Barnyard Grass

Barnyard Grass/Barnyardgrass
(Echinochloa sp.)

This is a summer annual. The weed has thick, course stems that become reddish-purple color when mature.

Stems start growing outward along the ground, then turn upward.

An open panicle, or branched cluster of flowers, grows at the top of stem.

Photo: Misty Diller

Weed leaves roll off of stems and grow up to 20 inches. Leaves are light green in color and have a white vein that runs the length. Leaves average 1/2" wide.

The flowerhead is green and also becomes purplish in color when mature. Individual florets have short, stiff bristles. One long spike, called an awn is at the tip. Flowerheads bloom from early summer to late fall spreading seeds which are brown in color.

Favoring moist soils, Echinochloa weeds adapt well to all kinds of soils and grows from 1 to 5 feet. They are often grown for cereal or animal feed purposes and are similar in appearance, often mistaken for one another and called barn yard grass. Collectively know as 'Common' barn-yard grass (Echinochloa crusgalli).

These grasses can be a nuisance and competitive.  They have shallow roots can be pulled easily. Use a garden hoe if easier. In the spring and late fall use a pre-emergent herbicide to kill weed seeds.

Because most are summer grasses, apply strong efforts to eradicate in one growing season, grass will die off when fall frosting occurs.  The second growing season will be much lighter. Using garden mulch will help control any seeds from sprouting.


Many grass weeds have a ligule and auricle. Common Barnyard Grass is one of the grassy weeds that does not have either.

  • A ligule translates to tongue, or strap. In weed terms they are a small outgrowth that is present on the stem at the point where the leaf rolls off.

    Ligules are either a membrane, ciliate hairs, or is non-existent. The over-simplified purpose is for weed id,
    or it's DNA.

  • An auricle is auricle is a visible, small ear-like projection from the base of a leaf. With weeds they are paired appendages protruding from the side of leaf coming off of the stem. Auricles are considered to be blunt and claw-like, rudimentary, with hairs or non-existent.

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