Ontario Weeds: Barnyard grass

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. For more information...

Name: Barnyard grass, 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.

Photos and Pictures:

Barnyard grass (A - plants; B - inflorescence with thick, dense branches).

Barnyard grass (A - plants; B - inflorescence with thick, dense branches).

Barnyard grass. A. Plant. B. Leaf-base. C. Panicle.

A. Plant. B. Leaf-base. C. Panicle.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stems & Roots: Stems erect, spreading or lying horizontally on the ground and bending upwards but rooting from nodes in contact with the soil; stems 5-150cm (2in.-5ft) long, coarse, smooth, usually round in cross-section but occasionally much flattened; leaves 5-50cm (2-20in.) long, 6-22mm (¼-¾in.) broad, deep green or somewhat purplish, hairless or with 1 to 3 solitary hairs near the base of the blade; leaf sheaths split with overlapping margins; ligule absent; no auricles.

Flowers & Fruit: Inflorescence 5-25cm (2-10in.) long having a central stem with several spreading, nearly erect, thick branches with rather dense clusters of spikelets; their colour varies from green to yellowish-green to dark purplish-green to almost black; each spikelet is covered with short, stiff hair and may either be awned or awnless; and contain a single fertile floret ("seed" or "grain"); awns straight or twisted, varying from 1-40mm (1/25-1-3/5in.) long; "seeds" about 3mm (1/8in.) long, hard, shiny, pale yellow, and rounded on one surface but flattened on the other. Flowers from July to August.

Habitat: Barnyard grass is a very 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 and becoming conspicuous in late summer and fall.A strain of Barnyard grass, that was cultivated under the name "Billion dollar grass," can occasionally be found in southwestern Ontario and is recognized by its erect stature and its dark purple, almost black inflorescence.

Similar Species: It is distinguished from all other weedy grasses in Canada by the complete absence of a ligule at the junction of leaf blade and leaf sheath, and its rather coarse, chunky inflorescence.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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