Crab grass

  • Digitaria spp.


Brood coverFood
Upright growthProstrate growth

Crab grass is generally less than 18 inches tall, allowing bobwhites to eat seeds right off the plant. Growth form may be upright or prostrate.

©Ted Bodner, USDA-NRCS Plants Database
Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri

Crab grass seeds

Though tiny, crab grass seeds are frequently eaten by bobwhites. (scale divisions = 1mm)

Fred Fishel, University of Missouri

Crab grass seed head

Crab grass seed heads consist of several thin spikes.

Rob Kallenbach and Greg Bishop-Hurley, University of Missouri

Collar region

In the collar region, note the small, membranous ligule and the hairy leaf blades.

Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri


This group of annual grasses is common in disturbed areas throughout much of the Midwest. Native to Europe, they are most often perceived as weeds in fields and pastures. Crab grass generally grows no more than 2 feet tall. Seed stalks spread from a central point, much like the fingers on a hand.

Use by bobwhites

Often found in disturbed areas, crab grass tends to indicate early successional vegetation, and thus good quail habitat. Note, however, that late spring disturbance may result in a crab grass response heavy enough to displace other beneficial or desired plants. Bobwhites commonly consume crab grass seeds.