Green Foxtail

Green_Foxtail_jpgGreen Foxtail is a weed of mostly temperate regions found in fields, gardens and waste places. The common name, Foxtail is from the tufts resembling the tail of a fox. In ancient times and continuing to today this plant family (Poaceae), commonly known as grasses, have stood between mankind and starvation.  For thousands of years grasses have provided food we eat (wheat, rice, corn, sugar cane, and more) and food for our domestic livestock.  In earlier times grasses were used to make thatched roofs, mats for floors, bedding, and kitchen utensils. Indeed, some made an entire house of a grass species–bamboo–including water-piping, ladders and furniture. In early man’s culture, selected grasses were used as writing tools and reeds provided flutes and similar musical instruments.  Dyed grasses played an ornamental role as part of costumes worn for ceremonial occasions.  Incense was made from grasses. Children made toy boats, dolls, and other toys with plants in this family.  A good whistle can be made by placing a blade of grass between the thumbs and blowing across it. On the darker side, early man made war using grasses for shafts of arrows, spears, and darts.  Swords and knives could be fashioned from bamboo.  Grain that has molded or have a fungus can be toxic.  Ergot, source of Lysergic acid (LSD), was discovered in a fungus on rye grain.  In the Middle Ages, whole towns in Europe suffered intoxication, insanity and death.





Setaria viridis




Naturalized from Europe and Asia




8 inches to 8 feet


Late July to mid September


Throughout New Jersey


Late July to mid September


Long green leaves ~ One golden tufts at end of stems ~ Many nodes and short branches. Consider the often quoted rhyme when identifying grasses: “Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses have joints from their tips to the ground.”