Native to the Mediterranean region, but deliberately introduced to the United States as a grass desirable for forage. Now widespread throughout the warm regions of the U.S. where it is a severe pest weed problem.
A perennial grass weed that spreads either by seeds or by its underground rhizomes. It has become a problem in all crops, orchards, vineyards, ditch banks, roadsides, and other situations.
While normally a good forage crop, under stress or drought conditions, or due to severe frost, it can form hydrocyanic acid which accumulates in the plant and then becomes toxic to grazing animals.
Mature plants can be very tall and spreading – up to 8 feet tall with very leafy, course foliage. Leaves may grow to 3 feet long and 1 inch wide. They have distinct light colored midveins that easily snap or break when the leaf is folded.
Stems terminate in the flower spike, which is reddish colored and very open and loosely formed. The spike has numerous branches, and begins to droop as it ages. The branches, or spikelets, form at the nodes, with 2 or 3 spikelets at a node.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
A perennial that spreads and reproduces easily from its fleshy rhizomes, and discing the soil only spreads the pieces of the rhizomes, and thus the infestation. Seeds may remain dormant for many years.