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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Foxtails - Green/Giant/Yellow

There are 3 different types of foxtails found commonly in Ontario: Green, Yellow, and Giant.

Scientific Names: Green foxtail, Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv.; Giant foxtail, Setaria faberii Herrm.; Yellow foxtail, Setaria glauca (L.) Beauv.

Other Names

Green Foxtail Giant Foxtail Yellow Foxtail
  • Sétaire verte
  • Bottle brush
  • Bottle grass
  • Bristle grass
  • Foxtail millet
  • Millet
  • Pigeon grass
  • Wild millet
  • Mil sauvage
  • Sétaire géante
  • Sétaire de Faber
  • Sétaire glauque
  • Bottle brush
  • Bottle grass
  • Bristle grass
  • Millet
  • Pigeon grass
  • Wild millet
  • Sétaire jaune
  • Foin sauvage
  • Mil sauvage

Family: Grass Family (Gramineae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed.

Habitat

Green Foxtail Giant Foxtail Yellow Foxtail
  • Very common and widespread throughout all agricultural regions of Ontario
  • Grows well in all soil textures and occurs in cultivated lands, waste places, roadsides, gardens and occasionally lawns
  • Native to China, recently introduced from the USA
  • Becoming abundant in fields and waste places in southern and eastern Ontario
  • Occurs throughout the agricultural regions of Ontario

Seedlings

Green Foxtail Giant Foxtail Yellow Foxtail
  • Looks hairless but hairs are present in the margins
  • New leaves appear rolled up on emergence
  • Hairs on the upper surface and margins of the leaves
  • New leaves appear rolled up on emergence
  • Hairless until the 3rd leaf stage
  • New leaves appear rolled up on emergence

Stems

Green Foxtail Giant Foxtail Yellow Foxtail
  • Erect or spreading
  • 10- 100 cm (4- 40 in.) or taller
  • Usually round in cross-section; can be flattened
  • Up to 2 m (6.5 ft) high
  • Similar to green foxtail

Leaves

Green Foxtail Giant Foxtail Yellow Foxtail
  • Upper leaf blades and sheaths mostly without hair
  • Margins and surface of blades rough with very find barbs
  • Leaf sheath split with overlapping margins, fringed with a band or short hair
  • Ligule a fringe of hair
  • No auricles
  • Leaf sheaths mostly smooth; blades finely hairy on the upper surface
  • Hairy along the margins
  • Ligule a dense band of hairs
  • No auricles
  • A few prominent, silky, kinky hairs on the upper surface of the leaf blade just near the stem
  • Leaf sheaths split, their margins smooth, green or slightly membranous and transparent
  • Ligule a fringe of hair
  • No auricles

Flowers

Green Foxtail Giant Foxtail Yellow Foxtail
  • Inflorescence: very dense spike 1- 15 cm (2/5- 6 in.) long and 0.6- 0.2 cm (1/4- 4/5 in.) wide; usually straight and erect, rarely somewhat curved; covered with short green to slightly purplish bristles
  • Spikelets: borne singly at the ends of the tiny branches; 2.5- 2.7 cm (1/10 in.) long; 1.0- 1.1 mm (1/25 in.) wide
  • Seeds: 1.8- 2.0 mm (1/14- 1/12 in.) long; 0.9- 1.0 mm (1/25 in.) wide; grey-brown with 5 parallel beige veins
  • Flowers from August to September
  • Inflorescence: dense, spike-like, erect or somewhat curved; 4.5- 17 cm (1 4/5- 6 7/10 in.) long by 1.5- 3 cm (3/5- 1 1/5 in.) thick; surrounded by light yellowish-green awn-like bristles
  • Spikelets: 1.5- 3 mm (1/16- 1/8 in.) long
  • Seeds: light green; abundantly cross-wrinkled
  • Flowers from late July to October
  • Inflorescence: 2- 10 cm (4/5- 4 in.) long: covered with numerous yellow to orange bristles with forward-pointing barbs
  • Seeds: slightly larger than green foxtail; more prominently cross-ridged; yellowish
  • Flowers from July to August

Often Confused With
Fall Panicum (Distinguished by the location of hairs; fall panicum- lower surface of leaf blade; foxtails- upper surface or no hairs)

 

Green foxtail leaves Green foxtail ligule Yellow, giant and green foxtail L-R Green foxtail seed headGreen foxtail leaf sheath Giant foxtail leaf Giant foxtail ligule Giant foxtail Giant foxtail leaf sheath Yellow foxtail leaf Yellow foxtail ligule Yellow foxtail seed head Yellow foxtail  leaf sheath
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