© Larry Allain. Photo courtesy of Larry Allain, National Wetlands Research Center, USGS.
Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauv.
Scientific Name Synonyms:
Panicum crus-galli L.
Life Span: Annual
Origin: Introduced (Europe)
Growth Characteristics: A vigorous introduced grass that grows 1-5 feet tall. Roots are fibrous. It flowers from July-September, and reproduces through seed.
Seedhead: Inflorescence is a panicle with flowers maturing from the bottom upwards. It is often reddish to dark purple, 4-8 inches long, and can be upright or nodding. Spikelets are arranged on one side of the panicle branches and contain single florets. The lemma surround the seed, is covered with stiff bristles, has a rough awn up to 1/3 inch long or occasionally much longer. The seeds are nearly oval, shiny, and yellowish-gray to brown.
Leaves: Leaves are flat, 4 to 12 inches long and 0.2 to 0.6 inch wide. They are smooth to sparsely hairy. The margins are often crinkled, with veins except the midrib of the leaf inconspicuous. Leaves are folded in the bud, ligules and auricles absent.
Stems: May be solitary or in small tufts. The stems are decumbent at the base during early growth, becoming more erect, particularly where growing conditions are favorable.
Barnyardgrass is an introduces weedy grass which invades corrals, yards, cultivated fields, waste places, along ditches, marshes, wet meadows, floodplains, along lakeshores and streambanks, and other disturbed area during periods of non-use. Although it is invasive, it is not strongly competitive with native plants except in low, moist, disturbed areas. It is self-pollinating and a prolific seed producer (750,000-1 million per plant). The seed viability drops after one year, but can last up to 13 years. It is tolerant to long wet periods and withstands considerable salt and alkali. It can be found in many different sites, including Its elevation range in Utah is 2,705 feet to 7,045 feet. Barnyardgrass tolerates poor drainage and flooding, but it cannot handle severe drought, and is intolerant of shade.
Soils: Most often found on disturbed, non-saline soils, but can grow on a variety of soil types. It prefers rich moist soils, but can also tolerate poorly drained soils.
Associated Species: Kentucky Bluegrass
Uses and Management:
Barnyardgrass produces fair pasture when grazed during early growth stages, but it becomes harsh and unpalatable at maturity. It can be cultivated for hay.
Seeds of barnyar grass are eaten by songbirds, waterfowl, and greater prairie chickens.
Barnyardgrass may harbor a virus-like disease of cereal grains.