Index | Search | Home

new crop Logo

Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) Beauv.


Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Toxicity
  5. Description
  6. Germplasm
  7. Distribution
  8. Ecology
  9. Cultivation
  10. Harvesting
  11. Yields and Economics
  12. Energy
  13. Biotic Factors
  14. References


A warm-season bunchgrass used as cattle fodder and sometimes cultivated for this purpose. Also suited for ensilage, but not for hay. Usually fed green. Grass also used for reclamation of saline and alkaline areas, especially in Egypt. Grain of some varieties used as food in times of scarcity and sometimes used for adulterating fennel.

Folk Medicine

Reported to be preventative and tonic, barnyardgrass is a folk remedy for carbuncles, hemorrhage, sores, spleen trouble, cancer and wounds (Duke and Wain, 1981).


Per 100 g, the following values are reported (in grams):

Protein Fat Total carb. Fiber Ash
Wet matter zero-moist.13.7 2.9 72.2 22.0 11.2 (Miller, 1958)
Wet matter zero-moist. 9.0 2.7 79.9 29.9 8.4 (Miller, 1958)
Shoots zero-moist. (24.4% DM) 7.4 2.9 81.1 31.3 8.6 (Gohl, 1981)
Hay zero-moist. (89.1% DM) 13.52.5 73.6 22.7 10.4 (Gohl, 1981)


This grass has been reported to accumulate levels of nitrate in its tissues high enough to be toxic to farm animals (Holm et al., 1977).


Polymorphous coarse, tufted annual, tall and often weedy; culms erect to decumbent, 0.8-1.5 m tall, rather thick, branching at base; leaves flat, glabrous, elongate, 30-50 cm long, 1-2 cm broad, scabrous, slightly thickened at margin; ligules absent; sheaths smooth, lower ones often reddish; panicle 8-30 cm long, green or purple, exserted, somewhat nodding, densely branched, the branches to 5 cm long, erect or ascending, sessile; spikelets 3-4 mm long, densely arranged on branches, ovoid, awnless, but move often long-awned, pale green to dull purple, short-bristly along veins; racemes spreading, ascending or appressed, the lower somewhat distant, as much as 10 cm long, sometimes branched; glumes and lower lemma minutely hairy on surface with longer more rigid hairs on veins; first glume about two-fifths as long as spikelet, deltoid, the second as long as the spikelet, short-awned; sterile lemma membranous, with a straight scabrous awn, 2-4 cm long or awnless; fertile lemma ovate-elliptic, acute, pale yellow, lustrous, smooth, 3-3.5 mm long. Fl. Aug.-Oct.; seed maturing Sept.-Oct., up to 40,000/plant. Var. crusgalli has long, somewhat spreading papillose cilia at the summits of the internodes and bases of the branches in the inflorescence and short, very thick papillose cilia along the lateral nerves of the 2nd glume, sterile lemma, and somewhat spreading -spikes", and sterile lemmas with awns 0-10 mm long.


Reported from the China-Japan Center of Diversity, barnyardgrass or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate alkali, hydrogen fluoride, high pH, laterite, salt, virus, weeds, and waterlog (Duke, 1978). There are several botanical varieties and forms. In addition to the var. frumentace , used mainly as a grain and treated separately, the following varieties are recognized. E. crusgalli var. incrusgalli with long, somewhat spreading, papillose cilia at the summits of the internodes and bases of the branches in the inflorescence and short, very thick papillose cilia along the lateral nerves of the 2nd glume and sterile lemma, and somewhat spreading "spikes", and sterile lemmas with awns 0-10 mm long; var. mitis (Pursh) Peterm., with dense somewhat spreading, flexuous racemes, the spikelets awnless or nearly so, awns less than 3 mm long, basal sheaths occasionally hirsute, found in moist places over the range of the species; var. zeylansis (H.B.K) Hitchc., with culms less succulent than those of the species, mostly simple, more or less appressed racemes, the spikelets less strongly hispid but papillose, usually green, found in moist often alkaline places from Oklahoma to Oregon, south to Texas and California, Mexico to Argentina, in tablelands; var. praticola Ohwi, awnless, more slender plant than common type, found in lowlands of Taiwan, Japan, Ryukyus and Korea; var. formosensis Ohwi, intermediate between typical form and var. oryzicola with leaf-blade narrower, the spikelets pale green, sterile lemma thickened, lustrous, glabrous, at least on back, found in Taiwan, China, India and Japan; var. oryzicola (Vasing.) Ohwi, with culms nearly erect from base, leaf-blades thickened on margins, scabrous, panicles usually pale green, erect, the spikelets about 5 mm long, awnless or short-awned, first glume one-half to three-fifths as long as spikelet, sterile lemma often thickened and coriaceous, glabrous; fl. Aug.-Oct.; a troublesome weed in paddy fields and wet places in China, Korea, Japan and India. (2n = 36, 42, 48)


