Eleusine indica


Other common names:

Crab grass.



A prostate or tufted annual grass that can reach 50 cm in height. Stems are whitish, flattened, decumbent or prostrate branched – often forming mats. Leaves with loose, overlapping, flattened sheaths and shiny green leaf blades up to 30 cm long and 8 mm wide. Ligules are very short. Inflorescence are 2-13 spikeletes resembling a zipper radiating from the stem. Spikes are up 17 cm in length and 5 mm in diameter (Drake et al., 1994). Crowsfoot grass has a very strong, dense fibrous root system which can be hard to pull out.



Germinating crowsfoot seed is very distinct when seen growing in the field. The emerging tillers from the centre of the plant a white to silver in colour at the base of the leaves. The ligule is toothed, membranous and divided at the centre. Upon closer inspection, the crowsfoot plant may be smooth and glossy or contain hairs only at the base of the leaf depending on the genotype.



Crowsfoot grass is naturalised in all states and territories in Australia. Though crowsfoot grass is primarily regarded as a weed of agricultural areas and habitation, it is also seen as an environmental weed in parts of Queensland and New South Wales. It is listed in the top 200 environmental weeds in south-eastern Queensland and also appears on environmental weed lists in the wider Sydney and Blue Mountains region in New South Wales (UQ, 2011). It is a problematic weed on golf greens, tees, fairways and sports fields that receive high wear and or soil/surface compaction.



Crowsfoot is an annual weed grass reproducing by seed. Crowsfoot seeds germinate rapidly, usually within 7 to 14 days under moist conditions, strong light and fluctuating temperatures (Busey, no date). On germination, the first leaf, about 1 cm long, tapers very suddenly to a point and may be pressed quite flat on the soil. Later leaves are v-shaped. Its reproduction potential is enormous, with up to 135,000 seeds per crowsfoot plant and up to 5 million seeds per acre (Busey, no date). Crowsfoot can grow from seedling to a flowering plant in approximately 5 weeks under optimal conditions; under less than ideal conditions, it may be as long as 4 months.



Crowsfoot dominates turf that is weakened by wear, deficient in nutrients, excessively wet and has compacted soil.


Susceptible hosts:

All varieties of warm- and cool-season turf varieties are susceptible to crowsfoot grass germination under favorable conditions. The weed colonizes within open turf, particularly on worn areas/compacted soils subject to intense traffic or use. Damage Crowsfoot grass is fast growing and stands above the normal height of cut of your turf. Additional mowing is required in order for the grass not to out compete with your turfgrass and produce additional seed that may later germinate. Mower blades must also be sharpened when attending to large areas of crowsfoot. The crowsfoot grass has the ability to dull the mower blades leaving an unprofessional cut to the turf. Crowsfoot grass is unaesthetic and when plants are well established forming dense clumps located across a sportsfield they can pose as trip hazards.


Control options:

  • Pesticides: See available tabs below for registered products. As lawn grub feed at night, for best control apply pesticide in the late afternoon. Use as per label instructions.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM):
    • After a 5 year comprehensive management program in severely affected areas, crowsfoot seed bank can be reduced so that control is less expensive (Busey, no date)
    • Use a combination of approaches listed on this page.
  • Cultural
    • Hand remove low infestations of crowsfoot plants and use pre-emergent herbicides to keep on top of germinating seed.
  • Mechanical: ·
    • Maintain turf density and nutrition to at least an acceptable standard.
    • Where/when possible, alleviate traffic and minimise soil compaction.



Turf Finder or its developer accepts with no responsibility for any consequences whatsoever resulting from the use of any information or product(s) listed herein. Products are to be applied as per label instructions.

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