Scientific NameScleranthus annuus
Other Common Names:
Usually a winter annual but occasionally a summer annual that forms dense, prostrate mats. Knawel is commonly mistaken as a grass and is primarily a weed of lawns, turfgrass, and small grains.
Cotyledons are linear in outline and less than 1 mm wide with a sharp tip. This leads to their confusion with grasses. Leaves are linear in outline, less than 1 mm wide, also with a sharp tip. Leaves are arranged oppositely along the stem and joined by a thin, clear membrane. Stems grow prostrate along the ground, branched, forming dense mats outward from a central plant.
Plants with small, linear leaves that initially resemble a grass and inconspicuous green flowers. Due to the overall growth habit and leaf shape, this weed might be confused with Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata), but the leaves and stems of German moss are not covered in hairs like those of creeping phlox. German moss might also be confused with some of the spurries (Spergula spp.) but lacks the distinctive white or red flowers of these species.
Flower Seed Head
Flowers are inconspicuous, green in color, and somewhat spiny. Flowers occur in clusters that arise from the position between the leaf bases and the stem.
A very small (3-4 mm) utricle.
Knawel is distributed throughout the eastern United States.
prostrate and nonwoody
Thorns or Spines
Approximate Flower Diameter
Dominant Flower Color
Stem Cross Section
round or oval