Native to Europe, but introduced and now common throughout the western United States.
A winter annual grass weed, which infests virtually any situation – crops, landscape, turf, roadsides, ditch banks, waste areas.
Reproduction is from seeds that begin to germinate in the fall and will germinate through mid-spring. A major problem for animals, as the awns and seeds from this plant are one of the common “foxtails” that become lodged in the eyes, nose, ears, or throat of dogs, cats, and grazing livestock. Due to the spiny hairs covering the awns they tend to move only one direction through hair, and cannot be dislodged by the animal.
Mature plants may grow to as high as 3 feet tall, with multiple branching from the base. A distinct bend in the stem may occur at the lower nodes, giving the plant a spreading, almost prostrate appearance at the lower parts.
Leaf blades may be around 1/3 inch wide and 6” long, with a distinct sheath at the base which surrounds the stem. The stem terminates in the flower spike, which may develop a reddish tint as it matures, and also which may be partially enclosed within the uppermost leaf.
The flower spike may be as much as 3 inches long, with very stiff bristles that themselves may be 2 inches long. As they mature and dry the spikes may break apart, leaving partial spikes still on the end of the stem.
Characteristicts Important to Control: