Scientific Name: Digitaria ciliaris

Common Name: southern crabgrass

Other Common Names: henry's crabgrass, fingergrass, kukaepua'a, saulangi, smooth crabgrass, tropical crabgrass

Synonyms: Digitaria adscendens, Digitaria sanguinalis var. ciliaris, Panicum adscendens, Panicum ciliare, Syntherisma marginata

Habit: Southern Crabgrass can grow in any open ground that is sunny, in turf, flowerbeds, etc. It sprouts up in March (as the soil warms up) and grows through to frost (October or November). Southern crabgrass can root from the lower nodes giving it a decumbent habit.

Leaves: Southern crabgrass leaves are around 2-7 inches long and less than an inch wide. The leaves are occasionally pubescent on the upper surface but the sheaths are densely pubescent. This grassy weed has a small membranous ligule with a frayed edge.

Identifying Characteristics: Southern Crabgrass is a valuable temporary summer forage crop, particularly on open land that is planted to vegetables or row crops, and rotated into pasture for livestock grazing or haying.

Flower Seed Head: Seedheads have 2-9 spikelets that are around 1-8 inches long.

Seed Fruit: Seeds are light brown and are less than 1mm wide and approximately 4-5mm long.

Where Found: Southern crabgrass occurs northward on the coastal plain occasionally to Connecticut, more common southward east of the Appalachian region, throughout Florida, extending west into Texas and north into Kansas and Nebraska. Also occurs in the West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America.

  • Life cycle: summer annual

  • Plant type: Grass

  • Auricle: not present

  • Plant family: Poaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: rolled in bud

  • Hair surface: hairs on basal half only; no hairs; hairs from base to tip

  • Ligule: membrane

  • Length: 1-2 mm; 2-3 mm; less than 1 mm

  • Root structure: fibrous

  • Seed head: multiple spikes

  • Width: 6 to 15 mm; less than 5 mm

  • Grass stem: flat or oval