Alopecurus myosuroides

Scientific Name Alopecurus myosuroides Hudson
Common Names English: Blackgrass; German: Acker-Fuchsschwanz; French: Vulpin des champs; Spanish: Cola de zorra
Description Annual or perennial tufted grass, up to 60 cm (23.62 inch) tall, occasionally taller.


Characteristic Features

Rough, irregular slits in the ligule.

Young Plant

First leaf delicate and corkscrewed, leaf blade narrow, hairless.




Narrow, sharp-edged, bare, ridged.
No auricle.
Ligule long, with rough, irregular slits.

Propagation Organs


Single-flowered spikelets, in a slender inflorescence (spike) up to 8 cm (3.15 inch) in length, often tinged with red.
Glume pointed and edged with short hairs.
Lemma awned.

Flowering Period

Early summer.


False fruits, generally enclosed in the two glumes.


Seeds with furrow-like depressions where they are attached to the plant; seeds fall early. Germination from autumn-spring.
Seeds can germinate from depths of up to 10 cm (3.93 inch).

Viability of Seeds

3-6 years.


By seeds (50-500 seeds per plant).



A. myosuroides prefers medium-to-heavy loamy and clay soils with sufficient lime content and occurs on fresh to moist soils.

Additional Crop Information

Also in barley, rye, sugar beet, oil seed rape and legumes. It predominantly occurrs in Western Europe in winter wheat, where the average population density increases dramatically.

Agricultural Importance

Blackgrass greatly reduces grain yield and quality and interferes with combine harvesting. Biotypes of Alopecurus myosuroides that have developed resistance against different herbicide classes (currently mostly ACCase-inhibitors and Isoproturon) in Western Europe pose a major challenge for control. A heterogeneous distribution of Alopecurus myosuroides populations is often observed in fields. Heavily infested patches are stable in location and persistent, therefore site-specific control is beneficial. The economic weed thresholds for Blackgrass is set at 20-30 seed heads per m² (1.9 - 2.8/sq. ft.). Reduced tillage practices results in a strong increase of Blackgrass populations. More than 95 % efficacy of control is needed to prevent population increase.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Careful seed cleaning and selection of weed free fields for crop-seed propagation, prevention of seed rain from field borders by grazing, mowing or ploughing field edges and borders, late seeding of winter wheat reduces of Alopecurus myosuroides infestatiuons. Rotation of winter and summer annual crops also reduces the infestation level of Alopecurus myosuroides. Deep burying of non-dormant weed seeds by plowing results in fatal germination and great reduction of weed seed content in the soil. Mechanical weed control practices using tine harrows often have poor effect since seedlings emerge from soil depths up to 10 cm (3.93 inch).

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