Identifying Grass Seedlings

Foxtail, giant (Setaria faberi)

Summer annual grasses


Giant foxtail is an erect-growing grass that reaches a height of about 3 feet. Auricles are absent, and the ligule is a tuft of hair. Sheaths are nearly round, usually smooth, and the blades are short, hairy and 10–15 mm wide with the entire upper surface covered with hair.

Mature giant foxtailMature giant foxtail.

Collar region SeedlingCollar region. Hairy ligule.
Right, giant foxtail seedling.


Giant foxtail commonly occurs in cultivated fields, pasture, waste ground, landscapes and any open area with nutrient-rich soil.


Since its introduction into the United States in 1931, giant foxtail has rapidly spread through the Middle Atlantic states, across Missouri and west to Kansas and Oklahoma.

Similar species

Green foxtail and fall panicum also have hairy ligules, but they lack hair on their leaf surfaces. Yellow foxtail has a hairy ligule, but it has only a few sparse, long hairs along the base of the upper leaf surface, and its stems are also flat, unlike those of giant foxtail.