Widespread in all warmer regions of the world, both temperate and tropical; often weedy. In Southwest U.S., it occurs in moist, often disturbed loamy soil, in marshes, seepage areas, and in mud and water of lakes, ditches and flood-plains.


Ranging from Boreal Moist to Wet through Tropical Very Dry to Moist Forest Life Zones, barnyardgrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.1 to 25.0 dm (mean of 59 cases = 9.7), annual temperature of 5.7 to 27.8°C (mean of 59 cases = 14.9), and pH of 4.8 to 8.2 (mean of 53 cases = 6.4) (Duke, 1978, 1979). Adapted to nearly all types of wet places, and often a common weed in paddy fields, roadsides, cultivated areas, and fallow fields. Grows on variety of wet sites such as ditches, low areas in fertile croplands and wet wastes, often growing in water. Succeeds in cool regions, but better adapted to areas where average annual temperature is 14-16°C. Not restricted by soil pH.


Propagated from seed, best sown in India from February to April. Optimum temperature for germination is 35°C, with maximum of 40°C, and minimum of 5-10°C. The vegetative period is from May to July.


When used for fodder, grass is ready for cutting 1.5-3 months after growth starts. Solitary plants may develop up to 80 shoots with a maximum height of 2.5 m. Seed mature from August to October.

Yields and Economics

Occasionally used or especially cultivated as cattle fodder, especially in India, areas of East Africa and elsewhere. It is not a dependable forage plant and even though palatable, it has never become economically important for grazing. E. crusgalli is considered a very serious weed in many major world crops.


According to the phytomass files annual productivity of E. crusgalli is 10 MT/ha, that of E. polystachya runs 3-30, while that of E. stagnina os 17 MT/ha (Duke, 1981b).

Biotic Factors

The following fungi have been reported on this grass: Alternaria spp. associated with weevil (Prodsaldius deplanatus) injury and with other fungi, Brachysporium flexuosum, B. gracile, Cercospora echinochloae, C. fusimaculans, C. sorghii, C. stizolobii, Cintractia crus-galli, Claviceps microcephala, Colletotrichum graminicola, Corticium vagum, Curvularia geniculata, C. trifolii, Dinemasporium gramineum, Fusarium acuminatum, F. avenaceum, F. culmorum, F. equiseti, F. graminearum, F. oxysporum, F. scirpi var. acuminatum, Helminthosporium flexuosum, H. monoceras, H. sativum, H. turcicum, Leptosphaeria occidentalis, Mycosphaerella crusgalli, Pellicularia filamentosa, Physoderma echinochloae, Phytophthora macrospora, P. cactorum, Phoma terrestris, Piricularia grisea, P. oryzae, Puccinia abnormis, P. flaccida, P. graminis, Pyrenochaeta terrestris, Pythium aristosporum, P. arrhenomanes, P. debaryanum, P. graminicola, P. tardicrescens, P. vexans, Rhizoctonia solani, Sclerotium hydrophilum, Sorosporium bullata, S. syntherismae, Spacelotheca diplospora, S. panici-miliacei, Tilletia pulcherrima, Tolyposporium bullatum, Ustilago sphaerogena, U. trichophora var. crusgalli, U. crus-galli and var. minor, U. globigena, U. rabenhorstiana. The grass is also attacked by the bacterium Pseudomonas tabaci and the virus Red Leaf of Setaria italica and a mosaic. It is parasitized by the flowering plants Striga lutea, S. euphrasioides and Cuscuta pentagona. Nematodes isolated from this grass include: Hirschmanniella oryzae, Meloidogyne incognita acrita, M. Javanica, M. sp. and Pratylenchus zeae. (Golden, p.c., 1984)


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
last update July 9, 1996