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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Barnyardgrass  (Echinochloa crus-galli)

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Life stages of Barnyardgrass top picture bottom left picture bottom right picture

Barnyardgrass is a summer annual grass that germinates from late winter or early spring to through the summer. It is found throughout California up to 4900 feet (1500 m) and inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed areas. Barnyardgrass characteristics are highly variable from plant to plant.


Disturbed moist places, roadsides, ditches, irrigated crop fields, pastures, orchards, vineyards, landscaped areas, and margins of ponds and rice fields.


The seedling stem and leaf blades resemble those of the mature plant. The leaves are rolled in the bud, blades are flat, and the base of the seedling is tinged maroon.

Young plant

Stems often grow outward along the ground before turning upward.


Barnyardgrass does not have a ligule or an auricle. It is the only common summer grass with no hairs or membranes at the collar.

Mature plant

Mature plants grow up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and are highly variable in appearance. Stems are flattened near the base. Leaf blades are flat, rolled in the bud, and the upper surface is usually hairless. The leaf sheath is usually open and more-or-less flattened. Barnyardgrass is closely related to junglerice and looks similar, except it does not have the distinctive purple bands of junglerice leaves. It also looks similar to late watergrass a plant that is generally only is found in rice fields.


Flowers bloom from June through October. They range from 2-1/2 to 10 inch (6.4–25.4 cm) long and consist of branches densely clustered with knotlike flowers. Upper branches are stiff and stand erect to somewhat erect from the flowering stem. Lower branches spread farther apart than the upper branches. The flower head is held erect or droops and is sometimes purplish.

Related or similar plants

  • Junglerice, Echinochloa colona
  • Late watergrass, Echinochloa oryzicola

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