespread and troublesome weed throughout southern Ontario and occurs sporadically in the north and northwest as well. It occurs in cultivated fields, waste places, along road-sides, in gardens and occasionally in lawns, usually being more abundant in moist soil.


  • Hairless
  • Leaves are erect, long with no ligule
  • Leaf sheath flattened in cross-section
  • New leaves appear rolled up upon emergence


  • Erect, spreading or lying horizontally on the ground and bending upwards but rooting from nodes in contact with the soil
  • 5 - 150 cm (2 in.- 5 ft.) long
  • Coarse, smooth, usually round in cross-section but occasionally much flattened


  • 5 - 50 cm ( 2- 20 in.) long, 6 - 22 mm (¼ - ¾ in.) broad
  • Deep green or somewhat purplish
  • Hairless or with 1- 3 solitary hairs near the base of the blade
  • Leaf sheaths split with overlapping margins
  • Ligule absent
  • No auricles


  • Inflorescence 5 - 25 cm ( 2- 10 in.) long
  • Central stem with several spreading, nearly erect, thick branches with dense clusters of spikelets
  • Green to yellowish-green to dark purplish-green to almost black
  • Each spikelet is covered with short, stiff hair, awned or awnless
  • Single fertile seed:
    • About 3 mm (1/8 in.) long
    • Hard
    • Shiny
    • Pale yellow
    • Rounded on one surface, flattened on the other
  • Flowers from July to August

Often Confused With
Fall Panicum (Fall panicum may resemble barnyard grass in mature form but fall panicum has a distinct ligule, barnyard grass has no ligule)

Barnyard grass seedling Barnyard grass seedling Barnyard grass Barnyard grass full grown plantClick to enlarge.