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Black Grass

Alopecurus myosuroides

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, grassland, wasteland.

Green, no petals
Cylindrical, yellowish-green spikelets (Sometimes purple-tinged).
The fruit is a caryopsis which is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit.
A tuft-forming grass with smooth and hairless, linear to lanceolate leaves, up to 6mm wide. The leaves are purplish-green.
Other Names:
Black Twitch, Hunger Grass, Lamb's-tail Grass, Land Grass, Mouse-tail Grass, Slender Meadow Foxtail, Twitch Grass.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Alopecurus myosuroides, also known as Blackgrass, is a species of grass in the genus Alopecurus. It is native to Europe and Asia and commonly found in arable land, grassland and other agricultural habitats. It is an annual grass that can grow up to 0.5-1 meter tall. It has narrow leaves and a panicle of small green-brown flowers that appear in the summer.

Blackgrass is considered a major weed species in many regions, especially in Europe, causing serious problems in cereal production due to its competitiveness and resistance to herbicides. It is able to adapt to different conditions and has a high seed production rate, making it difficult to control and manage. The weed can reduce crop yields, increase costs, and also affects the quality of harvested products. Many control methods have been proposed including cultural control, mechanical control, biological control, chemical control and others, but an integrated approach is often necessary to achieve effective control.


Black grass, also known as Alopecurus myosuroides, is a weed that poses a significant threat to crop production in many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Australia. This invasive weed is a particular problem for farmers who grow wheat, barley, and other cereal crops, as it competes for nutrients and water, reducing crop yields and quality.

Identification and Characteristics of Black Grass

Black grass is an annual grass weed that grows up to 1m tall, with a distinctive black seed head that appears in early summer. It has long, narrow leaves that are dark green and glossy, and it forms dense mats that can outcompete crop plants for nutrients and sunlight. Black grass is a prolific seed producer, and it can quickly colonize bare or disturbed soil, making it a significant problem for farmers.

The Impact of Black Grass on Crop Production

Black grass is a highly competitive weed that can reduce crop yields by up to 50% if left untreated. It competes with crop plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight, and it can also affect crop quality by contaminating harvested grain. Black grass is particularly problematic in cereal crops such as wheat and barley, which are widely grown around the world.

Controlling Black Grass

Effective control of black grass requires a multifaceted approach, including cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods. Cultural control measures such as crop rotation, stubble management, and delayed drilling can help reduce the spread of black grass. Mechanical control methods such as hoeing and hand weeding can also be effective in small-scale operations.

However, chemical control measures are often necessary to manage black grass effectively. Pre-emergence herbicides can be used to prevent black grass seedlings from establishing, while post-emergence herbicides can be used to control established weeds. Integrated weed management (IWM) is a holistic approach that combines multiple control methods to manage black grass effectively.

More Information about Black Grass

Black grass is a significant threat to crop production, particularly in cereal crops such as wheat and barley. Effective control of black grass requires a multifaceted approach that includes cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods. Integrated weed management (IWM) is the best approach to managing black grass effectively, combining multiple control methods to minimize the impact of this invasive weed on crop yields and quality. Farmers and agronomists must remain vigilant and proactive in managing black grass to protect crop production and ensure food security for the future.

Black grass, also known as slender meadow foxtail or black oat grass, is native to Europe and Asia but has become a problematic invasive species in many parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, black grass is considered one of the most challenging weed problems facing farmers, with an estimated cost of around £400 million annually.

The spread of black grass is largely attributed to the intensive use of herbicides, which has led to the evolution of herbicide-resistant populations. Black grass has become resistant to many commonly used herbicides, including glyphosate, which is a major concern for farmers and agronomists.

Black grass can also have environmental impacts, as it can reduce biodiversity by outcompeting native plants and altering soil ecology. In addition, black grass can be a nuisance for homeowners and gardeners, as it can invade lawns and other landscaped areas.

In response to the threat posed by black grass, researchers and agricultural organizations are working to develop new control strategies. For example, new herbicides are being developed that are less likely to cause resistance in black grass, and new agronomic practices are being tested to reduce the spread of the weed.

One of the challenges in managing black grass is its ability to produce a large number of seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for several years. This means that even if a farmer successfully controls black grass in one season, the seeds can germinate and grow in subsequent years, making it a persistent problem.

To address this challenge, some farmers are adopting a zero-tolerance approach to black grass, which involves removing all plants and seeds from the field before planting. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process, but it can be effective in reducing the seed bank and preventing the spread of the weed.

Another approach to managing black grass is the use of cover crops, which can help suppress the growth of weeds and improve soil health. Cover crops such as oilseed rape and phacelia can be used to provide ground cover and reduce weed competition, while also improving soil structure and reducing erosion.

The use of biological control agents, such as fungal pathogens or insects, is another potential approach to managing black grass. However, research in this area is still in the early stages, and more studies are needed to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of this approach.

Overall, black grass is a significant threat to crop production and requires a coordinated and sustained effort to control. By adopting integrated weed management practices, including cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods, farmers and agronomists can minimize the impact of black grass and protect crop yields and quality.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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