Identifying Grass Seedlings

Carolina foxtail (Alopecurus carolinianus)

Winter annual grasses


Carolina foxtail reaches only 4–6 inches in height but has a distinctive, compact foxtail-like seedhead that resembles that of timothy. The leaves are without auricles and have a membranous ligule that is 2–3 mm tall. Leaf blades are only 1–5 mm wide and 2–5 inches long with distinctive veins or ridges.

Mature Carolina foxtailMature Carolina foxtail.

Collar region SeedheadCollar region: tall, membranous ligule.
Right, seedhead.


Carolina foxtail is a common winter annual grass that favors wet areas in no-till agronomic crops, fallow fields, pastures and roadsides.


Carolina foxtail is found throughout Missouri.

Similar species

This foxtail is not related to the common summer annual foxtails that commonly invade row crops. Little barley and foxtail barley may appear similar, but they grow to taller heights and usually have much larger leaves and smaller ligules than Carolina foxtail.