Setaria verticillata

Scientific Name Setaria verticillata (L.) P. Beauv.
Common Names English: Bristly foxtail; German: Quirlige Borstenhirse; French: Sétaire verticillée; Spanish: Amor de hortelano
Description Loosely tufted annual grass, reproducing solely by seed, originates from Europe.


Characteristic Features

Sticky inflorescence.

Young Plant

Ligule membranous, ciliate or surrounded with a ring of hairs, auricles absent.


Up to 1 m (3.28 ft) high, the branches spreading geniculately and often rooting at the lower nodes. The nodes are glabrous, often dark-colored.


Leaves up to 30 cm (11.81 inch) long and 1-1.5 cm (0.39 - 0.59 inch) wide, with an acute apex, thin, soft with distinct veins, usually loosely hairy. Youngest leaf is rolled. The sheaths are round and (generally) glabrous.

Propagation Organs


Inflorescence is a narrow, spike-like panicle, 5-15 cm (1.97 - 5.9 inch) long, more or less cylindrical but somewhat lobed with the rachis visible in places.
Spikelets in clusters on short branchlets around the rachis. Individual spikelets 2-2.4 mm (0.078 - 0.094 inch) long, each subtended by 1-3 bristles, 2-8 mm (0.078 - 0.31 inch) long, which are retrorsely barbed, making them cling to fur and clothing, or other inflorescences.
Lower glume less than half as long as the spikelet, upper glume as long as, and hiding the finely wrinkled upper lemma.

Flowering Period



About 1.8 mm (0.071 inch) long, 0.9 mm (0.035 inch) wide, elliptic, minutely transverse-rugose.


Germination early in the summer.

Viability of Seeds

18 months.


Seeds are dormant when shed, dispersal is very often supported by the complete inflorescence sticks to fibros surfaces and is then carried on clothing or animal fur.



Cosmopolitan grass weed from northern temperate, through the tropics, to southern temperate areas. S. verticillata occurs on roadsides and in waste places over a wide ecological range.


Wide range of soil types of low and high fertility, ranging from pH 6.1 to pH 8.0. It thrives under irrigated conditions but does not infest flooded rice.

Agricultural Importance

S. verticillata greatly reduces yield. Some biotypes show resistance to atrazine.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Tillage and mechanical control methods are effective in controlling seedlings and young plants.

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