Barnyard grass in moist creekline

Seed head, lance-shaped

Flat dark green leaf with mid vein

Alternate leaf arrangement

Leaf with no ligule

Stem branching at node (elbow)

Leaf sheath wrapped around stem

Flower/seed head forming

Close up of flower/seed on a spiklet.


Scientific Name

Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauv

Common Names

barnyard grass, cockspur, barnyard millet


Europe and India



Distinguishing Characteristics

This is a tall (up to 1 m), erect, clumped annual (living only 1 season, summer/autumn) grass with stems often growing from the lower nodes (elbows). 

Leaves are deep green, flat and with no ligule (appendage at base of leaf). Leaf blade is long, 20mm wide, hairless or slightly hairy on the margins near the base, tapered to a point with prominent midrib.

Inflorescence (flower head) has up to 15 spikelets in a lance-shaped arrangement. Spiklets are usually straight. When in flower spiklets appear green and tinged with purple. Flowers/seed are not in obvious rows. Fruit (grain) is pale brown when ripe.

This grass is found in disturbed areas, often around water courses.

It is easily removed by cutting the roots out with a knife. Spraying with glyphosate is also effective.


Other plants easily confused with this plant

There are 17 species of Echinochloa in Australia, of these 8 are weeds. At least 12 are found in NSW.

Echinochloa colona  is a widespread native has a narrow, hanging inflorescence (flowerhead) with spikelets in regular rows and grain is whitish.  All of the native species seem to have narrower leaves. If in doubt check with an expert.


Sources & References

"Weeds - an illustrated botanical guide to weeds of Australia" by B. A. Auld and R. W. Medd

"Plantnet FloraOnline"  (2005)



Prepared by Justin KY Chu, July 2005

Checked by IEWF, May 2006