crowsfoot grass

Eleusine indica
Crowsfoot grass
Crowsfoot grass
Crowsfoot grass seeds
Crowsfoot grass
Crowsfoot grass
Crowsfoot grass
Crowsfoot grass seed detail
Crowsfoot grass seeds

A tufted, short-lived, grass with spreading or semi-upright stems growing up to 60 cm tall. Its leaf sheaths are prominently keeled and there is a membranous structure (0.5-1 mm long) at the base of the leaf blade. Its narrow leaf blades (3-35 cm long and 3-8 mm wide) are mostly hairless. Its seed-heads have 1-15 branches (3.5-15.5 cm long) that radiate outwards from the same point. Numerous flower spikelets (3.5-7 mm long) are densely arranged along these seed-head branches.

Common names 
Also known as: Bull grass, Crab grass , Dog grass, Goose grass, Goose foot, Iron grass,
Flowering time 
Year round
This species is widespread throughout tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Its exact origin is obscure, but it is thought to have come from Africa and Asia.
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Crowsfoot grass (Eleusine indica) is widely naturalised in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.


A common weed of lawns, gardens, parks, footpaths, disturbed sites, waste areas, pastures, crops and orchards. It is sometimes also a weed of wetlands, riparian vegetation and coastal environs.


A tufted, short-lived (i.e. annual), grass with semi-upright (i.e. ascending) or spreading (i.e. prostrate) stems growing up to 60 cm tall.

Impact and control methods 

Though crowsfoot grass (Eleusine indica) 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 was recently ranked 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.

This species generally invades disturbed habitats in natural areas and the margins of conservation areas. For example, it is present along roads and powerline corridors that traverse the wet tropics world heritage areas in northern Queensland. It is also a weed of marshes, stream banks and coastal environs and has recently invaded the Five Islands Nature Reserve, a group of five small islands clustered off the coast of Port Kembla in south-eastern New South Wales.

Stem and leaves 

The stems vary from being almost upright (i.e. erect) to lying close to the ground (i.e. prostrate).

The leaf sheaths are prominently keeled and there is a membranous structure (i.e. eciliate ligule) 0.5-1 mm long at the base of the leaf blade. The narrow (i.e. linear) leaf blades (3-35 cm long and 3-8 mm wide) have entire margins and a rounded or shortly-pointed tip (i.e. obtuse or acute apex). They are hairless (i.e. glabrous), but their margins are somewhat rough to the touch (i.e. scabrous).

Flowers and fruits 

The seed-heads (i.e. inflorescences) are borne on upright (i.e. erect) or angled stalks 20-60 cm long. They have 1-15 branches or spikes (3.5-15.5 cm long) radiating outwards, like a windmill (i.e. they are digitate or sub-digitate). Numerous flower spikelets (3.5-7 mm long) are densely arranged in a loosely overlapping manner along these spikes and each contain a pair of bracts (i.e. glumes) and three to nine tiny flowers (i.e. florets).

The papery glumes are left behind on the stalks once the mature 'seeds' (i.e. grains or caryopses) have been shed. These 'seeds' are reddish-brown in colour and enclosed within the old straw-coloured floral bracts (i.e. the palea and lemma).

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces by seed, which may be spread by water, animals or in contaminated soil and agricultural produce.

Similar species 

Several other grass weeds have a similar seed-head to crowsfoot grass (Eleusine indica) and can occasionally be confused with it. These include summer grass (Digitaria ciliaris ), green couch (Cynodon dactylon) and Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana ).

Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana ) is usually a much taller plant (up to 1.2 m tall) and has brownish-green coloured seed-heads. Summer grass (Digitaria ciliaris ) has much finer seed-heads, with slender branches, and its flower spikelets fall entire leaving no bracts. Green couch (Cynodon dactylon) also has much finer seed-heads and regularly produces runners that root at the joints (i.e. it is stoloniferous).