Digitaria sanguinalis

Scientific Name Digitaria sanguinalis (L. ) Scop.
Common Names English: Large crabgrass; German: Blutrote Fingerhirse; Spanish: Pasto cuaresma; French: Digitaire sanguine
Description Annual grass, usually red- to violet-splotched, originated from Europe.


Characteristic Features

Mature plants often red- to violet-splotched. Each upper culm terminates in 5-7 finger-like racemes.

Young Plant

Sheaths and blades usually densely hairy, with a jagged membranous ligule. Seedlings upright, leaves rolled in the bud, first leaf blade is lanceolate to linear.


Initially prostrate, then curvily ascending, sparsely haired at the nodes, growing up to 50 cm (19.68 inch) high.


Leaf blades 5-15 cm (1.96 - 5.9 inch) long and 3-12 mm (0.118 - 0.47 inch) wide. Leaf blade green to purple, both sides with silky, shiny hairs; often reddish with central strip and pale at the margin.
Ligule membranous, white, 1-2 mm (0.039 - 0.078 inch) long, truncate.
Auricles absent.
Sheaths green to reddish violet, with long blister-like hairs, especially at the sheath base.

Propagation Organs


Panicle with 4-10 finger-like spike-like racemes, each 2-16 cm (0.78 - 6.29 inch) long, not all originating from a single point but with one or more 1-2 cm (0.39 - 0.78 inch) below the others.
Spikelets elliptic, plano-convex, about 3 mm (0.118 inch) long, paired, on short, unequal pedicels; each spikelet has a single fertile floret, lower glume minute, up to 1 mm (0.039 inch) long, upper glume half to two thirds the length of the spikelet, hairy.
Lemmas as long as the spikelet, the lower green, hairy and minutely rough on the nerves towards the tip; upper lemma glabrous, smooth, pale green or light brown.

Flowering Period

Summer - early autumn.


Caryopsis enclosed in 2 sterile flowering-glumes, 2-4 mm (0.078 - 0.157 inch) long, greenish-gray, halved-fusiform.


Shiny, yellowish-brown, 2-3 mm (0.078 - 0.118 inch) long. Germination in late spring.

Viability of Seeds

Only few years.


> 2,000 seeds/plant.
Seedling emergence can occur from 6 cm (2.36 inch) depth in the soil.



Disturbed areas of prairies, weedy meadows, edges of degraded wetlands, areas along roads and railroads, lawns and gardens, vacant lots, fields, grassy paths, and miscellaneous waste areas.


Warm, sandy and fine-textured soils which are low in lime, but not in nutrient content.

Additional Crop Information

Field crops (potatoes, beets), often in gardens, ornamentals and vegetables.

Agricultural Importance

Digitaria sanguinalis is an aggressive weed in some subtropical crops, mainly sugarcane, corn and soya. In European corn fields it is less competitive than other warm season grasses, it mainly escapes control by late emergence in corn.
It is used as a pasture grass in some areas of North America. Because of its long germination period from May to September (germination temperature minimum 20oC) (68oF) large crabgrass is a troublesome weed in corn. Tillering starts after emergence of the fourth leaf. The number of tillers and leaves increases under specific conditions such as drought and low temperatures.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Easy to control in rotation with winter annual crops.

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