Apera spica-venti

Scientific Name Apera spica-venti
Common Names English: Loose silky-bent; German: Gemeiner Windhalm; French: Jouet du vent
Description A. spica-venti is an annual panicle grass, strongly tillering and often clustered growing. It occurs as an overwintering grass weed in Europe.


Characteristic Features

The long-awned spikelets and ligules finely incised with regularity of depth are characteritic for loose silky-bent.

Young Plant

In the youth stage it is an erect grass with either solitary or multiple stems, the youngest leaf is rolled.


Stems are green or purple, smooth and erect, reaching up to 100 - 125 cm (39.37 - 47.24 inch).


The leaf blade is hairless, rough and narrow pointed. The ligule is 3 to 10 mm (0.12 - 0.39 inch) long, rounded and ragged without auricles. The leaf sheath is smooth, but rough near the apex.

Propagation Organs


The panicle is up to 30 cm (11.81 inch) long and opens during the flowering period, but contracts later on, with many small ears. Single florets with short awns (3 to 8 mm; 0.12 - 0.32 inch) or none at all.

Flowering Period



The fruit is an ellipsoid caryopsis with adherent pericarp, the endosperm is liquid.


The main germination period is in autumn.

Viability of Seeds

Short living seeds (1-3 years).


By seeds (3,000 - 5,000 seeds/plant).



Arable fields, including set-aside land, also on waste ground, tracks and roadsides.


Sandy loams and sands, slightly acidic soils.

Additional Crop Information

Other winter cereals, grass seed production.

Agricultural Importance

A. spica-venti mostly occurrs in winter wheat, but grows taller than the crop, with strong infestations in Europe. It greatly reduces yield and quality of grain (weed threshold 15-30 plants/m², 1.4 - 2.8 plants/sq. ft.) and interferes with combine harvesting.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Rotation of winter annual and summer annual crop reduces the infestation rate, deep plowing of non-dormant weed seeds results in fatal germination and in a substantial reduction of weed seed content in the soil. Mechanical weed control practices using tiny harrows control about 50 % of the Apera spica-venti seedlings, also late seeding of winter wheat reduces the germination rate.

Chemical Control

To prevent a population increase a minimum of 92 % efficacy of control is required. A strong increase of the infestation is observed in no-till or reduced tillage systems, an easy and fast spread into new areas (fields) occurs due to high genetic and phenotypic plasticity and also because of resistance development to several herbicides (mainly ALS-inhibitors).

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